Nikolai Vasilevich Kuzmin tells about his origins,
how he became an artist
and what painting means to him.
In my childhood I loved art more than anything else in the world. I've had this passion for drawing and the dream of becoming an artist ever since then. Since my mother's first lessons when she held my hand and drew with me a red apple on a sheet of paper.
When I went to school I drew a lot and liked to read stories and tales about artists and art. I also collected postcards with reproductions of paintings, decorated toys and pottery. Incidentally, there were many things of this kind in the Nizhniy Novgorod region - the centre of Russian traditional crafts such as Khokhloma style of painting of wooden tableware; Maidana; Skan', openwork or soldered tracery of gold, silver or copper wire; special blacksmith's crafts; icons.
The majestic Oka river
A house with carved wooden motives
Decorated with paintings were spinning wheels, spoons, pots, wicker baskets, wooden village houses with carved decorative frames around the windows (casings), gates of these houses with carved wooden lions, maidens and suns, some small figures of dogs, hunters, horses, and toys cut by my father from cardboard, the beautiful natural surroundings, and the majestic Oka river. That was the atmosphere of my childhood.
Naturally, after leaving school I entered the arts college of the old town of Pavlovo on Oka, where the wonderful people and masters, my tutors, developed my will to become an artist and prepared me for the Stroganov Art Academy in Moscow. I graduated from the academy in 1970.
The Basil the Blessed cathedral
on Red Square in Moscow
Studying the old Russian architecture and icon paintings and painting outdoors in the monestry grounds in the old historical parts of Moscow and other towns in search of the sources of art, its very beginning. To me it is folk art, the spirit of ancient creativity and attitude to the world which I develop with contemporary means of painting while continuing the tradition of Russian art.
In each painting I try to express my gratitude for every moment of reality that is opened to me. From my very first painting exercises I search for the Inner Light - the light that connects me with reality.
And now after a long period of life and work I try to find a way to paint the beautiful sun on the light azure and pearl-white sky.
Immense spaces, light and freedom in search of beauty are my painting ideals.
May 20, 1993
Nikolai Kuzmin in his Muscovite workshop, with his daughter Liubov Kuzmina
Nikolai Kuzmin with his fellow artist Daniel Gallais and Liubov Kuzmina in front of his work presented in Grand Palais
The painter concentrated on his work
Nikolai Kuzmin in his Muscovite workshop, with his wife Zoya Kuzmina