Saturday, 17 January 2009

Influences part 2: Aleksandr Petrov

Russian animator Aleksandr Petrov is an artist whose work you either know or you don't know: his style is so stunning and unique that it's almost impossible to mistake for anyone else.
He won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1999 with The Old Man And The Sea, and has been nominated for the same award in 1990, 1998, and 2007 for The Cow, Mermaid, and My Love. (He also made a Chirstmas advert for Coca-Cola featuring Santa taking a drink of Coke - but that is his least stunning piece of work!)

Petrov creates his films by painting a frame of animation onto a single pane of glass and then editing the painting with his fingers to create the next frame of animation, and so on, and so on, for about 3 years at a time... The results are astonishing, and if you were to only ever see one piece of animation, I would suggest something by Petrov.

I first heard of Petrov's work last year, but I was instantly charmed by the quality of his painting style (an Impressionistic form of Romantic Realism), the quality of the animation movement, as well as the dynamic camera movements and morphs that occur throughout his films to both condense time and create more interesting transitions between scenes. His films have a brilliant and unique visual style that deserves to be seen by everyone, but I think his commercials are even greater! Pascal Blais Studios in Canada have some of his commercials available for viewing on their website. (Follow this link to their website, click 'Directors' and go to 'Alexander Petrov', then click on the various thumbnails along the bottom to view each astonishing clip - I would particularly recommend the United Airlines The Night clip to the right of the Coke Santa thumbnail).

Check this short clip of Aleksandr Petrov's latest film, My Love (2006), to realise why he is my favourite animator (if not one of my favourite artists).

For those that are interested, here are some of his films available to view on YouTube:
My Love (2006)

The Old Man And The Sea (1999)

And here are some interesting links about Petrov and his work:
Wikipedia entry about Petrov:

AWM article titled: The Old Man And The Sea: Hands Above The Rest?

Article titled: My Love: Animation Urges into Psychology

An interview with Petrov for Animation World Magazine (AWM)

Article in RussiaToday titled: Oscar-winning director reveals secrets of his art

Article in RussiaToday titled: Russian animator up for second Oscar

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