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Michael Cheval, 1966 | Absurdist painter

Michael Cheval, born Mikhail Khokhlachev / Михаил Хохлачев 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 is internationally acclaimed and has been exhibited regularly in galleries across the United States and Europe.
Michael Cheval was born in Kotelnikovo, a small town in southern Russia.

Growing up in an artistic family, his love of drawing was encouraged from early childhood by his father, Mikhail Khokhlachev, a self-taught artist and by his grandfather, Yuri Lipov, a professional artist and sculptor. His ability developed quickly and by three years old, he could already draw complex compositions.
When Cheval's family moved to Germany in 1980, the new environment made a great and indelible impression on the young artist. During that period he also pursued other artistic pursuits, composing songs, playing in a rock' n' roll band and writing poetry.
In 1986, he moved to Balkanabat, Turkmenistan and graduated from Ashgabat 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 Ashgabat and Balkanabat, creating stage sets, costumes and illustrating books.

In 1990 Cheval held his first personal exhibition in Turkmenistan's State Museum of Fine Art, a significant event that showed high 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 famous book-publishing house "Planeta".
With his immigration to New York City, United States in 1997, a new epoch began for the artist. He returned to the Western culture that inspired him in his youth, 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”.

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. | © Wikipedia

Michael Cheval è nato a Kotelnikovo, una piccola città a sud della Russia. È cresciuto in mezzo a pittori, pennelli, tele e cavalletti. Suo nonno, un artista e scultore di professione, ha inculcato l'amore di Michael per il disegno fin dalla più tenera età. A tre anni poteva già disegnare composizioni con complesse e multiple figure, illustrando le sue fantasie ed impressioni.
Nel 1980, Michael e la sua famiglia si trasferirono in Germania. Questo nuovo luogo fece una grande impressione sul giovane artista.
I musei e i castelli, le vie antiche e i meravigliosi paesaggi del sud della Germania definirono in modo permanente i gusti e le predilezioni di Michael. Sempre interessato alla storia e alla letteratura, Michael fu assorbito anche dalla musica. Mise su una band con cui si dedicò al rock 'n' roll per anni. Compose canzoni e scrisse poesie.
Dopo il diploma e aver servito l'esercito sovietico, Michael si recò a Nebit-Dag, una città del Turkmenistan nel mezzo del deserto Kara-Kum, vicino al confine iraniano.

Influenzato dalla filosofia orientale e dalle caratteristiche dell'Asia centrale, cominciò a la sua attività di artista professionista indipendente, volgendo il suo stile in una direzione surrealista.
Michael ha collaborato con diversi teatri e case editrici di Nebit-Dag e Ashgabad.
Nel 1992 si diplomò presso l'Accademia di Belle Arti di Ashgabad. Nel 1990, Michael ha avuto la sua primo mostra personale nel Museo Nazionale di Belle Arti del Turkmenistan.
Ciò fu importante per un artista di 24 anni, perché trovò grande apprezzamento presso la comunità artistica della repubblica. Nel 1994, Michael si diresse in Russia e lavorò a Mosca come artista indipendente e illustratore per varie case editrici, inclusa la famosa Planeta.
La sua decisione d'immigrare nel 1997 negli USA diede inizio a una nuova epoca per l'artista. Era ritornata da quella cultura occidentale che lo aveva fortemente ispirato in gioventù, ma ora aveva portato con sé la propria esperienza, la sua filosofia e la visione.
Nel 1998 divenne membro del prestigioso New York’s National Arts Club, dove nel 2000 si distinse con il Exhibition Committee Award all'esposizione annuale del club.
Dal 1998 Michael espone regolarmente in varie gallerie di New York. Dal 2002 è un membro della Society for Art of Imagination (London, UK) e partecipa alle esposizioni annuali europee promosse dall'associazione.

Nel 2003 Michael è stato accettato alla famosa esposizione Brave Destiny, che si è tenuta al Williamsburg Art and Historical Center di Brooklyn. Tra i partecipanti c'erano anche noti artisti come H. R.Giger ed Ernst Fuchs. Dal 2001, Michael espone all' International Show, Art Expo, che si tiene annualmente nel Jacob K.Javits Convention Center a New York.
Nel 2006 i lavori di Michael sono stati accettati all'esposizione Feast of Imagination, presso il H.R. Giger Museum Gallery in Svizzera.
Nel 2008 è stato accettato come partecipante alla mostra Dreamscape 2009 ad Amsterdam e i suoi lavori sono stati pubblicati nel catalogo di Dreamscape, tra i cinquanta più famosi artisti surreali nel mondo.

Nel 2009 Michael Cheval è stato scelto come Best Of Worldwide Oil Artist dal Best Of Worldwide Artists Volume I Book Series (Kennedy Publishing, USA).
Il primo libro dedicato alle opere di Michael, Lullabies, è stato pubblicato nel 2003, in collaborazione con la Interart Gallery. Nel 2007 ha pubblicato il suo secondo libro, Nature of Absurdity, che ha definito il suo unico stile e la sua visione. L'assurdo è il punto di partenza delle sue creazioni. Michael identifica la sua arte col teatro dell'assurdo di Becket e Ionesco e con i film di Greenaway e Buñuel.