Artist's Statement

Mikhail Priorov

Born in Yaroslavl (Russia) in 1959, Mikhail Priorov studied at the Art School from 1973 to 1977 and graduated from Moscow Art College in 1982. He pursued his artistic training at the famous Stroganoff Art University, graduating in 1987 when he began to work at the Zagorsk Artistic Fund.

That same year Mikhail joined the International Federation of Artists. Since 1981 Priorov has participated in numerous local, national and international exhibitions. Solo exhibitions include Moscow House of Cinema in 2004; Mosfilm in 2003; International federation of Artists (UNESCO) in 2000; Moscow International Cinema Festival in 1999; Gallery ACTION, Moscow in 1998; Moscow Artists on TV, also in 1998; Noise Club in 1997, as well as RT Gallery for the Arts and the Winter Nights Festival. In 1996 he showed at the Russian Division of Culture; in 1995 at Chaffee Center, Vermont, USA; and in 1993 at Chasse Loup-Laubat 17, Paris. In 1987 he began combining painting with tapestry design and mural work.

A considerable part of his work is devoted to musical cycles, totaling thousands of pieces no two of which can be called identical. No matter how many times the artist returns to the chosen theme, he never fails to be innovative, conveying endless compositional variations. Strong attachment to his national heritage and traditional Russian icon painting greatly influence his work. In his vision, these things are not only relics of, but a part of, the living present. Old and modern are inseparable - the past entering and living in the present as its primal element.

Having spent his childhood in Yaroslavl, an ancient Russian town lying at the confluence of the Volga and the Kotorosl rivers, the contrasting hues of the picturesque town, the bustle of the port, the fairs, and the festivals were the source of unforgettable childhood impressions that lay the foundation for his love of "the living past". Many years would pass, however, before these influences surfaced in the artist''s work.

Mikhail Priorov is an artist with a broad range of interests. He is well-versed in music and poetry as well as painting. He plays saxophone in a jazz-group and, in his work, often uses musical and poetic imagery.
Exhibitions for Mikhail Priorov:
1982-Yaroslavl Artistic Union 1983-Moscow Young Artists on VDNH 1983-HERBST,Frankfurt,Germany 1984-Moscow New Arts Center 1985-Jazz & Painting,Moscow 1987-Young Artists at Kuznetsky 1990-Malaya Gruzinka 1992-Solo exhibition, Paris 1994-Chaffee Arts Center, Vermont 1995-Moscow Autumn 1996-Moscow Artists on TV 1997-Stokholm Kulturuset 1998-Solo exhibition in Nice (Russian Center) 1999-All Russian Artistic Union,Moscow 2000-Solo exhibition IFA
Collections for Mikhail Priorov:
Modern Art Center, St.Petersburg, Fl,USA Gallery "Vert", Moscow, RF Gallery "Khirova", Moscow, RF Gallery "3000", Moscow, RF A. Croll, Moscow, RF Rene Guerra, Paris, France D. Miller, Paris, France G. Lapierre, Paris, France H. Kruff, Bonn, Germany O.Prikhnenko, Paris, France M.Collier, Avon Park, Fl, USA
Reviews for Mikhail Priorov:
Artist Reviews in English, French, German and recent works You can browse at

Priorov Mikhail describes his creative process as analogous to the improvisation of a jazz musician. Priorov`s work is available in original oil paintings on canvas and tempera paintings on paper. Mikhail Priorov copyrights all images.


My painting process is comparable to the improvisation of a jazz musician. I start out with a selection of colors, shape them into a beginning melody, and then move out further and further to see where the riff will take me. Music is primary to my art. I paint standing up, with my stereo blasting anything from my favorite Miles Davis, Chick Corea or John Coltrane.The rhythms, beats and patterns I hear create a mood that is reflected in the lines, shapes, and colors on my canvas. It is an active process that demands a looseness and openness to whatever might happen. I currently work in tempera or acrylics, which dry fast and allow me to apply several layers, working on the painting over days or weeks until it comes together in an aesthetic harmony. It is the painting surface that I lovethe tastiness of color in its thick and thin varietiesflat and thick to keep the eye on the surface, or clear and fresh to suggest deep space. Line is another love of mine, and I often draw directly with a tube of paint, dissecting the surface in complicated paths. There is always a tension between throw away and control. It is a risk to let the brush or palette knife sweep across the canvas without knowing what will happen. Sometimes the result is an amazing gift, but more often it is a test that requires much patient looking to see what the painting requires in order to complete itself. My goal is to stay as close to the edge as possibleto keep that sense of natural happening, as if the painting had grown itself rather than having been crafted by me. Yet it is the artists eye, which seeks to prevailtelling the hand to add that last brush stroke which brings it all together.
I paint to loud music--classical, rock, jazz, blues, new age--whatever it is that makes me want to open a tube of paint that day. My limbs move to the beat. I stretch, leap, splash--frenzied or at peace, but never settled, never in a comfortable place. I have to keep moving, to spend my time on the boundaries looking over the edge. I don''t want to paint anything I''ve seen before. My work goes best when I tune out the words in my head and simply engage in the visual experience. I shut off the logical, conscious part of my mind and give myself over to the experience of faith--faith that the work itself will show me what to do next. My current work is about play and ambiguity. I challenge myself to turn random selections into an aesthetic adventure. Each painting takes numerous sessions of quick action painting that is almost accidental, as well as carefully controlled development of color, form and overall design. It is the finely tuned balance between wildness and control that produces the final effect

