Sergey Sovkov's paintings of young men at play in and near the water have a fresh buoyancy that one doesn't usually associate with Russian art. His styles are wide-ranging, from feather-light gouaches to impasto painting so thick it is like mosaic tiles.
Sovkov spoke to us by email, and we reprint his answers to our questions, mostly unedited to retain his voice, below:
What is it like for you living in Russia today? Are you open about your sexuality and do you feel safe?
Russia today begins to slide to Soviet totalitarianism. Strict vertical of power, which was built by president, leaves less political space for democratic movement. This leads that public interest prevail over individual and civil rights. Corruption, impunity of society elites, controlled justice system, the degradation of education, all these factors will undoubtedly lead to the decline of the Russian society. Of course, I do not feel myself secure in such system. There is a fear of losing job, being subjected to vandalism. There is a fear for friends and relatives.
Now that the Olympics are over and the world is focused on Russia and the Ukraine, do you think people will forget the trouble gay people have in Russia?
This problem was not forgotten and will not be forgotten! There are many phobias, including homophobia in Russian society. Ukraine's problems and the Olympics will distract Kremlin's journalists from the bed of Russian citizens for a while only. I think they will return soon to “restore order” in this question. It is a pity that they are not interested in the fate of orphans and the disabled, about problems of HIV and drug addiction spread, about disorder of small towns, about catastrophic situation of monuments of art in Russian province and many other problems.
How does the Russian culture accept your art? Do you have problems displaying your male figure studies?
Time should past for evaluation of my contribution on Russian culture. At the moment, many of my paintings are being bought be private fund from Moscow with a gallery in St. Petersburg. There are several private collectors in Russia who buy paintings with the male nude on regular base. Two European galleries sell my paintings in Germany and Netherlands. My paintings are in private collections in USA, Canada, China, Italy, and Switzerland. At the moment I cannot say that I have had problems related with the new laws. But it is out of question to organize exhibition with male nudity only!
I am an artist, and perhaps in this sense, I feel better, but my dreams about freedom and creative realization may remain as dreams only!
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