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Dear Friend,


As you know , copyright violations are happing almost to all successful artists, musicians, movies and even clothing designers. I'm also not protected from this and I have to act in order to protect my intellectual property as much as possible. In order to avoid theft of my original paintings I list only photographs of giclees on my website. This photograph could be a little different from the original painting in color, contrast or very minor details. The original painting is way more colorful and enlightened than the photographs online. Also, all of us have different screens, graphic cards, resolution, and aspect ratio set up. Some people still use old CRT monitors. Taking all this into consideration can also explain why the color and  contrast look slightly different on the photograph. I cannot accept complains or returns from customers that say that the painting look a little different from the photograph in color, brightness or contrast. Each original oil painting is the sole work of my hands and it comes with proper certification signed by me. My art is very colorful and its not easy to show it on the monitor in its real beauty for 100%.

Thank you very much for your understanding,
Best Regards,
Leonid Afremov
  • Mood: Wow!
  • Listening to: miles Davis
  • Eating: Apples with honey
  • Drinking: Wine
Please send me your comments. I love taking constructive criticism. You can leave the comments here on deviant art or send them to my email vitebskart@yahoo.com, or facebook

Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?i…

Twitter: twitter.com/afremovart

Afremov Online community afremovart.ning.com/

My gallery: www.afremov.com

My you tube video gallery where you can see me paint pieces from beginning to end:

www.youtube.com/user/afremovga… I have paintings that

I'm giving away at this link www.afremov.com/auction_detail…

Truly Your,
Leonid Afremov
  • Mood: Wow!
  • Listening to: miles Davis
  • Eating: Apples with honey
  • Drinking: Wine
Dear Friend,

I'm turning to my fans and followers of my art for advice. I don't know what to do about all the copyright violations happening with my art. As of today there are more then 200 listings of supposedly my art on ebay, although I closed my ebay account along time ago and don't sell anything on ebay anymore.  I see a lot of people stealing my images and selling fake giclees on ebay. I even saw people selling counterfit originals with a fake signature and certificate. Only a little fraction of these listings is my real art that people bought from me in the past and now resell.  

When I report a such a listing on ebay, they remove it. However ebay is a big company and isn't able to follow everything. As the matter of fact, they don't really care. I don't know how to protect myself from such horrible theft. Please tell me what can I do. i know i need to hire a lawyer and sue some companies but I don't know what kind of lawyer handles such matters. Many people buy supposedly my paintings and giclees from various website and think its from me. They end up buying a fake or a counter-fit or an authorized giclee with a fake signature and then go complain to me about the quality like they bought the items on www.afremov.com from me. I don't know what to do about this, please advice.

The only places where you can buy my real originals from me are www.afremov.com. www.etsy.com and www.artfire.com. if you  buy an original from anywhere else , please ask me to authenticate it first  because someone could be reselling an artwork they bought from me in the past. You can buy certified giclees only from www.qart.com and their partner websites. They are the only authorized giclee retailer of my art. and sometimes they have originals that I sent them

Best Regards,
LeonidAfremov
  • Mood: Anger
  • Listening to: Pink floyd
  • Eating: tacos
  • Drinking: tequila
No man is an island, least of all an artist. Alberts Einstein said that if he looked great it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants. I myself feel that, whatever success has come my way, it is impossible to overestimate the debt I own to those artists who came bofore me.
I was born in Vitebsk, a City of about 300 000, located in what is now known as the country of Belarus, a former Soviet Republic of Bellorussia. Vitebsk is an ancient Eastern Eropian city and one of the oldest churches in Uerope, a twelth century building, was standing there before it was finally demolished by the Soiviets in the Nikita Khruschev era. This atrocity makes me think of Taliban demolishing Budda statutes in Afganistan in 2001. Vitebsk has been at the crossroads of Russia, Litvuania and Poland and this gave that little provintial place a somewhat cosmopolitan outlook, as much as it can exist in Eastern Europe.
Historically Vitebsk has also been a very Jewish city. It was located within the so called Pale of Settlement, the western part of the Russian Emprire where Jews were allowed to settle. As of today, most Jews fled after the collapse of the USSR, including my family. It is within the Jewish community of Vitebsk that the artistic traditon, that put the city on the map with the name of Mark Shagall, took place.
Here I have to mention the patriarch, the founding father of the Vitebsk school, the teacher of Mark Shagal and many others, the great Yehuda Pen. It was he who openned the first private arts school on Russia and, while prsonal artistic fame evaded him, he realized himself through he school where I myself claim a place. Yehuda met a tragic end in 1937, being murdered in his own house under mysterious circumstances. It was claimed that his own relatives did him in, to get whatever money Shagall was sending him. Later on many claimed that the murder was in fact arranged by the Soviet State Security servises, as a part of the great purge of the late 1930ties.
I have studied the work of Yehuda Pen and his students at the Vitebsk Musium of Art. I was so impressed by Yehuda’s influence that I chose it a topic of my graduating thesis at the Vitebsk State Pedagogical Institute in mid seventies. Two weeks before graduation the Dean of the Instutute received a note from Minck, the capital of the former Soviet Republic of Belorussia, now the independent county of Belorus, stating that the artistic heritage of Yehuda Pen is not a proper subject for the public and students of art to be conserned with. I was simultaneuosly flabergasted and terrified. I had no idea that the Party has time to consern itself with a graduating thesis of an art student dedicated to an obscure and long dead painter. In addition, I had absolutely no time to complete an alternative thesis and had no idea what its topic could have been.
I was saved by the providence. The Dean, a family friend, had very bad feet and a relative of main was a well known shoe maker. The Dean got a pair of extra soft custom made shoes and got an opportunity to write a thesis on a not too challenging subject of classroom decorating in public schools, which I thankfully completed.
Much water has gone under the bridge since then. After leaving Vitebsk in I have spent my life in Israel and the US, but like with Mark Shagall, it has always remained in my heart and I remain a proud disciple of its school of art. My life school might have been a school of hard knocks but it made me an artist and the man I am, and without my roots there would have been no Afremov.
Afremov’ advice on how to protect your art from being pirated.



