Boris Tyomkin: Bio


I was born in Moscow in 1970. My first experience with art came from my grandfather, Ilya Tyomkin. He studied at the Paris Academy before the Russian Revolution. His landscapes and portraits were the first paintings that I saw and it was not until much later that I realized what a deep impact they made on me. Unfortunately, he died before I turned one, so I only know him through the paintings that he left behind.

My family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1980. Due to difficult times, my parents stressed financial independence. So when in my fourth year of UCLA, I decided to stop pursuing a medical career and rented my first art studio, it caused quite a commotion.

I worked independently for two years in Los Angeles, painting large scale symbolist figurative compositions, still lives and portraits. Without having real formal training, I felt the need to deepen my technical knowledge. Art history and the work of the classics have interested me from an early age, so I was overjoyed when in 1994 I met Leonid Steele, a Soviet, classically trained artist.

I spent almost four years studying with Steele, who trained at the Repin Academy in Leningrad. Needless to say, I received plenty of technical instruction during those years. Steel augmented my love for the classics. But more importantly, he was a direct descendant of the Russian school of painting formed at the last half of the nineteenth century. I have already been admiring the work of the artists of this period and they are still influential for me today.
From 1998, I worked independently in Santa Cruz, California. I became an integral part of the art community of the Bay Area and participated in many shows at galleries, in places like Carmel, Santa Cruz and San Francisco and museums, such as the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz and the Triton Museum in Santa Clara. This move has proved to be an extremely rich experience intellectually and artistically. The nature around Santa Cruz has led me to pursue landscape painting, a form that I barely began exploring in Los Angeles. During the eleven years that I spent in Santa Cruz, I was able to contemplate art and life deeply. I became acquainted with many classic works of literature, psychology and philosophy, which greatly influence my world view and my painting.

In 2011, I got my MFA from the New York Academy of Art, a figurative school that still emphasizes tradition. Since that time I have been living and working in New York City where I have been showing my paintings and teaching.

My recent paintings have to do with spectacle, reality versus illusion and hiding ones face behind a mask. Sometimes I use the theme of the Commedia del Arte and at others the Rococo masquerade motif. My work points toward a theatricality of life and especially the contemporary art world. I am interested in theater because it accentuates the kaleidoscope of persona that are flowing through each human being and dramatizes the intrigue that takes places in relationships between people.