Stepanovich Safronov

Russia • born in 1956

Biography and information

Nikas (Nikolai) Safronov (8 April 1956, Ulyanovsk) is Soviet, then Russian artist, a famous portrait painter and public figure. He is an academician of the Academy of Arts of Russia, professor of the Ulyanovsk State University, Baku and Ulyanovsk’s Citizen of Honour. In 2013, Nikas Safronov was awarded the title of the Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, and in 2017, the People’s Artist of Dagestan.

The painter’s enormous contribution to the development of art and charity, as well as his active social participation, were noted by many orders and medals of Russia and other countries. His name is always on the pages of the newspapers and gossip sheets, which in no way prevents Safronov from continuing his bright career.

Features of Nikas Safronov’s art: his art education is a solid foundation on which the artist's talent is based. Skilfully combining the techniques inherent in various styles, Nikas creates the canvases on the amazing subjects, which attract the attention of art critics and art connoisseurs. In one of his interviews, the artist admitted that, being a person easily carried away as well as losing interest, he preferred to change techniques without focusing on any of them. Excellent visual memory, mastery of pencil, watercolour and oil paints, as well as rich imagination are the secret of the work of Nikas Safronov, who gave the world his unusual paintings.

In search of his own style, the artist invented the original technique, which Safronov called “dream vision”. It consists in “fogging” the main image, as if it were behind a thin veil of morning haze. Being a connoisseur of the works by symbolists and expressionists, the painter transfers elusive memories of his dreams to the canvas, combining them with real characters and places. To achieve the “dream vision” effect, Nikas imposes extremely thin paint layers on the picture until he gets the desired result.

Famous paintings of Nikas Safronov: “Dreams of Italy” (sold in 2011 for 106 thousand dollars at the Sotheby’s auction), “Dream of Moscow”, “Crucifixion of Christ”, “Night”, “Morning”, “God of Oil”, “Angel of the Temple”, portraits of Sophia Loren, Philipp Kirkorov, Mikhail Kozakov, Ringo Starr, Queen Elizabeth II and other famous personalities.
Exhibitions of the works by this outrageous artist are regularly held in Russia and other countries, which invariably pack the halls with audience. Safronov presented many portraits to their prototypes, and today these works hold pride of place in the private collections.

Nikas Safronov's paintings: the mysterious magic of art
The future artist spent his childhood in a typical large family of a Soviet soldier. Little Nikolai spent time with his four brothers and a sister; he carried his affection for them and his parents through his whole life. Subsequently, stepping on his creative path, he took his nickname Nikas in memory of his mother, who had Finnish and Lithuanian roots.
Nikas Safronov became interested in drawing in his school years. Dreaming of travels to distant lands and incredible adventures, he quite successfully redrew illustrations from books. After school, Nikolai entered the Odessa Marine and studied there as a navigator for one year. And then something unusual happened...

In 1973, the Odeыsa Nautical School celebrated its 75th anniversary, and on the occasion of the event, the school managers decided to reward the cadets who excelled in their studies. The Tovarishch barque, with specially selected crew of the best marine students on board, sailed for the American coast, the city of Baltimore. Nikas Safronov was among the lucky cadets.
On its way to the destination point, the barque got into a strong storm, which lasted almost a day. When the raging ocean has calmed down and the students were able to relax, the exhausted Nikolai fell into a deep sleep, more like a swoon. According to Safronov, he dreamed of a gallery in which his paintings were exhibited, which he had not yet painted in reality. Next to him, he found an old man who moved from one canvas to another and commented on what he saw. Sometimes Nicholas argued with the old man, sometimes agreed, but at some point his mysterious interlocutor disappeared. Looking up, Nikas Safronov saw him soar up, and realized that he had the great Leonardo da Vinci in front of him. Nikas asked him “Where are you going?”, and the painting genius silently threw Nikas a large ball glowing from the inside directly into his hands. At that moment, Safronov woke up with a clear understanding that he was an artist.

This dream was a turning point in Nicholai’s life. After this voyage, he left the nautical school and entered the Rostov Art College. There, the future painter carefully studied the secrets of artistry, paying particular attention to the works of Leonardo – the artistic, philosophical, and scientific paintings. Thanks to the great Florentine, Nikas Safronov managed to find his own drawing style, unlike any other.

Later, he worked in the Rostov Youth Theatre, served in the military, studied at Vilnius Art Institute, and all this time Nikas did not stop improving his skills. Safronov painted his first paintings in a memorable 1973. In 1978, he was awarded a solo exhibition, which brought him the glory of a portrait painter, surrealist and a bold experimenter.
If you carefully look at the photos of Nikas Safronov’s paintings, you will notice that at some point the canvas seems to draw the viewer into itself, making him/her the subject of a painting. This effect is created by those special tricks that Nikas uses during his work. Light translucent fog shreds, bright accents, many small and carefully drawn details make the observer peer into the image and create the illusion of presence. As the artist himself admits, after some hours of enthusiastic work, he finds himself involved in the picture, as if he enters it.

Nothing is impossible for the artist Nikas Safronov: he boldly combines the recognizable objects and surrealistic images to create something new. A vivid example of such work is his painting “The Crucifixion of Christ”: the cross with the Saviour is placed against the backdrop of nightly Manhattan. The familiar silhouettes of skyscrapers with luminous windows seem to hide the sins of their inhabitants behind a fragile human figure, and distant thunderclouds are cut through with the reflection of the setting sun.
Today, not only the artist’s personal exhibitions visitors have the opportunity to see the paintings of Nikas Safronov, but also the users of our art portal. Arthive gathered a large collection of Safronov’s paintings with descriptions for you, and we hope that you will enjoy spending your time with the amazing canvases of the contemporary genius.