In my last two posts I covered how an aspiring artist with a limited budjet can get noticed and how much he or she should charge for the art.Today I will instruct you on hadling the byproduct of the artistic success, art pirocy.

This, nowdays, is an issue not only for brand name manufacturers and rock musicians, but for painters as well. As I mentioned in my previous posts, in order to be a sucessful artist today, you have to be on the net and you have to sell on the net. This makes you vulnerable to pirates who will download your art, reproduse it and try to sell it for peanuts.

Let me tell you what they were doing to me. In certain countries thereare whole art manufacturing plants dedicated to copyright thievery. They have an industrial convey belt being set up where a painting, not a pair of conterfeit jeans, comes out as a finished product in the end. They hire skillful highly trained artists and at the slave wage that they pay can reproduce an oil painting to be sold…for a dollar and still make a profit. And, I hate to admit it, often they are so good I cannot tell their fakes from my own pieces!

t is being done in the countries not covered by the international copyright conventions; while you still can hire a local council and sue, your chances of an injuction stopping the pirates, leave alone damage recovery, are virtualy nill.

What to do? Do no dispair. The pirates have an Ahilleses hill and that is the distribution end of their operation. They cannot sell art at the impoverished local market and will have to find a way to come to the West with their product. And that is when you can fight back. The number of outlets that the parates will have to go to is limited: eBay,amazon and... And, unlike certain third world countries’ governments, their management is actually very artist-friendly, as fas as the copiright protection is concerned. For instance, on eBay specifically you have to subscribe to the Vero program to fight the pirates efectively.

