SAM KAPRIELOV Also known as SAM STURIS (born 1971)
SURREALISM (founded c.1924)
Equus (England, 2003)
Charcoal on gessoed board
Description / Expertise
Sam Kaprielov was born in Ventspils on the West Coast of Latvia; he attended art college in St Petersburg before returning to Riga. Many a nineteenth century artist started their career as a painter of theatrical scenery; Sam Kaprielov began his as a billboard painter as it was the most lucrative form of employment for an emerging artist. He moved to Venice to become a mask-maker in 1992 and arrived in London via a two-year spell in Avignon in 1998.
The intensity of Sam Kaprielov’s vision lies in his superb draughtsmanship, his innovative and consummate technical ability and the confidence of his compositions. The subtle and elaborate harmonies of his delicately drawn monochrome buildings, ritual objects and figures recall the direct lyrical structure of the Symbolist poets, who believed language itself - the phonetic properties of words and their connotations was self sufficient and self-justifying.
Sam Kaprielov rarely talks about his work, but states that it does not necessarily refer to anything outside itself. A love of architecture and a study of Kafka are two constant elements of his ever-changing dreamscape. Deserted ruins, crumbling statues and solitary masked figures echo the timeless internalised worlds of the symbolist fin de siècle painters, whilst the bizarre juxtaposition of objects and peoples recall those irrational realms of the unconscious explored by André Breton’s Surrealist group. An imaginary world, rich with diversity of cultures, fortified with Classical, High Renaissance and Romantic iconography, Kaprielov’s drawings contain references but do not ape any specific movement.
From the soft sfumato of his early drawings of the mysterious world of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis to his more recent works of vivid clarity, Sam Kaprielov has graduated from using charcoal on paper to Rembrant pastels combined with a fine charcoal pencil. With these tools, Kaprielov’s secure draughtsmanship onto the prepared gessoed board begins the process, which he continues by finely scratching out the whites and lighter areas. Later he builds up the detail with the charcoal pencil. This meticulous academic technique at first glance gives the illusion of a black and white photograph. On closer inspection the viewer beholds a fantastical dream, technically reminiscent of the delirious hand-painted dream photographs of Salvador Dali. Sam Kaprielov’s own hallucinogenic effects are never drug induced.
So much of the contemporary art scene in London is bound up in explorations of physicality. It is refreshing to come across an original artist whose mind's eye is always exploratory and does not seek a specific response from his viewers; instead a marriage of imaginations. Viewing a series of his images instils a sense of half-remembered scenes from a haunting silent movie or the shadows of distant memories.