Honesty in Art – Alex Kanevsky – Ep 65
January 18, 2023
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
You can’t make authentic art without honesty. And in that honesty, we find the freedom to truly be ourselves. To make the kind of art we’ve always wanted to make. Meet Alex Kanevsky. He’s a New Hampshire-based artist whose work possesses the kind of honesty that is soul-stirring. The composition, color, and abstract realism he produces are flawless, and I’m quite literally on the edge of my seat waiting to talk with him. Join us for a conversation that delves deeply into Alex’s creative process and what it means to be honest in our artwork.
Listen if you are interested in…
- The art of emotional connection [2:10]
- The double-sided stick of inner freedom and the indefinable quality of art [10:17]
- Exploring the unexplored through sculpture [23:48]
- Working with models in art-making [28:46]
- How growing up in the Soviet Union informs Alex’s art [39:00]
- The logistics of Alex’s art practice and the road ahead [48:49]
Painting an emotional climate
Many artists use art as a medium to communicate specific messages. Their brushstrokes intentionally speak to philosophical, political, and personal ideas designed to make the audience think. Alex Kanevsky made it very clear that his art is not about a particular message. He is far more interested in conveying a precise emotional climate. Alex achieves this feat by using his visual memory to access a library of images, colors, and lights from his past. For instance, if Alex wants to convey happiness, he will recall a specific snowy winter morning from his 20s when happiness was palpable. He then borrows what he needs from that scene to translate the emotion onto canvas. It’s no wonder that looking at Alex’s work feels like a glimpse or a memory. Memories are the building blocks of his art.
Freedom and Honesty
Making art is a balancing act between the visceral and the universal. It’s not enough to simply paint what you feel. Art that transcends is art that connects. It needs to be both personal and relatable in order to truly be great. For Alex, this was the most difficult part of art-making to learn. His biggest takeaway from a lifetime of artistry is that freedom and honesty are essential pieces to the puzzle. You need to give yourself the freedom to do your own thing. There are so many opinionated and intelligent people telling artists what art should and should not be. But at the end of the day, only you can define that for yourself. You also need honesty. Being honest all the time is difficult, but good art requires it. This too, is about balance because you want to be free. You also don’t want to lose touch with the rest of the world because of that freedom.
A fascinating aspect of Alex’s work is his use of models. For most artists, having someone in their studio can be quite disruptive to the art-making process. This is why it’s so important for Alex to find models with the right chemistry. They need to be neutral in the context of creating the work while also facilitating an atmosphere conducive to creation. Alex usually works with the same models for several years but admits they have a bit of a shelf life due to the boring nature of sitting still for hours on end. There are various ways Alex employs models in his art. Some pictures are based on observation, location, and perception. Others require models to act out or embody certain situations for greater reference. For sculptures the process is so loud and dusty that Alex takes photos of the models so they don’t have to be in the room. Listen to this episode for more on Alex and how he brings his art to life!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Hollis Heichemer’s website (Alex’s wife)
- Follow Hollis Heichemer on Instagram
- The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
- Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Connect with Alex Kanevsky
- Visit Alex’s website
- Follow Alex on Instagram
- Follow Alex on Facebook
- Current Shows:
- Alex’s work can also be found in Goatshed Magazine
Connect with Nicholas Wilton and Art2Life
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the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.