What it all biols down to is that pirates are pests. They can never be completely eliminated, but if you do a diligent pest control, then you reach the point when you do not have to worry about them anymore and can concentrate on creating your art in peace
Afremov advice: how much to charge for your art.
In my privious blog post I have discussed how a novice artist can break into the art market with a miminal initial investment. Today I will share my experience as to how much to charge once you are in business.
Let’s say you have spent several weeks on an original oil painting. In galleries you have seen things on display that do not measure up to your own work, yet are displayed at extravagant prices. Can you ask for that much or more, just because, in your judgement, your own work is better?  Not necessarily. A gallery owner can afford to wait infefinetely till at least some of his stock sells and for a stariving artist this may not be an option. I speak from experience, having myself been a starving artist with a wife and two kids in Israel. Plus, I still remember being offered about a hundred dollars for paintings that took me weeks to create and that were subsequebtly displayed at thousand of dollars by art dealers who paid me this little.
So how far up can you reasonably go? Let the market help you make that decision. Put you work on eBay asking what you think is the highest reasonable price you can charge and also using the best offer alternative buying option. I usually set the initial price at about $3000-$5000. Sometimes this is what someone actually pays right away. On other ocassions, it’s the best offer that will determine how much I will get paid. Dismiss without hesitation ridiculously low “best” offers under a hundred dollars. But out of ten offers you’ll get a pretty good idea as to what the highest possible price you can actually get. In my case, I usually settle for $1000-$2000. Even if it took you a week of full time effort to create this piece, you can get by on this money. If the market determines that most you can get is only several hundred dollars, better little than nothing. Under a hundred dollars, you might as well keep it.
As you sell more and more and can actually make a living out of your art sales, you will start to work faster and your profit margin will increase: nothing succeds like success.And, paradoxically, you will be able to charge a higher price for what it took less effort to create. Once again, I am speaking from experience, being the third best selling artist on the internet world wide.
www.afremov.com
After I have achieved a certain measure of commercial success, young artists  started to ask me how to stop being a starving artist, quit Starbacks or Barnes and Noble, and break into the world where one can actually make a decent living selling one’s art.
At the risk of increasing the competition, I am gonna break it all down. What I am about to describe has worked for me, who came to the US as an immigrant barely speaking English, and will work for any talented novice who is willing to work hard not only on perfecting, but also on promoting, his or her art.
As I mentioned elsewhere, galleries are not a way to get you ahead of the game, unfortunately. Think about it, if even a hundred people show for an opening, it’s smashing success publicity wise, but how many sales would that generate? Art gallery owners can afford to wait indefinitely until something of their stock actually sells, can you?
Thankfully, now there is a way to get your artistic message out there, skipping the middlemen almost entirely. If you are on Deviantart.com, it’s a good start, but additional exposure is absolutely necessary. Here is a list of highly recommended websites that you absolute must have your artwork on, from my private stash:www.artbyus.com,ebay.com, esty.com,fineartamerica.com
In addition, I recommend setting up your own e-commerce website www.homestead.com. You can get one for about $50 a month from the Homestead company.
Now some prospective buyers may be initially reluctant to make a commitment to purchase online a painting they do not actually see. You can assuage their doubts with a friendly no questions asked return policy. In addition, display enlarged details of your painting to give the buyer a better idea of the whole.  
A painting may take an awful amount of time to produce, yet an unknown artist may not yet demand a price that would make it worthwhile. What to do? Go giclee, which is too say make a limited production run of high quality prints, usually about 25. Once you have the equipment, they are inexpensive to produce and together would make up a fee that would fair for an original painting.
To make a giclee, first you would need a camera. Nowadays I use   $40 000 Hasleblut camera, but for a beginner a $650 Canon, giving about 8-10 mega pics resolution, will do. This camera will allow you to make giclee prints up to 30’ by 40’ in size.
The most important thing in making a print quality photo is lighting. While I use a very expensive light equipment now, when I started I made do with sunlight. Another thing to remember is to use glossy canvass for your prints, not the cheaper regular kind. Believe me, the difference is huge.
For a printer I recommend Epson, and you may purchase a used one for under $2000. Do not be penny wise and dollar stupid and buy only Epson ink cartridges.
I would not have good luck but for misfortune. Not being satisfied with the quality of giclee produced on my initial bargain basement equipment set, I discovered a unique method to improve the print by taking the brush and paint to it.
Our method of giclee production is so unique that I wander if it’s a giclee that we are actually making.In the beginning, a print is made on a special high quality canvas. However, where the job of our competitors ends, our just begins.
This print is then painted over with oil paint using the same colors as the original using an art brush and a pallet knife giving the artwork a painting like texture. After the paint has dried up, the backside of the print is painted in a similar manner. Then protective epoxy coating is applied. In the end, an Afremov giclee is barely distigushable from the original and will last just as long.
We do not make more then 25 giclee from the original and none of them is comepletely a like, each is unique.
An Afremov giclee is not simply a print, but a work of art in its own right, which has its own collector’s value, and each comes with an authenticity certificate.
Hence a multimillion dollar online operation can be started with an under $3000 initial budget. I know it can be done because I have done it. I wish all those who would try to follow my steps the best of luck. I anything I wrote is not clear enough or if you have additional questions, do not hesitate to ask
Yours,
Leonid.

www.afremov.com
The Artist and the Dealer: the Artist and the Devil.

