Using an X-Acto blade, needle, magnifying glass and pencil heads, Fidai manages to produce accurate images of various characters, pop cultures, famous buildings and statutes.
Fidai has also recreated masterpieces of Van Gogh and other impressionism artist using pumpkin seeds and matchboxes as his canvas such as Starry Night of Van Gogh, The Scream of Edvard Munch, as well as pop icons such as characters from Star Wars and Breaking Bad.
Salavat Fidai was born in 1972 in the village of Iglinsk district of Bashkotarstan, Russia and now living in the City of Ufa.
Salavat Fidai: I started making art after I lost my job (the company reduced me) because of the crisis in Russia.
I was a manager of big company of Ufa, Russia, when I was laid off last year.
And now I'm freelance artist.
Rather than find another office job, I devoted myself full-time to art, now I am able to help provide for my family by selling my art works. So I decided to dedicate myself to art and realize my potential. I think now is the moment when I have something to tell other people and know how to do it.
Can you describe to us your creative process for matchbox paintings?
Salavat Fidai: Under the glow of a single work light while my family sleeps, I used a craft knife and 4x magnifying glass to create tiny sculptures out of pointy pencil lead. It takes six to 12 hours of work for an average statue. Complicated models take two to three days.
The creations come in full view only after I used a macro lens and photograph them to reveal the great detail of faces, hands and objects left by his slow, deliberate blade. I’m a total night owl. I find myself more productive and it’s much easier to focus at night.
My miniatures are not limited to pencils.
At the office, I worked only six hours. And now I work for 12 hours, seven days a week. But I'm very happy now.
The concept for my paintings or sculptures starts to take form while I’m asleep. The next day, I look for photos and video material, and then I make sketches or layouts. When I work with oil on canvas, it’s more emotional and expressive. If I paint acrylic on seeds, it’s hard work and more detail oriented. When I carve sculptures from pencils, it’s much more meditative.
I spend more than 10 hours a day in my home studio, creating miniature sculptures or paintings I like to experiment in different areas of art: photography, painting, drawing, and sculptures. I love to create new ideas, trying new materials, and subjects.
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Salavat Fidai: My favorite canvas is the humble pumpkin seed, its smooth, white surface perfect for tiny copies of Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and a series of portraits based on characters from Star Wars and other characters of pop-culture.
Salavat Fidai: I do a lot of reading, and go to other artists’ exhibitions. Sometimes it’s my dreams, sometimes it is the artwork of other artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh. I am inspired by different good music.
My children will be artists, too. My son learned pencil carving and recently sold his first carved pencil.