CNS: What are the similarities and differences between traditional Chinese painting and Russian, or maybe Western, painting in terms of ideas and techniques? In what way do we influence each other concerning the art of painting?
Yegorov: There are many differences between European painting and traditional Chinese painting. For example, in the attitude of describing time, there are some dramatic plots in European painting, while traditional Chinese painting is more reserved.
My favorite ancient Chinese painters, Fan Kuan and Guo Xi, presented four-dimensional space in their work.
Russian painting was much earlier influenced by Chinese painting art. For example, Palekhsky in Russia, a center for artists to create, was influenced by Chinese painting in the 19th century, and more Chinese artistic elements were added to the works. Another example is the well-known matryoshka dolls, which are also inspired by traditional Chinese art.
In the 1950s and 60s, China’s best artists learned painting in the Soviet Union. When they returned, they combined the Soviet style with Chinese ideas to teach more artists. As for modern Chinese and Russian paintings, they have become part of world art, as they not only learn from each other but have more national characteristics.
CNS: China and Russia are both countries with a long history and unique artistic aesthetic. There are also differences in artists’ self-awareness and creative ideas. How can art be integrated and developed under such different ways of thinking?
Yegorov: I have gained a basic understanding of the thoughts of the Chinese Taoist philosopher Laozi and Confucius through reading books in the Russian version. Confucianism and Taoism have influenced my thoughts more directly, giving me a deeper understanding of nature and the world. Chinese philosophy profoundly influences the world.
Chinese and Russian classical paintings have made great contributions to the world. Russian artists such as [Andrei] Rublev, [Ivan] Kramskoy, and [Kazimir] Malevich not only created Russian style but also enriched the art with the qualities of irony and inspiration. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian avant-garde was also a breakthrough in artistic thought.
The integration and development between Russian and Chinese painting have a broader prospect. I know many Russians who learn Chinese artistic techniques and philosophical ideas. I also study Chinese calligraphy and sketch with Chinese artists, often applying these techniques and philosophies in my own work. I believe that more cultural exchanges between Russian and Chinese artists and exhibitions will open a new chapter for world art. Through modern art, a new generation of artists has found new ways of expression and, more important, redefined human identity in the modern world.
The future development of art should be more diversified. In addition to the legacy of classical painting, more modern elements should be added. For example, we can find electronic devices like computers and mobile phones in contemporary artworks, and people’s diets, clothing and even personality will be reflected in the works. But if we blindly pursue originality, it will be too impetuous. Tradition is the foundation, wisdom, and historical memory accumulated over thousands of years of human civilization. To better integrate and develop tradition and originality in promoting human civilization, we need more artists to explore together. Especially in today’s consumption-oriented life, we should not slow down artistic progress, which is also the theme of my exhibition today.