Now not all of you agreed with my previous post about art and evil. Nevertheless, today I’m going forward and shall spare no venom in denouncing the most depicable creature ever produced by the Western Civilization, the art dealer.
In the old days, before the French Revolution, the artist depended on the feudal aristicracy for the patronage that guaranteed his survival and well being. Whatever you say, those guys had some class! I say, bring back the old days when I think of the cheap, decietful bastards who usurped the nobles’ place since then and to whom the poor artist has to go as a suplicant with an outstretched hand…. Oh shame, oh pain, oh mysery!
In theory, the art dealer is just like any other interpreneur, connecting the producer, the artist, and the consumer, providing a necessary service to the public. Well, if you belive that theory I have a bridge to sell you, somewhere in Brooklyn.The closest analogy to gallery owners would be the sweat shop owners somewhere in China and the Filipines. Or drug dealers, for this matter. That is not to say that these three occupations are mutually exclusive, by the way.
Let me tell you a story.When I was living in Israel one interprising scoundrel hired artists to paint whatever he wished for $7 dollars an hour to be displayed in his gallery.He rented a huge ware house and started a real “factory” Andy Warhol would have been proud of. He attempted to pay artists less than wall painers make. Well, artists proved to be poor galley slaves to keep his gallery afloat and, after numerous labor desputes with police participation, the whole thing sank to the bottom.
In Israel an art dealer will offer you $100 for a painting that he expects to sell for $10 000 and you have to be selling heroin to get a higher mark up. Here in the US, they give you nothing upfront, nothing at all, and they can afford to wait till eventually something of what they display eventually sells. They do not have to tell you for how much either. I had a story where a dealer who told me he sold my painting for $300 actually sold it for $3000, I kid you not. Another dealer, right here in Pomapano beach, demanded $50 000 towards organizing my exhibition and the police is still looking for him and the money.
The relationship between the artist and the art dealer can be compared to indentive servitude or a domestic violence situation. I think it is not inconseivable that one day a disgrantled artist will go postal in an art gallery.
But it’s not going to be me. Yesterday was the fifths anniversary of my online auction website, Afremov.com that freed me from having to make Faustian bargains with the art devils, thank God for the net!

www.afremov.com
I was thinking lately if art, as a manifestation of human creativity and spirit is inherently benign or can it be either good or evil. What about the art of the evil regimes, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy? Did art try to adjust itself to the reality of evil or did it actively participate in evil’sproliferation? What was “Leni Riefenstahl’s truiph of the Will” documentary ?  A  brilliant work of art, a means of fascist propaganda or both?

And I am not talking just about the past by the way. An American journalist Mark Ames called  a nineties blockbuster movie  “ Starship troopers”, directed by Paul Verhoeven and  based on a brilliant science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, a work of “pure fascist art”. Not a work depicting a fascist militarized society, but a work fascist itself. It does not nesesearly mean that the director, Paul Verhoeven, is a fascist and admirer of Hitler and Mussolini, but rather that he taped into a cult of strengh, power, and violence that has not left Western Civilization with the defeat of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy by the end of of World War Two.
What do you guys think, can art be a weapon of mass destruction?


Please comment here :afremovart.ning.com/forum/topi…
Dear friends!

I have been thinking lately about the role of art in the ever changing fabric of social life. It seems to me that a painter or a sculptor were more prominent and socially significant in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries than they are today. There can be several reasons for this: the competition from other media, particularly cinema, TV, radio. I think sports also rose as very important part of mass entertainment and public life.Sports seem to command more passion than art does.
There are only 24 hours in a day and these days people simply do not have enough time to go to a museum or a gallery, anymore than they have time to read a book.

The internet is a wonderful means for proliferation of information about and dissemination of classical art but most people go into the cyber space for different reasons.There is just so much to do these days in the real world and cyber space, may be people need art less and less?
Besides, within the realm of creative expression itself the older forms are giving way to pop music and photoshop. High culture seem to being squeezed by popular culture, especially its newer forms, like computer games.

So what is in store for the old-fashioned painter, like myself, in the future? Will my likes be gradually marginalized? Is there a limit to the marginalization? Or may be I am too pessimistic and misinterpret reality?

I'd like to know your opinions. This social network combines people of all continents, social backgrounds and walks of life so we have a unique opportunity to compare views from different perspectives...

Please comment here :
afremovart.ning.com/forum/topi…
Every now and then cinematography produces an iconic image that transfers to posters, VHS and DVD covers, t-shorts,and, yes, paintings.Think Tony Montana, portrayed by Al Pacino, coming out the balcony with a grenade launcher fitted M-16 : "Meet my little friend!". In New York they used to sell photo prints of that "Scarface" scene on street corners. Now there is a whole "Scarface" industry, with toys, ball caps and even blankets.The movie produced images that seem to have somewhat of a life of their own.

Another New York street photo hawk favorite , besides Marlon Brando holding a kitten as the Godfather in the great Frances Ford Capola film, is Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese's' "Taxi Driver"playing with his guns in front of the mirror: "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?". Once you've seen the crazed De Niro' character role playing the confrontation with the pimp portrayed by Harvey Keitel, you'd never forget it and will immediately catch someone trying to imitate De Niro, doing the "You talkin' to me" scene.

Perhaps worldwide "Godfather Part I" and "Scarface" have a better face recognition, no pan intended, then ''"Taxi Driver" does. Yet think of the power of the movie that, in a way, almost cost the most powerful man on earth, the US President Ronald Reagan his life. For the younger generation I'll remind that a penniless and semi-employed security guard, John Hinckley, tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan and seriously wounded the President, all trying to impress Jody Foster, the actress who portrayed a teenage prostitute Travis Bickle was obsessed about. In the movie Travis Bickle also was preparing a political assassination.

