Michael Cheval (born Mikhail Khokhlachev, Russian: Михаил Хохлачев; 1966, in Kotelnikovo, Russia, Soviet Union) is a contemporary artist specializing in Absurdist paintings, drawings and portraits. He is the co-founder of Cheval Fine Art Inc. and currently resides in New Jersey, United States. His work has been exhibited regularly in galleries across the United States and Europe.
Michael Cheval was born in 1966 in Kotelnikovo, a small town in southern Russia.
When Cheval's family moved to Germany[which?] in 1980, the new environment made a impression on him. During that period he also pursued other artistic pursuits, composing songs, playing in band and writing poetry.
In 1986, he moved to Balkanabat, Turkmenistan and graduated from Ashgabad school of Fine Art in 1992. Absorbing Eastern philosophy and the character of Central Asia, he began working as an independent professional artist, shaping his style and direction. He also collaborated with several theaters and publishing houses in the Ashgabad and Balkanabat, creating stage sets, costumes and illustrating books.
In 1990 Cheval held his first exhibition in Turkmenistan's State Museum of Fine Art, a event that showed appreciation from the region's artist community.
In 1993, he moved to Moscow, Russia, and worked as an independent artist and illustrator for various publishing houses, including the book-publishing house "Planeta".
With his immigration to New York City in 1997, a new age began for the artist. He returned to the Western culture that inspired him, but now brought along his own experience, philosophy and vision.
Acclaim for his art grew quickly and in 1998 he became a member of the prestigious New York's National Arts Club
Since 2009 Cheval has collaborated with the writer, philosopher and poet Boris Glikman, who has written short stories, fables and poems to accompany Cheval's paintings. In 2011 their collaboration "Local Call/The mePhone" was published in U Magazine. Cheval and Glikman are also considering collaborating on postcards and an art album with accompanying poems and stories.
In 2011, commissioned by Gina Lollobrigida, he completed a full body, official portrait of her.
His works are held in State Museum Of Fine Art, Ashgabad, Turkmenistan, in Museum of Fine Art, Volgodonsk, Russia and in the private collections of Gina Lollobrigida, Ernst Fuchs and Ian Gillan.
Cheval's art is notable for its power, technical brilliance, subtlety, grandeur and the originality of its concepts.
Cheval compares his paintings to a puzzle whose code needs to be discovered; yet there may be more than one solution to the riddle and he invites the audience to provide their own unique interpretations of his art, through which new ideas and a higher level of understanding of the work is attained. Cheval says: “ The spectator should have aspiration to understand the world I present, and thereby expand his horizons and his consciousness. I'm always happy when I see that a viewer understands me, when they have the desire to play my game”(7) (8).
Amongst the influences on Cheval's art are the Russian artists of the 19th-20th centuries, such as Pavel Fedotov, Vasily Perov, Vasily Surikov and Viktor Vasnetsov, the artists of the Italian Renaissance painting and the Dutch artists of the 16th-17th centuries, in particular Vermeer and Gerard ter Borch.
The greatest influence that helped him define his style came from the two Surrealists of the 20th century, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, although he sees his style as distinct from surrealism, describing it as Absurdism. According to his definition, absurdism is an inverted side of reality, a reverse side of logic that does not emerge from the dreams of surrealists or the realm of the subconsciousness. Rather, it is a game of imagination, where all ties are carefully chosen to construct a literary plot. Cheval says: "Absurdity, like any other genre, has its own rules. But it implies everything that is outlying of common rules and boundaries. "Absurdism" is an attempt to understand our life the way it truly is. Without propaganda, ideology, politics, and imposed tastes. Life in its pure state is beautiful, full of logic and meaning. But combined with the above, it is absurd, illogical. The majority of people became accustomed to such life and they do not notice this. That is why it is useful, once in a while, to turn everything upside down, in order to wake them."
Cheval identifies an aesthetic connection between his style and Samuel Beckett's and Eugène Ionesco’s Theatre of the Absurd, as well as Peter Greenaway’s, Luis Buñuel's and Tarsem Singh's films.
He cites his passion for literature and poetry as contributing to the visual vocabulary and symbolism of his art. He also describes the experience he had gained from being a musician and a writer as an essential factor in the realization of his goals in the painting field.
Critical and Public Response
Every one of Cheval's paintings is well received.
- 2000. National Arts Club Exhibition Committee Award
- 2009. Chosen as The Best of Worldwide Oil Artists by the "Best of Worldwide Artists" Volume 1 Book Series
- Winner of the First Prize of “Palm Art Award”, awarded by Palm Art Award Jury and Art Domain Gallery (Leipzig)
- Cheval, Michael (2004). Lullabies. InterArt Gallery. 96 pages full colored, art album 12" x 9,5"
- Cheval, Michael (2007). Nature of Absurdity. InterArt Gallery. 128 pages full colored, art album 12" x 9,5"
- Who's Who in Visual Art, Vol. DE 2010-2011 ISBN 978-3-9813474-1-8 Search this book on .
- Dreamscape 2009 Publisher: Imaginary Editions ISBN 9789490668020 Search this book on .
- Dreamscapes 2010 Publisher: Imaginary Editions ISBN 9789490668020 Search this book on .
- Imaginaire III: Contemporary Magic Realism, 2010. Publisher: Fantasmus-Art Aps ISBN 8799214784 Search this book on .
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