The Art of Olga Furman
I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where I spent my childhood years. The Soviet Union was ruled by Leonid Brezhnev at the time and the USSR called itself the most powerful country in the world. At age four, my parents left for the Polar Far North for jobs in the Soviet oil and gas industry. They left me with my grandmother, who lived in a town called Luga, which was famously called the “second worst city in Russia” by the great Russian poet Alexander S. Pushkin.
My childhood memories of the town were quite different. The town was situated in a beautiful natural setting consisting of a luscious pine forest and blue lakes covered in yellow water lilies with golden sandy shored. This was my first encounter with vivid colors and I immediately attempted to reproduce them on paper.
My grandmother would spoil me. I distinctly remember the smell of a new pack of crayons she bought me. I loved to color, and my grandma would always buy me coloring books. There were only two different coloring books available in the store. One had line drawings of dogs, and the other of all kinds of fish. I would outline and color them again and again.
At the age of seven I joined my family in the Far North . The colorful palette of Luga changed to the black grey and white of the arctic north. My parents weren’t really supportive of my art. Their plan was to train me as a piano teacher. They never denied my requests for art supplies however, and I was drawing and painting constantly. At school, kids noticed my love for doodling and made me the illustrator of the school newspaper. I really enjoyed doing this. Most of the drawings I made for the paper were caricatures. I took my inspiration from a magazine called Krokodil (crocodile) which was a Soviet propaganda magazine. One of my first tasks was to copy a caricature of president Reagan playing a grand piano with the caption “Reagan is playing the strings of International Capital.” I was praised for the result. This was the beginning of my fascination with portraits.
We left Russia in 1991. We immigrated to Israel and we were penniless since all our property was taken away by the Soviets together with our citizenships. New life, new language, new college (I studied industrial engineering). I put my art on hold for a while to provide for myself and my family. One of my new friends later on brought me to the School of Art in Tel-Aviv, where I attended still life painting classes.
15 years ago I got married and immigrated to the United States, where we live happily with two kids and a pup in the suburbs of New Jersey. In the present, I am a full time artist and own a home art studio where I create my paintings and give art lessons.
My art is available for viewing here: