"What I value most about them is their contentment with who they are and where they're from," he says.
Russian-born artist Andre Kohn identifies similarities between the life of a Native American, a true cowboy and people in his homeland. The common element, he says, is their love for land and their appreciation for nature.
Andre was born in Stalingrad in 1972, but was raised in the southernmost region of the former Soviet Union - near the Caspian Sea. The family moved to Moscow in 1984, where the young adolescent enjoyed a sports career focused on shooting, fencing and equestrian activities. However, his self-professed "romantic soul" led him to abandon sports for fine arts.
He was fortunate to be accepted as an apprentice in the private studios of many prominent Russian artists. Following a three-year apprenticeship, Andre enrolled in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Moscow, where he was trained by European masters.
In 1992, Andre emigrated to the United States with his family and settled in Montgomery, Alabama. There, his first introduction to an American audience was a one-man show at the Weil Armistead Gallery. The show's success resulted in him receiving the International Peace scholarship, which enabled him to pursue a fine-arts degree at Auburn University. While at Auburn, Andre was introduced to the history and peoples of the American West.
Following graduation, Andre opened his own gallery, and also taught art at a private school and a local university. However, his desire to learn more about the West led to extensive travels throughout the western states.
In 1999, Andre moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to be inspired by the area's magnificent and mysterious desert landscapes. He devotes his time to painting images of working cowboys in his own unique style. He describes his interpretations of the cowboy as "somewhat poetic, without telling the whole story."
"I appreciate the work of those artists who do landscapes, still-life, portraiture or seascapes, but my choice of creativity, and my choice of expression, is the human figure," he says.
Andre is represented by the Heritage Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona; El Presidio Gallery, Tucson, Arizona; Greenhouse Gallery, San Antonio, Texas; Joe Wade Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Howard/Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, Washington; Fountain Side Gallery, Wilmington, North Carolina; and Gallery East, Montgomery, Alabama. For more information, visit www.andrekohn.com.