Anthony Lebedev. Beautiful in the ordinary.
Anthony Lebedev has been painting since he was only 7 years old. He painted with pastel, pencil, watercolor, coal and oil paints. At the age of 12, he entered the youth school of visual arts in Samara with excellent results. Focused on oil painting since 2014, Anthony creates around 20 new paintings per year; paintings dominated by strange, sometimes disturbing, but fascinating images.
I am often asked: why are your paintings exactly like that? Why do you portray images that are familiar to us, but in an unusual way? After all, not everyone considers it suitable for the fine arts. I myself cannot answer this question, because I draw what excites my consciousness, which causes some deep feelings in me. I am not focused on one image, but perhaps you can try to combine all these images by understanding my past life and my character. My childhood was poor, but quite happy. The difficult situation in the country, and the parents moved from place to place. One of these places was the village. We have lived there for 3 years and those were pretty happy years because children love nature. But at school, I pitted myself against the rest of society. My behavior was different. I behaved provocatively, disobeying the rules and regulations, often even provoking everyone in order to provoke some kind of reaction. And then I liked it.
Then, without waiting for graduation from school, I entered college at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, because my drawing skills were already outstanding then. After graduating from college and finishing it brilliantly, I went to college and at the same time went to work. I forgot about painting, and took up a career.
In 2008 I was accidentally offered to work in Africa, in Guinea. This is West Africa, the poorest part of the continent. After some doubts and worries, I quit my job and agreed. I was 22 years old.
During a year of living in Guinea, I learned both the bitterness of loneliness, and the joy of traveling and exploring completely different conditions and the lives of other peoples, and the fear that uprisings broke out in the country in connection with the death of the president before my departure. The military all over the country in one night captured Vlas in all cities. Then there was a period when we were forced to move around the city with difficulty, because there was destruction, shooting and fires around. We sat in our villas in the evening, and the light of tracer bullets flashed outside the window. Then I saw the manifestation of human cruelty, and the images that are identified with it. I made the decision to leave.
Arriving in Russia, I, like everyone else, faced the crisis of 2008, and there were some problematic moments that I was hard to worry about, the loss of several jobs, then a job in a taxi, unsuccessful business undertakings. But at one point in 2010, my career began to grow again.
In 2011, I was again accidentally offered to go to Central Asia. I agreed without even thinking. I was running from parting with my wife and a change of culture would be the surest medicine. I left for Uzbekistan. And there, in turn, I learned a completely different world - unhurried, lazy, creative and calm. A world where the main thing is calmness, customs, religion, respect. And although it was difficult for me to work there, because I had to fight irresponsibility, theft, attempts to win the respect of people from another world. But at the same time, I learned how wonderful the unity with nature, simple human joys. How important is patience, measuredness, the ability to simply have fun and find beauty in ordinary things - in nature, in people who go about their business, in their philosophical and simple attitude to life, admire their way of life, and of course learn from them. It was definitely a very soulful journey.
After arriving in Russia, I met my second wife. And one day in 2014, her mother donated the remnants of oil paints that remained after the death of my wife's father. He occasionally took a great interest in painting.
And at that moment something clicked inside me. I realized that I have something to portray from what I saw, experienced in life.
Since then, I have been depicting only what is important for me personally, what awakens memories in me, or evokes some feelings in me. And thus I show people that beauty, excitement can be not only in the image of flowers on the table, or fields and forests, sunsets. This is something that often happens around us, but we do not notice it, because either it is too ugly or too fleeting that we have ceased to appreciate it, and have almost ceased to experience excitement from it. But people, their actions and the consequences of these actions, their everyday and strange life are the most exciting things that happen around us.