Although he also does photography and paints, Russian artist Salavat Fidai’s favorite medium is a pencil. Which sounds simple, until you actually see his artworks; these are no ordinary sketches. Using a tiny craft knife and a magnifying glass, Salavat carves intricate micro sculptures into the graphite tips of pencils.
His subject matter varies; during a quick scroll through his works, we spotted the Iron Throne and The Night King from Game of Thrones, Darth Vader’s head, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel tower, Presidents Trump and Putin, and even some more mundane objects like a teacup and a book. ‘I find inspiration in pop culture, art, in the photographs, I take of buildings and monuments on my travels, and occasionally, even from my Instagram followers,’ Salavat says.
‘This is a unique and very interesting form of art,’ he writes. ‘Graphite is an extremely brittle material, and sculptures often break down in the process. But it does not upset me; on the contrary, I find it exciting and suspenseful. Every new sculpture is a challenge, and there is no absolute guarantee that I will succeed. The more complicated the shape, the more interesting I find it.’
A single piece can take anything from a few hours to several days to complete.
‘The process of carving sculptures, for me, is like meditation. While working I listen to instrumental music; it helps me to concentrate and clears some space in my mind for inspiration. I have to work at night when the whole family is asleep, so there are no interruptions.’
Interestingly, Salavat had grown up in an artistic family but initially chose a different path. He is actually a lawyer and had been practicing law for more than 20 years when he was laid off in 2013. After a year of soul searching, he decided to go back to his childhood hobby: carving.
‘At school, I really liked carving sculptures out of wood and chalk. I liked to carve animals and portraits of ancient heroes. In early 2015 I returned to the forgotten passion and discovered a new material: pencil graphite rods.’
Salavat’s micro sculptures have been exhibited in London, Singapore, LA, Sharjah, and Saint Petersburg. Using magnifying glasses, visitors are able to fully appreciate the intricate detailing of his mini-masterpieces. On his Instagram account, you can actually watch him work – he often posts time-lapse videos. @salavat.fidai
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