When Vladimir Ganin was in college, he had a choice to make: art, music or kung fu. He knew he couldn’t give all three the attention they deserved, so he narrowed his studies down to just one topic. Today, he is recognized by President Xi Jinping as a foreign expert on art after living and teaching in Hunan Province for more than 10 years.
Ganin relocated from Russia to China in 2002, joining the staff at Hunan Institute of Science and Technology as a professor of drawing and painting. He lives in Yueyang with his wife, Anna, a professor of music at the same university, and their young son.
Ganin’s interest in China developed during childhood. When he was a boy, Ganin saw Chinese paintings and was amazed by the unfamiliar landscapes he saw, convinced that the artists must have wild imaginations. When he visited China for the first time in 2001, he realized those landscapes were real. Today, his work is on display in a gallery at the institute. His pieces are a mix of landscape paintings, still lives and humorous, thought-provoking pieces.
The combination of styles falls in line with the philosophy Ganin says he aims to evoke: yin and yang. Calling this concept a symbol of harmony, the 47-year-old artist and professor said he is always trying to find a balance of color, lines and more.
Many of his more avant-garde pieces focus on the themes of money, wealth and fame. Familiar faces like Brad Pitt, Bill Gates, King Charles and the Queen of England can be seen in his works like the”Evolution of Faith.” Another painting illustrates the eight basic ways to “catch a fish,” including creating your own corporation or intellectual property, or going into politics. Fish, a traditional Chinese symbol for riches and luck, are featured in a number of paintings as well.
Ganin says he began to notice the importance of feng shui to his Chinese audience at his 2012 solo exhibition–“Harmony.” A man came in and initially told Ganin he wanted to buy six paintings. The next day, he returned with a friend who was a feng shui master, and after following his advice, wound up only buying two.
Another technique Ganin uses is making parts of certain paintings look like prints, such as those depicting an American $100 bill or a Buddhist symbol. His paintings reflect some of his other interests, such as Chinese opera and the landscape and culture of Cambodia, which he has visited 10 times. He says the country is a great place to relax. “It has fishing, the sea, and cheap drinks,” he said with a laugh.
Ganin says he prefers to paint his more whimsical, humorous paintings – many of which are quite large – but must continue painting things like landscapes and still lives for his students’ sake. He also knows that his more realistic paintings will sell.
“I hope the fish will,” he said.
Ganin’s wife, Anna, shares her own artistic talents a few buildings over in the music department. She teaches students orchestral music and plays the violin both in and out of the university. She has performed in Europe and China, including at the Guangzhou Opera House.
“Our work gives us great pleasure, and that is very important,” she said.
After completing a three-to-four-year program of study, her students typically play in symphonies, continue on to another conservatory or become teachers themselves.
This article was published on China.org.cn on June 9, 2015. You can see the original post here.