Arsen Savadov is a noted Ukrainian conceptual artist of Armenian descent. He was born in 1962 in Kiev, to the family of Vladimir Savadov, a book illustrator, originally from Baku,Azerbaijan. He studied painting at the Shevchenko State Art School and is a graduate of the Kiev Art Institute.
A product of the late Soviet epoch of perestroika, Savadov almost singlehandedly began the contemporary art movement of the new Ukrainian state, engendering a local version of postmodernism built on the ruins of the Soviet Union out of the disintegrating method of Socialist Realism, a rigorous school of academic painting, and the carnival of communism’s ideological collapse.
While some contemporary thinkers are questioning if postmodernism is to blame for the ‘post-truth era’, Savadov reexamines the postmodernist tool of appropriation. If earlier it had been a method of capturing and reformatting objects and concepts by the artist, now such an approach only evokes ennui. Instead, Savadov’s play with borrowed material aims at the creation of a zone of relaxation and delight. “I do not want to be ironic anymore and there is nothing revolutionary in replication and artifice for me today, I simply swim in the ocean of images important for me personally and as an artist,” claims Savadov.
The thigh of Venus crowned with Napoleon’s bicorne hat, Mary Magdalene’s hand resting on Damien Hirst’s notorious skull smeared in paint, St. Sebastian pierced by darts and colored pencils—all these figments of the artist’s imagination are grounded in his knowledge of art history as well as his desire to imagine the Old Masters transferred into a contemporary dimension. Savadov believes the old oil on canvas medium to be a part of the collective unconsciousness, a mirage of beauty but with a functional twist. For the artist, oil painting appears as a meta- medium capable of making images and ideas freely float between painting, cinema and sculpture.
A versatile artist during the course of his career, Savadov has utilized techniques of installation, performance, and photography. Savadov splits his time between Kiev and New York City.