Now Reagan, at least in the US, is credited with bringing down the Soviet Union. That means that if Hinckley would have succeeded, then the Soviet Union, the world's second superpower, might have survived longer, perhaps, it would have existed today. I'll leave alone the political issue of whether it would have been a good or a bad thing. Rather I will draw your attention on the art's ability to force life to imitate it, to paraphrase Oscar Wild.

In my view, Taxi Driver, along with "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" is amongst the very bets motion pictures Hollywood ever produced. Robert De Niro is an actor of a genius and its been a pleasure for me to participate in the life of his creation by portraying in a painting his character in a simply brilliant movie.

YOU CAN SEE THIS PAINTING AT :afremovart.ning.com/profiles/b…

PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT
Every now and then cinematography produces an iconic image that transfers to posters, VHS and DVD covers, t-shorts,and, yes, paintings.Think Tony Montana, portrayed by Al Pacino, coming out the balcony with a grenade launcher fitted M-16 : "Meet my little friend!". In New York they used to sell photo prints of that "Scarface" scene on street corners. Now there is a whole "Scarface" industry, with toys, ball caps and even blankets.The movie produced images that seem to have somewhat of a life of their own.

Another New York street photo hawk favorite , besides Marlon Brando holding a kitten as the Godfather in the great Frances Ford Capola film, is Robert De Niro, as Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese's' "Taxi Driver"playing with his guns in front of the mirror: "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?". Once you've seen the crazed De Niro' character role playing the confrontation with the pimp portrayed by Harvey Keitel, you'd never forget it and will immediately catch someone trying to imitate De Niro, doing the "You talkin' to me" scene.

Perhaps worldwide "Godfather Part I" and "Scarface" have a better face recognition, no pan intended, then ''"Taxi Driver" does. Yet think of the power of the movie that, in a way, almost cost the most powerful man on earth, the US President Ronald Reagan his life. For the younger generation I'll remind that a penniless and semi-employed security guard, John Hinckley, tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan and seriously wounded the President, all trying to impress Jody Foster, the actress who portrayed a teenage prostitute Travis Bickle was obsessed about. In the movie Travis Bickle also was preparing a political assassination.

Now Reagan, at least in the US, is credited with bringing down the Soviet Union. That means that if Hinckley would have succeeded, then the Soviet Union, the world's second superpower, might have survived longer, perhaps, it would have existed today. I'll leave alone the political issue of whether it would have been a good or a bad thing. Rather I will draw your attention on the art's ability to force life to imitate it, to paraphrase Oscar Wild.

