Fossil fuel muse: How crude oil inspired Russian artists (PHOTOS)

Marsel Shaidullin
These daring and innovative Russian artists give a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘oil on canvas.’

1. Oil is everywhere in Russia, even in the State Tretyakov Gallery. One art work by Moscow-based artist Nikolay Nasedkin is called Svetopad (Lightfall). The artist has been creating with oil for more than 10 years. His works will be displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery starting Sept. 18.

2. Oil is a recurring theme in art works made by popular artist Vasya Lozhkin. “God, how good everything is,” say the men who are covered in oil.

3. Andrei Molodkin’s installations use crude oil to deliver his message: “Oil is the flesh and blood of the Western economy.” To be fair, it’s the flesh and blood of any economy. The artist draws inspiration from politics, economy, and religion.

4. Some artists use oil purely as inspiration, but without any cultural or political context. This print on canvas by Vladimir Migachev sells for $60.

5. Some Russian artists take it a step further, and use oil as paints. Marsel Shaydullin from Ufa (1,200 kilometers east of Moscow) makes his paintings with oil. What makes it even more exciting is that he works as an oilman and combines his full-time job with his original passion.

6. Marsel Shaydullin is not the only one. Vitaly Kasatkin also draws his paintings with oil. “The use of oil gradually goes beyond its monetary value and enters the sphere of art. The artist managed to complement the technique of relief painting with oil. As it turned out, the oil palette can replace the usual bright colors and help to convey the unique flavor of St. Petersburg and the nature of the North,” says the artist on his webpage.

Click here to see the list of 100 main Russian artists you should know.

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