Igor Melnikov - Fireflies

Igor Melnikov – Fireflies

“For me, these are not portraits of children, but portraits of human souls,” says Moscow-born artist Igor Melnikov. Each is a picture “of a soul immersed in itself, reticent, perplexed, searching for and preserving a hope. If you take the message of this portrait to your heart, it is a portrait of you.”

Since Melnikov moved to the United States in 1996, he has attracted growing international interest. In a new book on the artist published by the Downey Gallery of Santa Fe, Suzanne Deats eloquently explains why. “His art cuts to the quick, for it reveals the original truth that every adult carries within, however deeply buried beneath the incrustation of society and survival.” She observes, “These fragile children … are oneself, one’s ancestors, one’s unborn grandchildren.”

Melnikov notes, “I often find that my subjects are perceived incorrectly, as children’s faces that are meant to be merely touching.” Although he may base his pictures on children he knows, images from memories or dreams, or old photographs, he is after more than an evocation of personality or an ephemeral emotional effect. “The face of an adult is biography; the face of a child is metaphysics,” he says. “I don’t like poetic generalizations, particularly about my own work. But, if I can dare to qualify the subject that interests me most of all, it is this: the little, weak human beings coming into this huge, brutal, senseless world, and being unwanted, uninteresting, and unloved by anyone. Ultimately, the existential conflict is expressed most clearly as the awakening conscience of the little human being in the face of the cosmos.”