Smirnov’s works are recognizable by their distinctive framework and color structure that create the impression of stained glass or enamel along with a feeling of mystery. A precise linear framework that prevents the transformation of the painting’s surface into chaos of colors achieves this effect. The assurance and boldness of the lines recall the works of Picasso done between 1910 and 1920. But the resemblance to the famous cubist artist ends there. Smirnov is not interested in the analytical division of objects into their components. His method is really the opposite. It is the melding of forms rather than their destruction, harmony, not dissonance. People, beasts, birds, fish, fruits, flowers, art objects, everything is united by the beauty of Igor Smirnov’s harmonious fantasy world that stands before us like the embodiment of music in line and color.
Igor Smirnov, a son of famous Russian landscape artist Vasili Smirnov, began painting when he was very young. Eventually, he developed his own unique style of “symbolic realism.” It bears no resemblance to either socialistic realism or any of the numerous avant-garde ‘isms’ of the twentieth century. The artist considers a piece of art as a source of information presented in symbolic form that is associated by the contemporary audience as a virtual space of our spiritual life. Smirnov’s art is based on a deep understanding of eternal values and the subconscious effect of art forms and colors on the human psyche, emotions and well-being. It brings positive associations to the audience and thus enhances the global spiritual atmosphere.
Igor Smirnov began his art career at the College of Fine Art. Then he obtained M.S. in Engineering & Design at the Naval Academy, where his rich depth as an artist was enhanced by his knowledge of geometric forms and proportions. Later he spent two years restoring priceless icons and paintings at RUSSIAN MUSEUM OF ART and MUSEUM OF URBAN SCULPTURE in St. Petersburg, Russia. From early 1980’s he participated in the movement of non-conformist or “underground” art in Russia.
Igor Smirnov’s artworks attracted the attention of John Whitehead, the US Deputy Secretary of State, when he visited Moscow in December of 1987 in preparation for the meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Following Mr Whitehead’s personal request to the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Shevardnadze, the authorities of USSR let Igor Smirnov immigrate to United States. The artist happily settled in California enjoying the benefits and stimulation of the new environment.
Since that time Igor Smirnov gained worldwide recognition with his paintings displayed in museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, Asia and Russia. The relationships between time and space always were at the forefront of philosophical thinking and found expression in visual art. It may be said that the twentieth century had indeed manifested an insatiable thirst for the interpretations and reinterpretations of time. There were a number of attempts of reformation, transformation and even refutation of the basic concepts of art in the search for the fourth dimension reverberating echoes of time in visual art. Following the new theories of philosophy, physics and psychology which appeared in this century, visual art created a new language for the representation of time. Thus, time became not only the key point of life but of art as well, allowing us to evaluate art in the light of its relationship to temporality.
At the beginning of the third millennium, the tendency to immerse in fin du Siecle esthetics became very popular and is reflected in the content of visual art. The apocalyptic nature of this era creates emotional stress and the feeling of instability. The artist finds himself in an almost unforeseeable situation when everything in his world tumbles out of control without stability in a state of permanent flux. Moreover, the course of global events and the radical increase of the tempo of modern life lead to the transformation of consciousness and the alteration of the processes of perception, evaluation and interpretation of art by the audience. As a result, in order to find a place in the context of modern art, the artist has to realize how he can create the symbolic equivalent of a constantly changing external world.
Due to the desire to reflect the values and ‘realities’ of the world around them, many artists create art that is restless and momentary. However, if we examine the artworks that are considered to be masterpieces, such as the art of Italian Renaissance, Classicism, and the art of the beginning of the twentieth century, we will find that they always reflect eternal values along with the concrete moments of time and life. The act of evaluation and interpretation of art, and by extension the creation of great art, is not a momentary act of observation and passive acceptance. It is an active immersion in the artwork and in your own subconscious. Contemporary art demands the same involvement and, in fact, is even more pretentious in its own way than already culturally assimilated old masters, but the technique for evaluation is absolutely different.
The contemporary art viewer is brought up in a computerized, technological environment and is familiar with virtual space from his childhood. The viewer is accustomed to dealing with symbolic forms through the associative thought process as well as through modern technology. In the modern world art and technology are mixed and coexist together. The audience of the twenty-first century can perceive art in both ways – as a piece of art and as a source of information presented in symbolic form.