The Surrealism Website
Michael Cheval (1966-)
Michael Cheval (Mikhail Khokhlachev) was born in Kotelnikovo, a small town in southern Russia. Growing up in an artistic family, his love of drawing was encouraged from early childhood by his father, Mikhail Khokhlachev, a self-taught artist and by his grandfather, Yuri Lipov, a professional artist and sculptor. His ability developed quickly and by three years old, he could already draw complex compositions.
When Cheval's family moved to Germany in 1980, the new environment made a great and indelible impression on the young artist. In 1986, he moved to Balkanabat, Turkmenistan and graduated from Ashgabat school of Fine Art in 1992.
In 1990 Cheval held his first personal exhibition in Turkmenistan's State Museum of Fine Art.
In 1993, he moved to Moscow, and worked as an independent artist and illustrator for various publishing houses.
He emigrated to the USA in 1997, and lived in New York. His talents were quickly recognised and in 1998 he became a member of the prestigious New York National Arts Club.
Amongst the influences on Cheval's art are the Russian artists of the 19th-20th centuries, the painters of the Italian Renaissance and the Dutch artists of the 16th-17th centuries, in particular Vermeer and Gerard ter Borch.
The greatest influence that helped him define his style came from the two major surrealists, Dali and Magritte, although he sees his style as distinct from surrealism, describing it as Absurdism. According to his definition, absurdism is an inverted side of reality, a reverse side of logic that does not emerge from the dreams of surrealists or the realm of the subconsciousness. Rather, it is a game of imagination, where pictorial elements are carefully chosen to construct a visual narrative.