In my view, Taxi Driver, along with "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" is amongst the very bets motion pictures Hollywood ever produced. Robert De Niro is an actor of a genius and its been a pleasure for me to participate in the life of his creation by portraying in a painting his character in a simply brilliant movie.
To all my fans and readers of my blog! I am deeply touched by your responses to my blog entries. That makes me want to continue blogging and I want to show my gratitude through my art. I hear sometimes that some starving deviant artists find my work beyond their reach. Let’s   remedy the situation.
From 1/08/2010-till 1/11/2010, only (!)you can go to my website, www.Afremov.com, and get $100 gift certificate toward any  giclee or oil painting you wish with your free registration. If the painting is less than a hundred, you can see if you can get several for free.
I hope you’ll enjoy my art as much as I have enjoyed your thoughtful commentary and constructive criticism.
Your,
Leonid Afremov
After thirty years of hard work the name of Leonid Afremov has  finally achieved some recognition in the Art World.  But, these days, the fame of a painter can only go this far. Maybe it’s a good thing that no living painter can be revered by the media and the public like a rock star, a movie star,? I think of the subject of my previous post, the incredibly talented and tragic Michael Jackson, as well as other subjects of my paintings, Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Hendrix. James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Janice Joplin, Elvis Presley,   Jim Morison, River Phoenix  , Chris Farley, lately Brittany Murphy…The list of pop celebrities who died too young and made beautiful corpses is endless. My son Boris, a budding reggae musician himself, knows far more than I do and I am of two minds as how much success a father should wish his son in this field of popular music (think Bob Marley!).
We do not hear much, if anything, about a painter, a poet, a writer, a sculptor ending up like that. Even the wildest of the wild, the writer and journalist Hunter Thompson, blew his brains out with his beloved magnum 357 at the respectable age of 68, even as few have tried so hard as he to get to the finish line of life sooner.
May be fame is like electrical voltage, which when high enough can kill. The higher the fame in a given creative field, the higher is the chance of its practitioner expiring tragically and in an untimely manner.
Think about it: no one would produce the   American Idol as a poetry slam and the starving and ignored poets are safe from ending up like Kurt Cobain. If Kurt were a less successful rock star or a very successful   TV script writer, maybe he’d still be with us?
In addition, different groups of famous people seem to be able to handle fame and its pitfalls differently. Sports stars and politicians arguably are just as famous, if not more, than pop stars. Yet only in Japan would disgraced politician end tragically by jumping from a skyscraper. Richard Nixon, arguably the most disgraced politician of them all, and a confirmed alcoholic, went on living past ninety like a turtle. And even in Japan you have to reach a respectable middle age to become a politician important enough to be worthy of a suicidal downturn. Athletes achieve fame at a young age, much like pop stars, yet even the controversial disgraced boxer Michael Tyson is still with us and is doing reasonably well. Jake Lamotta, portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the movie “Raging Bull”, had a few bumps on his road, but is still with us! Athletes, and not only boxers, can take life’s punches, and so can the politicians.
So here is a formula for an untimely tragic death by fame: be in the “high voltage field” of , get hit by the voltage of fame while young, have low resistance. Paradoxically, the very vulnerability that makes one appealing to the public may turn out to be literally deadly for its possessor. I myself am content to remain an uncontroversial, if a lesser known figure and, like another artist from Vitebsk, Mark Chagall, be with my family for the longest time possible.
An ex-Soviet Artist observes sex coming to Mother  Russia at last.
Or at least “Sex in the City”. A dubbed version is being showed on Russian TV so you can hear Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker talk  in Russian, which is hilarious! By the way, Sam is my favorite of the “Sex and the City” crew and I adore Kim Cattrall l ever since “Porky’s”, a hilarious  comedy.
But what is even more fun, “Sex and the City” spawned a Russian clone, “The Balzac Age or all men are bastards.” The name of the Russian sitcom refers to the French writer, Honore  De Balzac, and the men trouble of his aging heroines. The show was on the air between 2003 and 2007 and was much beloved by millions of its female fans, even as it was derided by some for being a cheap, silly and pathetic imitation of the original. I myself watch the show much like a cultural anthropologist would observe a distant tribe undergoing a rapid social change, so distant I feel from the New Russia.
The show, which follows the lives of four over thirty  Muscovite women, is so substantially different from the original that the licensing issues did not even come into play. But as completely different as the plot lines are, not so the characters themselves. The narrator, Vera, is a budding  Carrie Bradshaw   , a wise observer providing insightful commentary on the human comedy unraveling before us, even as she is a Doctor Melfi, a therapist counseling women with personal lives as troubled as her own. A former Russian pop star Lana Dens portrays a Samantha-style sexual warrior Alla, who is also a successful criminal defense attorney. Two other girlfriends, Julia and Sonia, do not work. They reflect a different social reality. Julia is being supported by her wealthy father, while Sonia lives of the inheritance she got from her two much older deceased husbands. Sonia also agrees to have sex for money with a superrich man with somewhat peculiar sexual fantasies,  which somehow turn out to fit her own like a glove. And she does this while continuing  her hunt for a wealthy man over sixty.
I have written enough to realize that we are not in Kansas anymore, not even in New York. The Russian Mr. Bigs turn out to be bribe taking Army generals, corrupt municipal officials and other unsavory characters belonging on the set of the Sopranos more than “Sex and the City.” But the most interesting thing about the Russian clone is that at home it’s interpreted as a feminist show. If bitching about eligible men shortage is feminism, then it sure is. But I think the most poignant is the theme of individual success in a market economy that is being equaled with feminism, and  not only in Russia. In one episode an American trained  motivational speaker advises Alla to dump her girlfriends because they are a burden which a  career- driven woman should avoid. Success is measured relatively to the performance of others and for someone to succeed,  others must fail.

