Oleg Korolev can be described as a “new master”. Elements of olde masters infiltrate his work, yet he remains completely modern and original. Spirituality is evident even in his paintings where it is not centralized. The subjects of his work are not “non descript” figments but rather real people…imagined or not. His ability to capture metaphor with paint is extraordinary. And his use of golden hues gives his art a divine, edenic feel. In a digitized world, it is beautiful to see art with depth and texture. One can almost smell the oil paint and museum floors.
Ara: When did you first discover that you were an artist?
Oleg Korolev: Perhaps it had to do with the inner feelings, subjectiveemotions, which everyone has in very early childhood. This is a sort of condition, which then could not be labeled or recognized as a concept based on time and space dimensions.I guess it happened with me in the pre-conceptual age. When one, seeing the sun, still doesn’t know that this is a star with such a name. When one, feeling the rain drops on his shoulders, still is not aware that this is water. And when one, looking at a tree, still cannot form an idea that this is a plant, or whatever else.
Ara: What influences your work? Other art? God? Nature?
Oleg Korolev: Each move is dictated by inner necessity. The reason why some archetype will manifest itself on a canvas cannot be consciously realized. One may only guess why he painted a multicolored flower, or a green caw for instance. An artist trains his unconscious the same way a peasant sows the field; he gets the impressions and they return as metaphorical images. Very often the inner connections with the archetype may appear as synchronicity in the Jungian meaning. For example, an image of an angel may appear on the painting composition three years earlier than the model for the face was born. Everything comes from the subliminal space of mind, because the whole Universe (all times and spaces),have been connected to it.
Ara: The first painting that moved you?
Oleg Korolev: It seems it was in my early childhood in Vilnius. My father brought me to the Cathedral, where in Soviet times we had a wonderful art museum filled with the huge Baroque paintings. I do not remember the exact picture but I remember a feeling of presence in front of it, a charming flicker of the old painting varnish, and the meditative and sweet sound of a church organ. The floor at the museum had a sort of ventilating grating built in and under it. In the twilight, glittered thousands of coins, which people had thrown. So, I would say that it wasn’t just one painting but a kingdom of paintings, who’s entrance was the door of that art museum.
Ara: Your first painting that moved others?
Oleg Korolev: Many people sent me letters and comments about the “Prodigal Son” work, which was painted as an interpretation of the Gospel’s parable, told by Jesus Christ. The painting was published several times and I even had to paint its second variant. Some people said that the work had become a reason for deep transformation in them. Of course I was inspired by Rembrandt’s “Prodigal son”, which we have in the Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg. It was a sort of a dialog through time and not just an artistic dialog, but a theological one. Rembrandt was Protestant and thus his work had an objectivist’s perspective of religious materialism. In the doctrine, spirituality had been approaching a sort of exaltation, an increased emotionality. Outer approach of all, is objectively very realistic and we see this projection in the painting. Realism is actually a pure Protestant’s invention. My “Prodigal Son”painting is related to the Orthodox Christian doctrine, which is just not about “good deeds” (which actually most often bring nothing except human pride), but it is about the inner energetical ransfiguration of human nature. The images of the prodigal son and the father depict the Onnes in different states. The whole story, in that respect, symbolizes a vain, but repented mind. One which has returned to its eternal source.
Ara: What is the root of the spiritual aspect of your work? I’m thinking particularly of St. Paul and the works of “Divine Gloom”.
Oleg Korolev: “Peresvet , Oslyabya, Divine Gloom” is visionary, contemplative art work. It is a realization based on the interpretations of the “Mystical Theology” by St.Dionysius the Areopagite. Divine Gloom is actually an Apophatic (via negativa) term … which means “the Divine Light” which is inaccessible by perception. As Dionysius wrote to Dorotheus : “The Divine gloom is the unapproachable light in which God is said to dwell”. Terms: “Divine Gloom” as well as “Agnosia”, may describe the state of contact to divinity.” Divine Gloom ” is the darkness, which appears because is neither a possibility nor an impossibility of cognition, but that which lays beyond mental capability and knowledge. It is ” the most Divine Knowledge of Almighty God”, which is known through not knowing (agnosia) because the mind stands apart from existence. As an opposition to it, an idea “via positiva”: images of Peresvet and Oslyabya – two epic heroes and Saints who are portrayed on the composition being surrounded by angels, mystical animals, and symbols. These are the cataphatic notions– the images of the assertion. My idea was to represent the two paths of perception (negative and positive) in one space, for an actual neutralization of them both. via mystical theology, which can not be expressed neither by assertion of an image (cataphatic way) and a sacred myth, nor by its total rejection ” ” vision. He was Saul of Tarsus then he becomes Paul the So for this reason, he is depicted as being naked and free (from onceptions), in the sea of the living light. It made him blind, because he never perceived a slave of an artificial, human invented instruction. He was released from the written law by means of the alive nature of the law. So, the spiritual aspect of “Paul” is in the idea of ultimate freedom and life.
Ara: Your use of golden hues in your work is almost Edenic or divine. Is this done with purpose?
Oleg Korolev: This actually has to do with the canonical description of the divine light or the gospel’s tabor light. In the iconography it is usually depicted as as white, golden, or sometimes even a shade of blue. Most often it has been described as white with the golden hue. Christian fathers, which practice mental ascesis, also describe the divine light in the same terms.
Ara: Are any of your paintings inspired by music?
Oleg Korolev: I would say that the dynamic process of painting is supported by music but not directly inspired. I listen to various sorts of music…from classical to neofolk style. Listening to music is like stirring up consciousness and putting it in light trance condition. A piece of music helps tear a person away from the ordinary,mundane, and lazy and it creates an inner creative a space of silence. It may be so loud that it works as a silencer for the inner dialogue and thus clears the field for concentration. For this goal, industrial, martial, or pagan metal works well.
