Though they go about it through different styles, mediums and philosophies, Philip Brulia and Evgeny Krayushkin approach their art with the same objective - to relay their personal thoughts and experiences in a way that is universally relatable.
This shared idea has brought the two local artists, who are friends, together in one exhibition. With diverse offerings despite its overarching theme, locals are invited to test the artists' goal as "From Individual to Universal: The Art of Philip Brulia and Evgeny Krayushkin" is on display through Aug. 18.
The two are an unlikely match. Brulia is a seasoned exhibitor and pencil drawer who specializes in detailed portraits and landscapes. Krayushkin works with wood and abstract figures to tell single-image stories in this first public exhibition of his work.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Huntingdon artist Evgeny Krayushkin talks during a SAMA-Altoona event for the exhibit “From Individual to Universal: The Art of Philip Brulia and Evgeny Krayushkin,” on view at the museum through Aug. 18.
Krayushkin said the contrast between his and Brulia's work turns into a complement within the context of this exhibit.
"I look to Phil's [work] because there is a lot of individualism and a lot of crisp color detail and a lot of individuality as far as the representation and the people themselves," Krayushkin of Huntingdon said. "He kind of looks to mine for the idea of the individual, the idea of the personal, the idea of going through certain things in life, struggle, survival. I guess that's just how we looked at it to kind of complement each other, and how we could do this together and be together in this show."
The two artists first met when Brulia was told by a friend to look at Krayushkin's website. He was so impressed that the two arranged to meet so Brulia could buy some of the work.
If you go
What: "From Individual to Universal: The Art of Philip Brulia and Evgeny Krayushkin"
When: Through Aug. 18
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Altoona, 1210 11th Ave., Altoona
Museum hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday
"I thought, 'here's a young guy doing great work and nobody knows anything about him,'" Brulia of Ebensburg said.
So when Brulia was offered the time and space to exhibit his work at SAMA-Altoona, he offered Krayushkin the opportunity to collaborate. Barbara Hollander, museum coordinator at SAMA-Altoona, said she was unfamiliar with Krayushkin's work before this exhibition, and wasn't sure how she was going to hang it at first.
"I couldn't visualize it until I really got it all out, then I thought, 'Wow, these two are so related philosophically, though maybe not as much artistically,'" Hollander said.
She said she believes both artists bring the environment and the human race "together as one."
This is true in the literal sense with Krayushkin's art, as his carvings usually focus on one human form, either literal or abstract. He said that he found wood to be the best medium to work in because he could recreate his ideas three-dimensionally using certain depths, textures and sculpting techniques.
"It sort of started with [me thinking] wouldn't this be cool, if you could cut through the space, use positive space and negative space, to represent an idea and make a statement of some kind?" Krayushkin said.
Russian-born and a psychologist by trade, Krayushkin said the perspective on his art stems from his writing background. He tries to tell a whole story in one painting, or one image, but let the viewer decide for themselves exactly what that story is.
"It's kind of like when you come in in the middle of a book and you have no idea what's going on because it's not chewed up for you. ... A large group of people can start looking at a piece and finding something that has to do with themselves and pertains to themselves, something that they're going through something they've experienced. For me, that's always been a part of art, the discovery and the journey," Krayushkin said.
Brulia said that though his works are usually very personal, they usually have an uplifting feeling to them and are created with a universal message in mind.
"I try to make that relationship [where] if I explain what I do, maybe people can relate to it in some way," he said.
Brulia said he is happy that SAMA creates these opportunities for local artists, and that people who see the exhibit will find the mixture of styles unlike anything they've recently seen displayed in the area.
Hollander said she's glad to regularly dedicate gallery space to local artists. She added that even though Krayushkin was relatively unknown before, the fact that his work is selling so well shows that people "get it."
"I am not just saying this. I feel like we have some of the best artists anywhere and that they could all be rock stars on their own," Hollander said. "It's just not everybody is going to make it to the top for unknown reasons. It's a lot of luck, but it doesn't mean they're not as good as someone who is nationally known. I believe that they are as good and that's why I show them."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520