Nikolai Kozlov

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Nikolai Kozlov
1947-Present

Nikolai Kozlov was born in 1947, in a simple, poor, working class family in Moscow. His first introduction to drawing took place during evening drawing courses held at the Moscow Art School, the preparatory school for the Surikov Institute. He served for three years in the army in the far east of Russia. Immediately after his time in the army, he was accepted to the Art College of 1905 in Moscow. After college, he worked for the state television company making props. In 1974, he was accepted to the All Union Institute of Cinematography in the painting department. He became a teacher at The Moscow Preparatory Art School in 1980. His credo in life has been: "When I teach I learn, when I find something I give it away, when I notice alive results in my students, I experience joy."

Exhibitions partial list

Exhibitions:(partial list)

April 2006, 'Form, Space, & Feeling', Charles City, VA, Longboat Key, FL, and Wilmington, NC


Newspapers:(partial list)
The Observer- Longboat Key, FL
'Impressions and Expressions' — Self Portrait

Artist Thoughts:

"From day to day, from early morning to evening, working in nature, looking and reflecting on the surrounding ever changing landscape with it's multitude of details and feeling, to achieve and exact representation on a canvas or panel I feel, the bountiful creation and enrichment coming from nature, desires are aroused for a deep dialogue with nature, the creation of the objective world in the subjective world behind the picture plane."


"Realism: Is the expression of the essences, it is present in all directions and genres of art, and is the most difficult and demanding form of art, in so much as it is the expression of a whole world of perception, not how I am a part of something bigger than me. The roots of representational art can be traced back to ancient times, to cave paintings of animals where one can note particular attention given to the individual character of form."


"When I teach I learn, when I find something I give it away, when I notice alive results in my students, I experience joy."

Additional Information:

Nikolai Kozlov is also a member of the Moscow River School, a school steeped in the academic tradition. Great emphasis lies on capturing a sense of atmosphere as well as the accurate depiction of space.

Many talented artists consider Kozlov to be one of the greatest living masters of form, space, and spirit. His advice is sought out my many of the Moscow Schools greatest talents.

Artistic Autobiography:
In my youth, finding myself working at an experimental machine-tool factory and studying general subjects in night school, I became fascinated with figurative art and I enrolled in some night classes to study drawing at a Moscow art school, where I became acquainted with the ABC's of figurative literacy. I was quite lucky with the teacher I got: Grigorii Yakovlevich Leibovich, a quiet, modest, intelligent veteran, an artist-teacher with deep professional knowledge. He inspired us, his students, to examine nature closely--to study, sense and meditate on it. Now I understand that those two years of study were fundamental in my introduction to tactile art.

Three years in the army. There was rarely the opportunity to work with paints, but we were constantly in nature, and this was the Far East, the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, by the border with China. The sea and hills, sunrise and sunset, fog, rainy gray ski or blinding sun, wide-open space wherever you looked... Everything intentionally or unintentionally became an object to observe and ponder. After the army, I enrolled in Moscow Art School in Honor of 1905, in the theater department. The studios, the still lifes, the theatrical subjects, the exhibits, the influence of my classmates the fashionable trends in artistic circles--all of this spun around my consciousness like a whirlwind in an endless hypnotic dance. After four years, I came up for air and realized that I knew something, but I hadn't learned much and, most humiliating, I had lost the respectful way of relating to nature.

After finishing art school, I worked as a designer for a TV station, and all year long I was exploring my own relationship to nature.

Beginning in 1974, when I enrolled in the art department of the Soviet Union State Institute of Cinematography and was receiving a broad education in the history and theory of world cinematic arts, dramaturgy, directing and technology, I was examined, chosen and critiqued in my special studies courses, processes which intensified over the years.

The specifics of film are more conventional than are theater's. This conventional character is really closer to what actually happens, to realism, to fact. But it remains just an introduction to a person's thought, brought to the screen in a manner either gifted or clumsy. What's more, the creation of film is a fabrication in which some collective participates, like in the theater, and every member of the creative collective influences the artistic canvas of the work. An actor-producer can alter the will of the director; he can correctly guess at and help uncover an idea, and he can disagree, creating conflict.

In my last year at the Soviet Union State Institute of Cinematography, the idea had already begun to form of what I wanted to pursue, and therefore I chose and defended as the topic of my thesis the poetic work of old Russian literature, "Zadonschina" [By the Don River]. My practicum turned out to be decisive in my creative formation. Especially the work in the Kulikov Field. Here, not far from the merging of the rivers Nepryda and Don, the culmination of two great, opposing powers unfolds: the multilingual Mongol-Tatars Horde, headed by the khan Mamae, who is making his way to capture the Russian land, and the Orthodox warriors with their great prince Dmitrii, fighting until the death in order to defend his country, his homeland, Old Rus'.

Day and day, from morning until late at night, I worked outside, looking at and trying to grasp the meaning of the surrounding, constantly-changing, landscape with so many details, intricacies and nuances, getting an exact reproduction of them on canvas or on panel. Through this I felt a wholesome influence, and enrichment, coming to me from nature. The need for a fuller dialogue with nature appeared a transfer of the objective world to the subjective world of a flat canvas. I still study this to the best of my abilities. This is why, after I graduated from the institute, I went into teaching. I learn by teaching, I discover by offering and, seeing living results in the work of my students, I rejoice. A reason exists.

Realism is an expression of the essence of a thing. This is inherent in every genre and view of art, and it is the most complex and labor-intensive form of artwork, because it expresses the entirety of a world view: I am not alone, but rather a part of something larger. The path of figurative art can be traced to long ago, from stone-age images of animals drawn with the irreproachable, exact characteristic of individual form. In this day and age one sees inside the picture's flatness...it exists in real three-dimensional space, but in a picture's two dimensions, it is brought out conditionally; flatness doesn't allow for the presentation of depth (nearer or farther).

I bring up Rembrandt and Surikov as two of the respected masters. V. Surikov is an exemplar of the pedagogical practice of P. P. Chistyakov, whom I admire highly. He, unfortunately, did not leave behind a complete theoretical work of his methodology and goals of education, but excerpted ideas of this genius teacher and worker have served as a basis for the Realist School in twentieth century Russia. Sadly, a formal attitude to fine understanding and practice lead to the emasculating or, vulgarly, castration of thought in studying, and what remains is just an unfortunate likeness to science, to culture's general state of crisis.

But time passes, times change, and a person, if he wishes to be, must remain an image of his century.