Igor Tulipanov is a Russian-American painter born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1939. Since May 1979, he has lived and worked in the United States. Igor is married to Elena Tulipanov, also a painter. He employs Surrealist imagery in his meticulous illusionistic paintings, incorporating stylistic elements from Leonardo da Vinci, Hieronymus Bosch, and Jan van Eyck. These paintings are pictorial retracings of the artist's subconscious and show characteristics of what Freud called "dream work," including the existence of contrary elements side by side, the condensation of two or more objects or images, and the use of objects that have symbolic value.
Igor Tulipanov is influenced by and sometimes incorporates whole scenes from Hieronymus Bosch in his paintings. The symbols Tulipanov uses, various statues of pagan gods, spectacles, books, tears, eggs, and mirrors pass from painting to painting, but each symbol's meaning changes depending on the painting. What remains always is the incredible detail, the logic in his compositions, the precision of his tiny brush strokes, and his infatuation with the world and its mysteries. Sometimes, it takes a year to finish a painting, sometimes even longer. Igor Tulipanov's purpose is to create a world harmonious and complicated in its simplicity, a world that exists in his imagination. His paintings are exhibited in private collections and museums in the U.S.A., Russia, Japan, Argentina, and other countries.
Igor's father, Vissarion Sergeyevich Tulipanov, was killed in 1941 during World War II. Tulipanov's grandfather was a General in the White Army. Vissarion Tulipanov served in the same regiment with the famous Russian poet Nikolai Gumilev. The Tulipanov family lived in Tsarskoe Selo, a former residence of the Russian imperial family. The poetess Anna Akhmatova resided in the same house as the Tulipanovs. Akhmatova was a close friend of Valeria Sreznevskaya, a great-aunt of Igor Tulipanov. These circumstances resulted in the meeting of Akhmatova and Gumilev in Tulipanovs' house. Igor's grandfather was killed in September 1914, shortly after World War I began.
Igor Tulipanov started to paint in his early childhood. He was a student at M. Gorohova's paint shop. He studied at Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy, St. Petersburg, for a year. Later, he was enrolled at St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute for four years. After that, Igor studied at the Repin State Academic Institute of Painting Sculpture and Architecture, St. Petersburg. He did not graduate from these institutions.
In 1959, Igor Tulipanov became a student of Nikolai Akimov, an artist, critic, stage director, and teacher. It was under his guidance that Igor Tulipanov received his art education. In 1964, Tulipanov graduated from Ostrovsky St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy. After graduation, Tulipanov started a career as a production designer. He used to work at the theaters of Moscow and St. Petersburg until 1968. Igor's early exhibitions usually provoked scandals, early terminations, and scathing publications in the Soviet mass media. Nikolai Akimov had to protect his students in these cases.
Igor Tulipanov works with both oil and acrylic and also does black and colored ink point drawings and watercolor, and with colored pencil, which is perhaps his favorite medium.
Igor Tulipanov chooses to use colored pencils for many of his monumental works such as the twenty large panels of The Magnificent 47 Series, his Double Self-Portrait that he did for the United Nations contest, and his mammoth Apocalypse of Perestroika painting.
Tulipanov usually works directly on canvas or paper without preparatory sketches. He is able to conceive of the whole composition from the outset and then go about depicting it entirely. He works when listening to music or looking at visual stimuli. This ability to perceive mistakes enables Tulipvanov to create his compositions without making many errors while doing so. His innate sense of order and harmony enables him to take disparate forms and objects and find the key to combining them with a perfect balance in his paintings.