Interview with Russian Artist Oleg Sheludyakov
Russian artist Oleg Sheludyakov was born in 1971 in Novosibirsk, Siberia and attended Kaleidoscope Art School. At the age of 17, he began his studies in Architecture at the Novosibirsk Engineering Institute. In 1995 he graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Humanities from Novosibirsk State University. He later studied monumental painting at Novosibirsk Fine Arts and Architectural Academy and drawing at the Fine Arts Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He has been a member of the International Federation of Artists and National Creative Union of Russia Artists since 2001.
Sheludyakov has been an active art professional for fifteen years, based primarily in Nice, France and never had any other career aspirations before becoming a painter. Although he was raised in a highly intellectual Siberian city known for its scientific achievements and advancements, the artist believes that any academic diplomas, degrees or certificates he previously obtained have not played a significant role. Instead, he insists that the practical skills he has acquired over the years have been the most important factor in his artistic process. For Sheludyakov, conceptualizing and preparing a specific work of art is a fluid, flexible process. His atelier, or studio, is located in his apartment.
However, he dreams of opening his own fine art gallery in the future, especially since the art world in Nice, France is quite rigid – everything is extremely structured. In order to gain success, he stated that artists must associate themselves with a particular group or society. Such rigidity in the system makes it difficult to work as an independent artist. Conversely, the process is more flexible in Novosibirsk where he is more well-known and respected. This is due to the strong family and community ties he continues to nurture even though he resides on the Côte d’Azur in southern France. In addition, he believes his style is perfectly suited to the local tastes of his native city. Unfortunately, the Siberian city lacks a solid art market – it is virtually non-existent. Perhaps this is due to its geopolitical isolation; its relative location being far removed from the world’s great art markets in New York, Beijing, and Berlin.
In order to attract interest for his work, Sheludyakov often prepares painting and drawing workshops in his atelier. Despite increased advances in public relations and social media marketing methods, the painter has limited interaction with other international art professionals and shuns current trends in the art world. He was influenced by other artists, writers, architects, and designers many years ago, but now relies on the immediacy of his environment for inspiration. The artist is reluctant to utilize Facebook and Twitter as a vehicle to promote his work. Instead he relies on alternate methods of artist-gallery channels of communication. This uncertainty about social media is proving to be difficult in an age of continual news feeds and instant status updates.
The lack of an official agent or manager also impedes his progress, somewhat. In addition, it is sometimes rather difficult retrieving your work after an exhibition, since some gallery owners lose both interest and motivation to return borrowed items afterward. However, there are many advantages of working as an independent artist. Sheludyakov is able to confront the “metaphysical side of reality” every day. He is an avid reader, amateur photographer, and enjoys the cinema and traveling. He appreciates feminine beauty and attempts to magically translate that love onto a canvas or linen, his preferred medium. When asked if his work as a particular message or theme, his response was quite simple: “Enjoy life.”
Shelduyakov has had exhibitions in more than 25 countries, including Russia, France, Italy, Germany, and England. His works are included in the art collections of Novosibirsk Art Museum, The House of Scientists, Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as in various public and private collections around the world. His most successful exhibitions have been in Crete, Hamburg, and Novosibirsk. The least successful was in Washington, D.C. five years ago. He explained that an artist must fit the tastes of the local environment, and should be able to deal with professional gallery owners and art curators. Recent exhibitions have been in Duisberg, Germany and Novosibirsk, Russia (2012), a group exhibition on the Côte d’Azur (April 2013), and a solo exhibition in Novosibirsk (2013).
Note: The artist currently resides in Blois, France.