A Conversation with Young Kalmyk Model and Artist Kirill Luzganov4 min read
Kirill Luzganov is an artist under twenty years old but already making a big impact in his hometown of Elista. Luzganov participated in Mu, the first contemporary Kalmyk art exhibition, showing three of his works. He’s also an accomplished model, with spreads in Elle Russia, as a face of his republic. Luzganov sits down with Lossi 36 to talk about his art practice, dark style, and recent modeling gigs.
Tell us where you are based and more about your art background.
I’m currently based in Elista. I graduated from art school in Kalmykia this year. I am now studying to be an interior designer. I will be moving to Moscow soon. Painting, and now modeling, are my artistic practices.
How did you get involved in the first contemporary art show, Mu?
This exhibition was the talk of Kalmykia for quite some time. Almost everyone who was involved in the arts scene in some way or another knew that there was an open call. Artists in the republic had seen the many ads on Instagram that the curators had put out. My teachers at art school recommended that I apply to be a part of the show. I applied right away and that’s how I came to be involved in Mu.
Bridge. 100×90 cm, oil on canvas
A lot of your paintings take on the traditional meaning of “scary” – dark colors, mysterious figures, ominous subjects. Why are you so interested in that topic?
The feeling of fear and creepiness in artwork has fascinated me since childhood. I really like the old style of classicism. At that time, those paintings were considered “scary” because of how realistic they were. So with my paintings, I try to scare the viewer as well.
Type of People 1. 50×60 cm, oil on canvas
When people outside of Kalmykia and Russia look at your art, what do you want them to take away?
It’s a great and profound question but honestly, my paintings aren’t supposed to make “sense”. It’s more art for art’s sake, like a landscape or still life. While creating, I don’t bother with the meaning of the images I make.
Coffee. 20×15 cm, oil on canvas
Not to press the issue… but can you talk about the cigarettes in this painting of yours? “Coffee” is one of the paintings that appeared in Mu.
There was no strong meaning in this image with cigarettes either. That morning I woke up with strong inspiration from the items around me, and decided to draw what was in front of my eyes. It was my coffee drink and cigarettes. I smoke and drink coffee daily, like all young people.
And like most young people, I’m often in a bad mood, hence my dark palette. The variety of my palette is always influenced by my mood. I don’t set out to limit myself in colors and color choice, but perhaps as I mature, I may try out a different palette. I’m sure my tastes will change.
Modeling from Elle Russia / @hornyoshi
You have been modeling and most recently showed up in a spread for Elle Russia. Congratulations! Tell us about that experience.
Recently, Elle Magazine invited me to model for a shoot for the cover. I was excited of course and didn’t want to overthink it. I agreed and it was a great experience. I had some amateur modeling experience before my shoot with Elle. It was my first very professional and public opportunity as a young model.
This project with Elle Russia, as you can see from the photos, was brought forth by an initiative to educate other Russians about Kalmyk life and our small republic. Most of the make-up artists, models, set designers, and photographers were also Kalmyk.
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You have modeled for the Amyrkhan brand. What motivated you to get involved with them?
This is another instance of Kalmyks representing Kalmyks in pop culture and media. In our republic, the Amyrkhan brand is up-and-coming. Almost all young Kalmyks recognize this label. There is almost always an inscription in Kalmyk on the clothes. This apparel represents the spirit of Kalmyk people in their designs, so I was pleased to model for this small brand.
What is next for you? Any upcoming art projects or shows, or modeling gigs?
Since I’m young, I will focus on school first. But I’m always getting up to creative projects. It’s kind of a secret… you’ll have to follow my Instagram to find out more!