Ara: Your work has a very old world feel yet it is completely original and modern. Are you inspired by the classic works?
Oleg Korolev: I must say that in my youth I went through most styles. I painted “as Van Gogh”, “as Manet”, “as Matiss”, as well as “as Picasso” and “as Dali”. Of course I also tried to paint “as Vrubel”, “as Surikov”, “as Korovin” and “as Repin”. I guess this is normal for a young artist to imitate styles during their education. As Taoists say “one is able to put his foot to the footprint of the master”. I was also developing my culturological, philosophical, and esoteric views. The studies brought me to a deep understanding of the destructive nature of many modernist styles, not mentioning the post-modernist ones. Modernism destroyed the “divine geometry” and post-modernist’s “contemporary art” has completely cut out human consciousness from the beauty of the internal transcendent source. It tore out the immanent beauty of the external, nature, space, and the universe. It also locked the limited fragment of consciousness to the empty simulacrum of the secondary social myth. It embraces neither the inner abyss nor the outer one, therefore it offers a completely artificial, mentally constructed agenda that has no natural energetic feeds– neither internal, nor external. So to exist, it must appeal to the energy of the audience and to society itself, always “provoking” it with the next destruction of taboo, blasphemy or hooliganism… thus feeding itself as an ordinary energetic parasite. I believe that a human being is far from just a social unit or a social animal… as the post-modern “contemporary art” presents it. It is not only dehumanizing but a completely anti-human secular-satanic teaching. I believe that humans have a right to remember themselves as spiritual and cosmic creatures, with free souls and immortal spirits. It forbids us to do this and imposes the vile ego and lowest instincts onto us as “human rights”. Being purposed solely to the social life and it’s cockroach races, a person inevitably becomes stressed, humiliated, disappointed, and devastated. This world is just a school of the “prodigal son”, a place to xperience the vanity of the vanities, and thus to be lost and unhappy. People here are just forced to look for a happiness in illusionary realms but it always escapes with the next dvertisement of some new stuff on TV. So a new human art is the art of the of the returning “prodigal son”. It must appeal and connect to the inner and outer spaces to get light from both he inner and outer suns. It may help release human beings from the post-modernity wraith and help them to recall their own eterrnal dignity. A right, non heretical path may only go through the enlightened millennial tradition of spirituality and art. Although I use a very traditional painting technique (which appeals to the art of the old masters), my works look modern because of the archeo-modern, archeo-futuristic, or better yet conservative-revolutionary content and its connection to transcendence.
Ara: Describe your work metaphorically.
Oleg Korolev: An archaic holy man, flying on a super modern spacecraft!
Ara: Where was your first gallery opening?
Oleg Korolev: I took part in the group art exhibition in London in 1992.
Ara: In your opinion, the most artistically inspiring subject?
Oleg Korolev: I love folk tales and sacred scriptures. They inspire me not just as historical texts but as methods of self-cognition and of understanding the energetic relationships of the present by means of the archetypical stories, which they contain. The opposite way is also valid. I mean some current case or problem can be interpreted and artistically decided via the wisdom of the past.
Ara: I once described love and death as the same thing. Do you have a painting that describes love? Death? Or both?
Oleg Korolev: I would guess that “love and death as the same thing “could be described only virtually… in relation to ego, maybe. Like: love comes when the ego dies… and I think everyone would be happy to die when their life is finished because of love and being in the state of the unbearable sweetness of love. Why? Because “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” We are afraid of death because of the sensation of fear. A loving one will not be punished by the eternal death so he isn’t afraid. He subconsciously knows it. The loving one will not die,therefore love this is life rather than death. I have a painting with a title “Eternal Love”. “Eternal” and yet,it’s about a fleetingness… the embrace of these two as a blossom of life for that instant in which the rainbow appears and then newly disappears. The pure colour of the spectrum is identical to the seven floors of the consciousnesses, which miraculously meet on wink in one point of the universe and represent an incarnation of the person. Perhaps this is a tantric point… the rainbow and the dandelion burning, as well as the embrace that only continues for an instant but is titled “Eternal Love”! The work meaning is exactly in its contra-position. The eternal love does not stop after all of that! In this fleeting instant it expresses itself on our level of the reality perception. The eternal love neither has a beginning, nor the end, but it is an expression in the temporary.
Ara: What is art to you?
Oleg Korolev: Art is a personal interpretation of the internal and external sources of beauty by means of visual language, which can be understood by others.
Ara: What is art to the world?
Oleg Korolev: Society may use art as a visualized Weltanschauung, which confirms cultural self-identity, or in the case of contemporary art” – destroys it. Pre-modern art was used by people with mystical goals. It gave a room for the manifestation of the invisible in the visible. It had to do with the ontological symbols and energies. Art of the big modern, created a modern person with an individualistic ego. Current post-modern art has been producing a post-individual, which is devoid of any clear self-identity. A post-individual is actually a “dehumanized human” being, which already has no any cultural, ethnical, gender, racial, or national identity. “Contemporary Art” produces a liberal zombie, which mentally does not contain any defensive human cultural taboos. Today this is a culturally lobotomized plain sheet, which believes that it has been liberated from all that “old stuff” and is now completely ready for the “new age” of the “new world order”. The creature doesn’t guess that it is just human material for global future cyborgization. A standard, genetically constructed, cloned cyborg will be much cheaper than any “replacement immigration” worker. With the speed in which the computer revolution is moving, we may get to post-human “humanity” very soon. But in the meantime, the art of the archeo-modern, archeo-futurism, or conservative-revolutionary, is moving in a radically opposite direction. This is a way to neo-humanism, the confirmation of all the human identities as it appeals to the natural traditon of humankind.