The timing was right for my husband and me to attend Arcadia Contemporary‘s Gallery Opening for their new Ukranian artist, Denis Sarazhin. This was the first I had heard of Sarazhin. After viewing the online catalog, I absolutely had to see his works and hopefully meet him in person.
At 6 PM on Saturday, December 16, 2017, my hubby and I followed SIRI’s instructions and took Coldwater Canyon Boulevard through Beverly Hills to Culver City, avoiding the 405 Freeway “parking lot”. The Trader Joe’s parking structure was cheap and easy as usual.
We strolled over to the gallery to find it busy but not unpleasantly crowded. I spotted a tall dark haired young man in jeans and a hoodie talking in what sounded like Russian, to a group of admiring people. (I later learned he was speaking in his native Ukrainian.) I asked the gallery assistant if that might be the artist. It was, indeed.
I wanted to talk with the artist right away, but my wise husband convinced me to view his works first so I would actually have something meaningful to discuss with him. The hubby was right. I’m pleased to share with you close-ups that I took of Denis Sarazhin’s work before we chatted with him.
When the group Sarazhin was talking to had thinned out, I took a deep breath and walked over to him. I was pleasantly surprised at how approachable and friendly he was. In fact, he was a little shy at first, but when I told him I was an art teacher, it put him at ease.
His English was not strong, so I kept the conversation simple and to the point. I learned we both share a passion for artists Sorolla, Zørn, and Sargent. When I mentioned that his works reminded me of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, he smiled and said he hears that a lot.
I complimented his use of cerulean blue and he beamed. He said he loves to use it. My husband said he didn’t know what Cerulean Blue was. Denis graciously pointed to the areas on paintings where I had seen it used to create beautiful complementary colors in shadows and highlights. (See the neck and various points on the portrait close-up, below.) That was so kind of Denis.
I then asked Denis if he used Burnt or Raw Umber for his base coats. He shared that he did, but sometimes used Cobalt Blue as well. I gleefully enjoyed this mini instruct from this master painter.
My hubby remembered to ask about the detailed designs we noticed on some of the paintings. Denis revealed that he uses a pen with Japanese ink to draw the designs, and then applied transparent layers of paint. Exquisite details!
Some of his paintings have a crisp outline around the subjects. We asked Denis how he got the idea for the outlines. He said he was just experimenting. I told him it really worked. He smiled.
Before we left to chat with the gallery owner, Steve Diamant, I posed one more question to Denis. Did he use a palette knife or brushes? He graciously shared that he mostly uses the brush with the palette knife for some of the backgrounds.
I thanked him for taking the time to talk with us and inquired if he teaches. He shyly said no because he doesn’t really pay attention to how he works. He did mention something about preparing to do a workshop in September next year. I gave him my email address and asked if he would kindly alert me when that would happen. I hope he remembers. It would be a treat to invite my art students to attend with me.
Overall, I found Denis to be a lovely genuine young man and dedicated artist. Throughout the evening, he conversed easily in his native Ukrainian with his colleagues and did his best in English with the rest of the guests. No attitude. Just humble gratitude.
We waited our turn to talk with Arcadia Contemporary owner, Steve Diamant. I congratulated him on an outstanding show and asked how he found Denis Sarazhin. Here’s Steve’s story:
“To relax before I go to sleep, I scroll through Instagram. One night, an image grabbed my attention. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if Egon Schiele had been reincarnated! I reached out to the artist and he responded right away. He’s very social media savvy.”
According to Steve, Denis was already aware of Arcadia Contemporary and the caliber of artists he represents. Steve requested a piece from Denis for the 2017 LA Art Show. “I could have sold it several times over. That’s when I knew he should have his own show,” said Steve.
This is why we love Steve. He holds the standards high for fine art and gets his artists to exceed their expectations. Our culture, his gallery and the artists win all around.
Missed the gallery opening? Don’t worry. The exhibition will be on display at Arcadia Contemporary in Culver City through December 31, 2017.
Don’t feel like battling the freeways? Here is the link to the complete online catalog. Be sure to check it out!
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