“Graffiti is no longer the main component of my art and life, but it was the bright spark that ignited the fire of my creativity, which burns to this day.”
Zmogk: From Graffiti to Semi-Abstract Paintings
Konstantin Danilov, who is also known by his artistic name “Zmogk“, is a Russian-born artist hailing from Moscow, born in 1979 and currently residing in Athens, Greece. Zmogk’s artistic vision is dedicated to the creation of semi-abstract paintings that delve into the intricate interplay between colours, shapes, and emotions.
Zmogk’s artistic journey began in his early childhood, and in his teenage years, he briefly studied the fundamentals of academic drawing. However, he soon realized that his passion lay in drawing and painting unique ideas that came from his personal inspiration. In the late 1990s, Zmogk’s artistic focus shifted towards graffiti art, and he wholeheartedly immersed himself in that world, finding numerous like-minded individuals and forging new friendships.
Despite his extensive background in street art, Zmogk’s interests gradually evolved towards canvas and muralism, becoming his main focus over the last decade. For the past ten years, Zmogk has been dedicated to working in his studio located in Moscow, but he and his family have recently relocated to Greece, where they now call home.
Although graffiti art is no longer Zmogk’s primary artistic medium, it was the initial spark that ignited his passion for creativity, a flame that still burns within him to this day. Zmogk acknowledges that his past experiences have provided him with a strong foundation upon which he built his career as an artist years ago. He remains grateful for his past, as it continues to fuel his ongoing artistic pursuits.
Photo Credit: Zoe Volkova
The Themes and Ideas Behind Zmogk’s Thought-Provoking Art
During his childhood and adolescence, Zmogk did not necessarily have a conscious aspiration to become an artist; rather, his natural ability to draw well from an early age was a clear indicator of his talent. However, the notion that being an artist could be a viable profession was not yet established in his mind at that time. Growing up, Zmogk was taught to pursue a stable, lucrative career, possibly utilizing his artistic skills.
It wasn’t until he discovered graffiti that Zmogk’s creative potential began to truly flourish. For a while, he struggled to decide between being a freelance or office-based designer, or pursuing his passion for street art. Ultimately, Zmogk’s desire for independence and autonomy won out, and he found his calling in the world of street art. His success as a street artist served to bolster his confidence and opened up new opportunities within the art world. The experience was a true inspiration.
Zmogk recognizes the importance of maintaining a sense of curiosity and openness to the world as a means of nurturing creativity. To aspiring artists, he recommends paying attention to new mediums and technologies within the art world as a way to expand their skills and ideas.
Creating the Ideal Working Environment: Zmogk’s Vision
Zmogk creates art that prompts viewers to contemplate its meaning and significance. The themes and ideas explored in the artist’s work are informed by personal observations of psycho-emotional states and reflections on external phenomena occurring in the world. Zmogk’s subject matter ranges from global issues such as environmental problems and the recent pandemic to more personal events, experiences, and emotions, such as the birth of the artist’s daughter and travel experiences.
Zmogk’s creative process involves flashes of inspiration, some of which manifest as clear images while others are more elusive. Once an idea takes root, the artist sketches it intuitively, using basic shapes and colors to build a composition. The colors used in Zmogk’s work are associated with specific emotions, which are dominant in the subject of the painting. These colors and their arrangement often carry additional meanings within the artwork.
Although Zmogk’s work appears abstract at first glance, it often contains figurative elements such as human profiles, landscapes, and skulls, which serve as a reference to the discourse of death. The artist has long been preoccupied with the subject of death and immortality, exploring themes such as fear of death, acceptance of its inevitability, and the desire for immortality. As an artist, Zmogk sees his work as a form of immortality, as it will continue to exist after he is gone.
Zmogk believes that advances in technology, medicine, biotechnology, genetics, and 3D printing in medicine will inevitably lead to an increase in life expectancy and possibly even immortality. The artist considers the implications of these developments on social institutions and the human understanding of death, questioning whether these changes will be for the better or not.
Zmogk’s work is thought-provoking and imbued with deep personal and societal insights. Through the artist’s intuitive creative process and use of color and form, viewers are invited to engage with the artwork and contemplate its significance.
Zmogk’s Future Aspirations: Interactive Art and Large-Format Works
Zmogk has a clear vision of his ideal working environment. He envisions a spacious area of approximately 150 square meters with high ceilings, large windows that let in ample natural light, and pristine white walls. Proper zoning is also of paramount importance to him, as it would allow him to engage in various creative activities such as painting, sculpture/ceramics, graphics on paper, and the storage of prints. Additionally, he desires an office and chill-out area that is connected to the showroom to accommodate visitors and friends. Zmogk even contemplates dividing the space into two levels for greater functionality. It is noteworthy that Zmogk emphasizes the significance of a good sound system in his creative process, as music plays a vital role in inspiring his artistic approach.
Currently, Zmogk is preparing for three solo exhibitions, and he dedicates himself wholeheartedly to their realization. Nonetheless, he does not stop dreaming and setting new challenges for himself. Among his aspirations is the creation of a series of large-format title works, measuring approximately 2.5×5 meters, which he envisions presenting to the public in a renowned gallery. Moreover, Zmogk is captivated by the potential of interactive art that employs neural networks and artificial intelligence. He imagines creating works that can read the psycho-emotional state of viewers or groups and generate visual images, uniquely stylized according to his authorial voice, based on surrounding sound environments such as speech timbre or music.