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A showcase of international artistic excellence

August 11, 2010|By Terri Martin
(Raul Roa )

Artists showing works in the international exhibition at Glendale's Silvana Gallery of Fine Art and Crafts have produced contemporary pieces using a wide range of media — sculptures in wood, bronze, clay or copper, paintings in oil, acrylic, or watercolor and handcrafted jewelry. They are expertly presented by gallery director and founder Silvana Ambar.

Many artists in this exhibition are of Russian or Armenian descent. Before the 1980s, Russian artists were employed by the state and their art was restricted, conformed to a rubric, that did not include self-expression or iconography. During the 1980s Mikhail Gorbachev's radical reformation included an attitude of respect for personal dignity. Freedom to develop a gallery system allowed commodification of Russian art and exposure to Western art.

These opportunities were seminal to the development of artists from that region, freeing them to shape their own styles, blending formal techniques taught in the Soviet style, with their own intrinsic creativity, resulting in some of the highest-quality artwork the world offers. The exhibition at the Silvana Gallery represents more than a cluster of great artists. It is evidence of progress, of artistic expansion.

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Savva, a Moscow-born artist, was trained in some of the finest art schools in Russia. The Moscow Art School and the Stroganov Institute of Art both contributed to his early painting and drawing education. The first application for his formal training was in animation and illustration. His ability was recognized and led to the United States and a career in development design for television and feature film projects.

He contributed to several Nickelodeon animated productions and ultimately became art director on the second Rugrats film, "Rugrats in Paris." Savva never subordinated his fine arts during his 12 years in animation.

Vestiges of his experience painting backgrounds for Disney are evident in his piece titled "Venice," an antique bronze and acrylic painting on canvas. The painting is large at 40 by 66 inches. Architectural elements, arches and balustrades, are layered together with graphic lightening bolts, giving action and energy to an otherwise classical architectural rendering. Blacks, browns and bronzes bring gravity to a technique that could be described as postmodern Art Deco. It is a unique style and a serious marriage between animation and fine art.

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