PAINTING PROCESS: I apply swabs of color directly from the tube, and then quickly paint over them with a thin wash (paint diluted with water and glaze), using a large brush and covering the whole canvas quickly. The colors melt and blend. I turn the painting 90 degrees and once again apply swabs of color. This time I flatten each color a bit with a palette knife. Then I use a large brush to cover the canvas quickly with a thin wash. I work on the painting over several days, applying thick lines of paint in quick strokes directly from the tube. I also use a brush to apply colors mixed in jars, often with a glaze added in order to get translucent effects. Next, I screw caps on the tubes of paint, each with a small opening that allows me to draw with the paint, like decorating a cake.I draw more lines, and then start filling in some of the outlined spaces with solid color. I use a variety of approaches until the painting is complete: drawing lines, filling in details, or applying loose strokes with a brush or palette knife.In the last stages of the painting, I spend a lot of time staring at the canvas, scanning its surface, waiting for it to tell me what it needs in order to complete itself.
How to Look at Abstract Art
As a non-objective painter who does not start with any "subject" except the painting itself, it always bothers me when people immediately try to pin down a "realistic" image in my paintings. It''s not that "seeing things" in abstract paintings is so terrible, even if the artist didn''t put them there. It''s that you miss the real view if you spend all your energy trying to turn the painting into something "recognizable" like a figure or flower or landscape.
What do you actually see when you look at the painting? Colors, shapes, lines, spaces, and textures are the physical elements that combine to make the total image. A selection of dark, heavy shapes may impress you as somber--light, airy images as mystical--balanced, temperate forms as peaceful. Shape, color, and form have meaning in and of themselves. We react emotionally to these elements even if they create no recognizable object for us to hang on to. Thus, a painting of ragged, sharp forms in deep reds will remind an entirely different feeling from one in soft curves of yellow and white. The handling of space--or the illusion of space--is another element in the artist''s toolbox. Are you drawn into a world of three-dimensional space stretching beyond the framework of the painting, as you might be in a landscape? Or are you kept visually taut, as a skater on a pond, skimming across a two-dimensional surface? The impression of depth, perspective, openness, strength, and other spatial relations are created and controlled by the artist.

Have you ever looked at a painting or photograph and felt it was "off balance"? One of the big differences between amateur snapshots and professional photographs is the poor composition of many snapshots. Perhaps all the action is centered on the left side of the photo, with nothing but empty space on the right. It gives you the feeling it''s unbalanced. Composition (also called "design") is one of the first things art students are taught. In a nutshell, the idea is to have a balance of visual elements without making the weight so balanced that the art becomes boring. If everything on the left is exactly equal to the right, and the top to the bottom, you may have balance, but you lose interest. Getting the composition right--that is, balancing the elements of color, line, and shape while maintaining a dynamic tension--is a major preoccupation of the painter. If you add a blue brushstroke to the bottom left-hand corner, for example, you may have to change something in the top right-hand corner because of it. You can''t concentrate on one section at a time, ignoring the rest of the canvas, and expect to end up with a composition that works.
When you look at an abstract painting, don''t start by searching for some identifiable object from your world. Instead, try to enter the world the artist created. Relax. Let your eye restful walk over the painting''s surface. Let your heart react to its colors, shapes, and textures. Let yourself be drawn into the illusion of its spaces, the action of its lines, its atmosphere. Step back and look at the painting from a distance. What is its contact as you approach it? Move up close and explore the workings of brushstrokes, paint thicknesses and compositional details. See how the parts are woven together to form the whole. Give the painting time. No artwork can be understood and appreciated in a ten second glance. Good art should grow on you, becoming more interesting and more pleasant to look at as you live with it. You may still "see" things in abstract paintings--finding birds and trees and animals hidden in the shapes. There''s nothing wrong with this. But by opening your eyes to the potential of the world the artist created, you may see more than you ever expected to see in abstract art.

MORE INFO : Group Exhibitions: YSMFA,1993 Yaroslavl, Recent Works by Mikhail Priorov & Elena Ovsyannikova; 1994 The Record Gallery; 1994 VDNH, Six-person Show; 1994 Annual IFA Art Exhibition; 1995 IFA Annual Exhibition; 1992 CDM Art , others
Bibliography: 1/11/93 Exhibition Catalog; 11/9/92 Exhibition Catalog, text plus photo-illustration; 1995 BFR, Exhibition catalog; 1992 Grafomania , book of lyrics; 1998 Art&Design, Moscow University of Commerce; 2000-2001 stuff for the radio site
Art Talks and Literary Readings: School of Music and Art 1999; Poets Club at Bogdanovitch Museum 1998; TV art talk to board of directors , 1996 Winter Nights, reading of poetry and prose to celebrate art opening; 1996 reading of short story at Literature Conference, Belkino; 1996: reading from GRAFOMANIA sponsored by The University Center, State University; 1996 All Russian Young Writers Festival, reading from lyrics with discussion following, aired live on public radio YGTRC; 1993 Yaroslavl Radio, reading of poetry and prose at solo show opening.
Education: 1982-1987 Moscow University of Industrial and Applied Arts named by Stroganoff; painting, tapestry and interior design; 1977-1982 Moscow College of Fine Arts named by 1905; life-drawing, painting, design, printmaking, art history; 1998 BBC, UK, on-the-job training, JICAP program; 1995 Business for Russia, VT, USA, internship


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