Born in Moscow in 1952, Vasily
Kafanov was the son of a poet father and journalist mother and was raised
in a one-room, multi-generational household typical of conditions during
the country's dire housing shortage. He first studied textile design
at the Department of Applied Arts of the prestigious Moscow Technological
Institute, receiving his degree in 1978. In 1984, he was awarded a second
degree in animation from the Ministry of Film. Kafanov has had a distinguished
career in Russia, becoming a member of the prestigious and world-renowned
Artist Union. In spite of being a protégé of Marc Chagall, his work
was largely unknown in the West until the late 1980's. Today he resides in New York where
he keeps working on his paintings.
Kafanov's favorite occupation
is illustrating children's books, an activity held in high esteem in
a society that places much greater emphasis on literature than does
ours. Since 1980, he has produced drawings for some 20 books (many,
for some reason, Russian translations of works by Italian and Latin
American authors); since coming to the United States, Kafanov has contributed
drawings to The New York Times and has illustrated a book for Simon
His love of illustration is
always present in his works, which are often termed Chagallesque by
more perceptive critics in the US and Europe on account of their fairytale
nature, other-worldly moods, and obsession with the surreal, the mysterious,
and the whimsical. Even now, although Vasily style has evolved to become
highly original and distinct, there are echoes of Chagall's themes and
Kafanov's scenes suggest faraway
places and times: the barely defined landscapes and limitless skies
recall the remote, shadowy realms of folk literature and fairy tales;
his castles, thrones, churches, traveling minstrels, court jesters,
kings and queens, and dancing harlequins recall the festivals and masquerades
of medieval times. Or perhaps these places only exist in the imagination.
The trademark of his artistic creation is the@, an emblem best explained by the artist
When I was born, the
first thing I saw out the maternity ward window on the outskirts of
Moscow was a bell tower. It was an old bell tower, used by the
soldiers practicing parachute jumps. As a child I desperately
wanted a fish bowl. For hours I could watch fish swimming in the
water. Unfortunately, in our small room there was no space for
a real fish bowl. My grandmother took pity on me and bought me
a goldfish in a glass jar. For some reason, those goldfishes had
a tendency to die one after another, and whenever I returned from
daycare to find the jar empty, my grandmother would tell me that the
fish had flown away. Many years later, when I saw the Manhattan
island, which resembles the shape of a big fish with skyscrapers towering
on its back, I once again found myself in the world of childhood's
flying fish and towers.
After several successful exhibitions of Kafanov's oil paintings, the gallery proud to present his original works on paper, as another side of his artistic creativity
Kafanov's distinctive meticulous style is still
evident in this series. He combines architecture, still life, portraiture
and figurative techniques, along with a delicate color palette (sepia,
beige, brown and grays) to refer to actual European sites, as well as
private moments and sentimental photographs. Each painting is rich in
composition comprising of five or six different story lines.
His paintings hang in the Zimmerli
Museum at Rutgers University and Beaulieu Museum in France as well as
in numerous private collections. He has been commissioned to create
murals to decorate a private residence in California and a public space
in Amsterdam. Vasily generously gives his work to charity and participates
in auctions benefiting several non -profit foundations. He has painted
murals in the children's ward of the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
in New York City and was part of the American Cancer Society exhibit
and the Leukemia Foundation auction at the Lincoln Center.
1999-present Grant Gallery, SOHO, New York
2006 National Arts Club, New York.
International Art Show, Moscow, Russia
Group show, AG Gallery, Moscow.
2005 Auction, Drouot Richelieu, Paris
2003 Auction -Benefit.
UJA-Federation of New York, New York
The SVG Collection. Nantucket, Massachusetts
2002 Solo show in Broome
Street Gallery, New York.
LEARNING THROUGH THE ARTS, Auction -Benefit. Houston, Texas.
The SVG Collection, Nantucket, Massachusetts
2001 The SVG Collection.
USA Traveling Show
2000 The SVG Collection.
Solo show in Broome Street Gallery, New York.
Art Project for the Smashing Pumpkins: Stage Design, CD cover, etc
1999 Artmosphere, Palm
The SVG Collection, Nantucket. Massachusetts
Gallery 54, New York.
Painted several murals in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Arnhem, Holland.
1998 Gallery 54, New York
Artmosphere, Palm Beach. Florida