One of the actresses on the set volunteered to  a visiting American filmmaker that the fact that Russian grandmothers no longer want to help their daughters to raise their grandchildren and prefer to get paid as babysitters  elsewhere must be a sure sign that feminism finally came to Russia. No, the American retorted, it’s capitalism. And here you have the answer, my friends. Today’s feminism is an invitation to join the dogs eats dog world of corporate capitalism on its own terms, perhaps make it more female friendly, but certainly not to question its core ideological foundations. Feminism co-opted by
Now, as you can imagine, I have been asked to paint Barack Obama many, many times. So far, I have been reluctant to follow up on the project for two reasons: first, I do not do politicians.  Second, I have my doubts whether an exception is warranted in this particular case.
To explain the first, let me tell you a little story. When I was living in Israel friends forced me to paint a portrait of a mayor of a little Israeli town who thought a great deal of himself.  As I handed my work to the beaming recipient he exclaimed: “When I am the prime minister of Israel you will brag to your friends that I have your work!” Not missing a beat, I retorted “When I am a world renowned artist and you are still a mayor here, you can brag to your friends that you have my work!” I have had a strong antipathy to politicians and their hypocrisy and arrogance ever since.
But, some may say, Obama is different. He is a man that inspired billions of people on this planet with the ideas of hope and change. As an artist, I am not inclined to underestimate the value of inspiration. However, if I want to get paid, I have to take my brush, paint and get the job done.  I expect, perhaps naively, no less than getting a job done from the public figures as well.
Is Obama a man that can deliver, can he get the job done? I had my doubts even during his electoral campaign. How could a candidate of the party running on the record of total disaster, John McCain, be even competitive against a candidate running on the record of relative prosperity of the Clinton years? If you ask me, if not for the banking disaster a few weeks before the election, McCain could have won. Obama ran a bleak, overly cautious campaign, always afraid to step too far, to take too much risk. No doubt his victory only made him interpret his luck as wisdom and dismiss the criticism of his indecisive strategy as baseless envy.
This makes me think of another president who came in the time of crises and upheaval with a message of renewal and change: Michael Gorbachev. Much like Obama, Gorbachev talked about the new era yet surrounded himself with the stalwarts of the status quo. Like Obama, Gorbachev thought of appeasing the opposition much more than of advancing the agenda of his own supporters.  Gorbachev was terrified of going too far too soon and was moving the chairs on the Titanic as the ship of the Soviet state was going under. Similarly, Bill Maher, commenting on Obama’s “audacity of hope” noticed the profound lack of audacity to back up the hope. Will “the change we can believe in” turn into a change you can believe in, if you do not expect too much? It seems for me, it already has. Harper’s magazine amply commented that Obama looks less and less like Roosevelt,  more and more like Hoover. overly cautious
What about you, the readers out there? May be I am too pessimistic? Would Obama, with all his contradictions, be a good artistic project regardless of his achievements or the lack thereof? Do let me know.
When I read the blog posts of my fans about a certain sence of captivation that my paintings induce in them, I often reflect on work of other artists whose techniques, style, art vision, and world views are so profoundly different from main:  Robert Williams, Frank Frazetta, Boris Valejo and Andy Warhol, amongst others. While I am a very conservative fellow  , a  family guy,  I do feel some commity with  the originality, drive, and the irresistable appeal of those guys, some of them quite wild and not only intellectually or artistically so. Their artwork has the power to glue the viewer’s attention that Shakira and Britney Spears get from paparazzi.
Robert Williams talks about the retinal delights of his work, about the needs of the eye to be stimulated much like any other sense, about his work being able to literary trap the viewer. I think there is something to it. Art can be intoxicating for those capable of apreciating it fully. Yes, one can get high or drunk on art as one can be carried away by a good champaign or a lovely woman. In fact, you can fall in love with a painting: I know I have.
And that goes not for visual art only. Music can captivate even more. I think some popular music to many people is a substitute for and/or augementing compaignion to their daily six packs or marijuana joints. In fact, some rock bands seem almost shamanic drug dealers to me, their wares really crack for the brain, nothing more and nothing less.
Yet when I listen to the classical music, or Steve Martin and Barbara Streisand, I think of the fine red wine that suppose to be good for your heart and your brain. That is what I modestly strive to be: perhaps not the priciest and best known label, but a faithful companion always standing on the shelf, always ready to enliven and brighten your day, whenever your eye chooses to attend to my painting.
Go east, old man: to Russia with Love.
Just yesterday I posted an entry on Michael Jackson and am delighted that it has not gone unnoticed: thanks to all of you who have responded and posted comments.  I have been thinking of the unparralel footprint that Michael left globally. While I am no Michael Jackson, my art has spread to many countries already and in a few days we are lunching a Russian website, Afremov.ru, at last.
Now, as you know, I have been born and raised in Vitebsk, the city of Candinsky and Mark Shagal, in a coutry that has been a part of Russia and the USSR and now is an independent state, Belorus. Candinsky and Shagal are still customary referred as Russian artists worldwide and a considerable part of Belorus’ population still consider themselves Russian and Belorus a part of Russia, even as the political process of unification with Russia has stalled due to the desputes over the oil pipline and a deep personal animosity between Vladimir Putin and Alexander Luckashenko, the Hugo Chaves of Belorus. While my personal roots and attachments to Vitebsk are very deep, I am profoundly a man of the Russian culture and Russian is the language spoken in my family, whether we live in Esrael or the US.
Since 1990, when I left the USSR, a canstelation of the brightest  Western pop stars has decended on Moscow: Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul McCartny, Whitney Houston (whose portrait I’ve painted, by the way), Beyonce Knowels, Britney Spears, and  Rihanna  is planning to go, last I heard. While I cannot possibly match their popularity and name recognition, I am more and more known by the art collecting crowd over there. And I have to tell you, these are very special customers. Some of them would pay $600 to get a giclee the next day. They live and drive fast and they play hard. I’ll be all to happy to add color to their lives, especially as so much of contemporary Russian art is so dark, gloomy and depressing, as if the artists deep their brushes in tears, not paint. While my roots are in there, it’s a Western artist that I am making a comeback.My art reflects a more sunny, joyful, and optimistic outlook on life. I hope that one day the reality of my former compatriotes will correspond to the feelings my artwork tries to evoke.
After the untimely departure of Michael Jackson this year, I was commissioned to make a painting of this legendary entertainer that for me and many other newcomers to the US represented America no less than the Statute of Liberty itself. Yes, for us in the former USSR  Michael Jackson was America: bright, intoxicating, irresistible, energetic  to the excess, challenging, impossible to ignore, and dangerously alluring. Everything about Michael was bigger than life and as colorful as life can be only in our dreams and Hollywood movies.
Then he somehow faded away  considerably from the public imagination as an artist if not as a private person, until his death forced everyone to realize what a mighty presence he was on the world scene. How many touched the world as globally as he had, and for so long? Not that many. Elvis, the Beatles, and I dare not put anyone else in line who permeated the popular culture to the  extent that Michael had.

