Vladimir Kush is a Russian-born surrealist painter and sculptor, although he prefers to refer to his art as metaphorical realism.
He was born in 1965 in Moscow and first began drawing and showing artistic ability at the age of three or four. He would often sit on his father's lap and finish drawings his father started. He started attending an art school at the age of seven in Russia. The first half of his day was spent in regular school, meeting requirements, and the second half of the day was spent in art classes until 9pm. He entered the Moscow Art Institute at age 17, and when he went for his mandatory two years of military service at 18 was soon set to painting murals and canvases rather than regular infantry duties.
The artists who he says have influenced his style since his first experience in art school are Monet, Botticelli, Bosch, van Gogh, Dürer, Schinkel, Vermeer, and Dali to name a few. Bored with the Cézanne-style painting his art school concentrated on, Kush switched to surreal images as a teenager and painted his first surreal picture at the age of 14. He experimented with different styles of impressionism after seeing a book of Salvador Dalí's work in the late 1980s but it didn't appeal because shape was lost in the style. Strongly influenced by his father (a scientist), he believes that realistic paintings show the artist's professional skill and draw the viewer in so that they accept the impossible images enough to see the metaphors in them and explore the different layers of meaning.
In 1987, he began to sell his paintings and exhibiting them within the Union of Artists. Around the same time he was invited to paint a series of portraits for the U.S. Embassy staff however he eventually had to curtail his work on the portraits after the KGB became suspicious of his involvement with Americans because of books he had read during his time with the military.
In 1990 he showed works in Germany together with two other Russian artists; he visited Los Angeles for a show and stayed in the United States.
In 1991 he allowed his dream to become reality. For a while he was able to rent a small home garage in Los Angeles in which to paint, but couldn't find anywhere to display them. He earned his money by drawing people on the pier in Santa Monica. Eventually he spent his savings on a ticket to Hawaii and slept on the beach in Santa Monica until the flight left days later.
His art was first noticed by the Asian continent and then spread into America. In 2001 he opened his first gallery, Kush Fine Art in Lahaina, Hawaii. He also now has another Kush Fine Art Gallery in Laguna Beach, California.