An­ton Ovsianikov

Western Art Collector - - ARTIST FOCUS -

An­ton Ovsianikov has been in­ter­ested in the Wild West since child­hood, with his first ex­po­sure be­ing through the books of James Fen­i­more Cooper and the il­lus­tra­tions of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hi­awatha. He also was drawn to O. Henry’s sto­ries of the ranches and cow­boys be­cause of the au­thor’s unique hu­mor. “It made me dream about In­di­ans,” says the artist. “When I grew up and be­gan to paint, I loved to paint In­di­ans, cow­boys and any­thing to do with their lives. And, of course, as a child I col­lected tin fig­ures of In­di­ans.”

Western movies were rather rare when the artist was grow­ing up, but the ones he saw made a last­ing im­pres­sion. “The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven, for ex­am­ple, I saw about 30 times,” he says. “In my mind I still can see [the] saloon, horses, guns, wild rides and strong men rid­ing and fight­ing.”

He adds, “I think that un­like many of my peers, who were look­ing only at the ac­tors, I was al­ways in­ter­ested in para­pher­na­lia. In the sad­dles, in cups they drink their morn­ing cof­fees from, in the ropes they swing so mas­ter­fully, in their small Bi­bles they al­ways car­ried and type of guns they shoot so ac­cu­rately from. I think I still have this love for those ‘wild times’ with its sim­ple, al­most as­cetic cul­ture, with ev­ery ob­ject so much needed and so much rep­re­sent­ing the way they lived.”

When pre­par­ing for his still life paint­ings, the artist will think of the pos­ses­sions that the peo­ple of those times owned. “I think about this or that hero of the movie I saw, and what he would have put to­gether at this mo­ment in his life, af­ter that scene or be­fore that ac­tion,” he says. “I am not sure I have ex­act ob­jects they used in movies, but I would imag­ine what this per­son would do with the ob­jects I have in my pos­ses­sion. Or, some­times, I would imag­ine how I would pre­pare my own stuff be­fore rid­ing to­gether with this or that char­ac­ter.”

Sad­dles and Spurs, oil on can­vas, 23½ x 33½”

Break­fast on the Farm, oil on can­vas, 19½ x 27½”

Cow­boy’s Bi­ble, oil on can­vas, 157⁄10 x 237⁄10"

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