One to Watch

Funny Faces: Exploring an Artist’s Identity with Maxim Fomenko

In 2012, Russian artist Maxim Fomenko received his Masters in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, Germany. Inspired by Bacon, Hockney and Picasso, Fomenko employs vibrant color and loose, gestural strokes to create abstracted portraits of well-known figures. The addition of provocative forms to faces bring humor to this artist’s exploration of identity. His works have been exhibited across Europe, including The Other Art Fair Bristol. Fomenko’s paintings have been acquired by private individuals worldwide, and are held in the permanent collection of the Bavarian State.

What are the main topics that you are following in your work?

My work is about the artist himself, the artist of today and the past.

Themes such as beauty, death and paradise, with which the artist has dealt with thousands of years ago, are still relevant to me. But as a contemporary artist, I see it as my task to redefine and interpret the themes.

How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?

I think I was 3 or 4 years old when I made my first artistic attempts in my father’s studio (he was a sculptor). It all started there, I will never forget that time.

The appeal of it is the ability to implement and express my ideas and feelings.

How has your style and practice changed over the years?

I used to try a lot of different styles and techniques when I was still studying. I had the time to search my style and find my way. Currently, I am working as a successful professional artist for already several years.

Time changes and we do too.

Can you walk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just jump in? How long do you spend on one work? How do you know when it is finished?

It all starts with an idea in my head, then it takes a while for the idea to be mature. Only then do I start with the sketch and so on. I do not know how long I need for an image, it always varies, it depends on the idea. I think Gerhard Richter once said: “For me the work is only finished when I can not add anything to it and can not take anything away”. I can only underline that.

Who are your favorite artists and why?

First up is Picasso, then Matisse, Renoir, Malevich, Warhol. Besides the artists of the past, there are also the contemporary artists who are always inspiring me. Among them is the British artist David Hockney. His blooming colored pictures influenced the color of my pictures. Thanks to him, my pictures became brighter, more colorful and clearer.

What are your favorite experiences as an artist?

My greatest experience as an artist was when I visited the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, where one of my paintings (from my series of pictures dedicated to Picasso) was exhibited in a large, bright room next to Picasso’s real paintings.

About the Author

Monty Preston is the Assistant Curator at Saatchi Art. Need help finding art? Contact her via our free Art Advisory service at