Arriving to America with only a quarter in his pocket, fine arts gallery owner and artist Vladimir Kush is the definition of the American dream. The Kush Fine Art galleries display his own work in Maui, Hawaii, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, which he informs, “is still the number one gallery in The Forum Shops,” and his most recent opening of Kush Fine Art in Laguna Beach, Calif. Kush has acquired a remarkable amount of knowledge on realizing success even when hope seems bleak through the practice of growing the imagination beyond typical limitations.
An assortment of sculpture pieces and paintings displayed in the Kush Fine Art gallery
Upon arrival to the United States from his country of origin, Russia, Kush was homeless for a week but never lost vision of his goals pertaining to the success of his artwork. From no home to multiple homes throughout the country and from a single quarter to millions of dollars, this self-made victor has ample buyers, charges premium prices for his outstanding works and continues to carry out his life's mission to push beyond perceived boundaries and inspire others to do the same. He reaps the fruits of his lifelong labor refining his artistic skills and style to become the artistic mogul that he is today.
Q: When did your interest in art arise?
A: I grew up in a family of artistic values…I was drawing [by age] four. I went to art school [at] six years old. The career was prewritten. I was professionally trained at The Art Institute in Moscow and I left right after that because…I wanted to chase the American dream.
Q: What has been the biggest hardship in your artistic career?
A: I moved into this country with [nothing]—25 cents in my pocket. I flew into LAX and was homeless for a week doing portraits in Santa Monica. If you keep the faith and keep working hard, anything is possible.
If you work hard and you're worth something then there will be opportunities so I left [Moscow] for the opportunity for artistic talent….Hardships at the beginning were tremendous hence I had no place to stay. Being in the art world you are not guaranteed anything; there is a certain unpredictability
Q: When did it all start to turn around for you?
A: ‘98 was a pivotal point in my career when metaphorical realism was found as my style…I did a series of artwork [including] “Purse,” “Candle” and “Music of the Woods.” That’s when a whole dynamic in the sales had changed.
That style became very successful because when people [view my art] they recognize the thoughts, dreams and ideas they used to have but could never express themselves. Children have a very expansive imagination due to the fact that the logical and emotional side is much wider. When we grow up that bridge becomes more narrow.
The imaginative nature of Vladimir Kush's artwork fills the Kush Fine Art gallery
We become more logical and reasonable. We always want to go back to that child, the inner child. That's why people visit the gallery—[to reignite the imagination from] when they were a child.
Q: Can you expand more on the objective of your art?
A: What I do in my artwork is try to approach major things such as love, time and perception of space, which are hard to determine otherwise say scientifically or through description. The only way to approach those things and to understand them is through metaphors. Even though many people know metaphors to be part of the linguistic realm, I made metaphors a method of visual expression; I think it is even more powerful.
Metaphorical realism…it’s realistic in how I render things but it's metaphorical in concept. Metaphor according to Aristotle, ‘is an intuitive perception of a similarity in dissimilar things.’ “Winged Bridges” is described as the construction of the bridge connecting us to unrelated mountains––connecting [what] seems to be completely disconnected.
"Winged Bridges" located center on the back wall demonstrate Kush's metaphor
Q: Can you share the metaphorical implications of “Ocean Roar” and your inspiration?
A: It is a perfect example of the metaphor that we are the human spirit. Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick, [touches on the idea that] the ocean has a soul in it, its own soul. So humans, just as a pack of lions, can be quiet or sleepy or they can be outraged.
I experienced in Africa lions laying almost like a rock, as soon as they see a weaker buffalo walk behind a pack they jump up immediately. [This] reflects the soul of the human and its many different stages and the stages of the ocean.
"Ocean Roar" by Vladimir Kush of Kush Fine Arts
Q: Your artwork can be so intricate and detailed. In one painting there may be hundreds of different subjects at varying scales. There is always something new to discover or find within some of your work. How did you establish that element of discovery?
A: Metaphor can relate to different parts of our lives, that's why there are so many different objects. I create something like a compilation of those ideas and paintings from the past.
The array of artworks by Vladimir Kush displayed in Kush Fine Art gallery
[Works including] “Matrix of Love” and “Human Way” tell the whole story and incorporate it into one bigger story. The descriptions for my art are written by my father Oleg Kush. For those we have 10-20 pages of text to accompany them.
We also publish books; I am the illustrator and my father [writes] the text. We have more than 10 titles already published. They are not just for children or teenagers but for adults as well because they are more about fables rather than fairytales. We won a bunch of awards for this.
Q: What is your artistic process from the inspiration of the idea to the finished piece hanging in the gallery or on the buyer's wall?
A: An idea may be sitting somewhere in the subconscious mind for a while until it shapes up in black and white drawing as a little sketch and becomes more deliberate. That cooking is invisible. Comparable to the butterfly cycle, something is developing in the cocoon; [the caterpillar] doesn’t know that until the butterfly wings appear.
The creative process [at that point] is undetectable to humans, not even known to myself. Once I can almost envision the result––only at that time can I start to paint––when I visualize the result. The actual result could be sometimes better than my imagination could portray it, sometimes it exceeds it and sometimes not. [Usually the outcome is] pretty much close to what I visualized. Those ideas already exist in some form of black and white drawing.
Photography by: Courtesy of Kush Fine Art