Samir Rakhmanov: Art as a Spiritual Experience

BY THE RUSSIAN ARK |  OCT 15, 2020

The Russian Ark  Do you remember your first encounter with art? 

Samir Rakhmanov  My first meeting with art occurred when I was 5 or 6 years old, looking at the drawings and sketches that my father used to do as a hobby. I remember being impressed by his works and trying to replicate them afterwards. Only many years later did I come across works of art by great masters.

RA  Where did you spend your childhood? Did it influence your artistic practice? 

SR  My childhood was spent between Ukraine and Azerbaijan. I am not sure how much that cultural experience influenced my art, but the scenery and landscapes of those place have always amazed me. Especially fascinating to me were the sunsets and evenings on prairies and fields in Ukraine and the green mountains and hills of Big Caucasus in Azerbaijan. 

RA  What excites you the most in the painting process?

SR  Creating harmony on the canvas. 

RA  Which great masters paved the way for you and influenced the way you think about your art?

SR  It would be difficult to mention all the artists who have influenced me. Names that come to mind immediately are Velasquez, Serov, Vuillard, Rembrandt, Diebenkorn, and Titian.  

"Spiritual experiences, it seems, should not necessarily be tied to any specific religion. Artists should be able to invite viewers to connect to spirituality through their works of art."

— SAMIR RAKHMANOV

Artwork © 2020 Samir Rakhmanov

RA  What is “good taste”?

SR  Taste is the ability of aesthetic perception. Like every other ability, it is either innate (which is rare) or acquired and trained throughout a lifetime.

RA  Which painting you could look at the whole life without getting tired?

SR  Las Meninas by Velázquez.

RA  How do you understand that a painting is finished?

SR  When I am not certain what to do next, or my further edits do not meaningfully change anything.

RA  What is the hardest part about painting?

SR  Not to get lost in my own process.

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Artwork © 2020 Samir Rakhmanov

RA  What is “beauty”? Can it be objective?

SR  It depends on the definition of beauty. I do not think it is possible to identify a single uniform definition. 

RA  If you could look over the shoulder of any great artist at work, who would it be?

SR  Serov.

RA  A painter is a composer or a musician? 

SR  Everyone decides for him- or herself. But an “artist” must be a composer if he calls himself one.

THE RUSSIAN ARK

HIGHLIGHTS

RA  Shall an artist be hungry? 

SR  Of course not. No one should.

RA  What can modern creative people offer to the world?

SR  Since religion tends to recede to the background of our lives, there might be (or already is) a lack of spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences, it seems, should not necessarily be tied to any specific religion. Artists should be able to invite viewers to connect to spirituality through their works of art.

Artwork © 2020 Samir Rakhmanov

RA  Would you mind sharing with us one fond memory from the Repin Art Academy days?

SR  A winter plein air session in an Academic garden during my 2nd year under the tutelage of Igor Petrov. Painting in -15 C is unforgettable.