As I was working on the painting, I could not help but reflect that as artists we are not altogether dissimilar, even as we worked in the totally different media and  even as human being I may well be his exact better adjusted yet modestly unremarkable opposite. My many fans write in their blogs about the intoxicating exuberance of color, the celebration  of life’s beauty and energy that they sense in and enjoy about my work. I feel that color and flavor  in Michael’s performance, and not only in his exotic and memorable stage attire, but the sound, that hypnotic beat you’ll never forget once you heard it. As my art is now going global, I ,as any other artist, may only hope to give joy and touch as many hearts as Michael has and continues touching whenever his music is played anywhere on the glob….
Meet Leonid Afremov, International Acclaimed Artist
Leonid Afremov is an artist who is making his mark by creating beautiful and elegant pieces that everyday people can afford. He does not want to sell his wares to millionaires who will lock them in vaults.



PR Log (Press Release) – May 18, 2009 – Hello Leonid, Why have you started Afremov.com?
I wanted people from all over the world that have always been interested in my paintings to be able to locate them on the internet. The website gives an opportunity for everyone to be able to purchase my collections through an online auction bid. This way it allows the person who is interested in my art to pay what they feel it’s worth.

Can you explain what makes your website different?
My online auction, which runs daily, allows people to make bids on what the feel the art is worth to them. They can pick and choose different pieces and make bids at whatever amount they want. It’s quite simple and the site is easy to understand which allows anyone to navigate through it.

What do you offer on the website?
I want to invite people into my soul. This is an opportunity to share my visions and interpretations of life with everyone. Each piece of art represents something genuine to me and I want others to experience as well.

How do you manage to put your pieces of work on the website very inexpensively?
I want people who enjoy my art to have a chance and own it themselves. I have gotten so many requests over the years for paintings, I thought now was a good time to help others put it in there homes. Now with the economy struggling, I wanted to make each piece very affordable to those who are interested in my work. That’s how we developed the bid auction for the site. This way if someone is interested they can pay whatever they can afford for my paintings.

Who would you like to see buy your art?
Anyone who shares the same feelings I do about it. I would like my work to inspire others or even help people recall similar moments in their lives. Each piece is unique to me and I believe many can relate to them.



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Leonid Afremov was born in city of Vitebsk, in 1955, the same town as Marc Chagall, the famous artist who also founded the Vitebsk Art School along with Malevich & Kandinsky. Leonid Afremov graduated from Vitebsk Art School in 1978 and is one of the elite members.

Words from Leonid Afremov:

Every artwork is the result of long painting process; every canvas is born during the creative search; every painting is full of my inner world. Each of my paintings brings different mood, colors and emotions. I love to express the beauty, harmony and spirit of this world in my paintings. My heart is completely open to art. Thus, I enjoy creating inspired and beautiful paintings from the bottom of my soul. Each of my artworks reflects my feelings, sensitivity, passion, and the music from my soul. True art is alive and inspired by humanity. I believe that art helps us to be free from aggression and depression.