Igor Vishnyakov was born in 1968 in Moscow and spent his childhood in Africa and Southeast Asia. After returning to Moscow in the mid-80’s he started painting and photographing key figures of the Russian avant-garde movement, and began to widely exhibit his work. In his youth Vishnyakov became a significant figure in the Moscow and St. Petersburg art community.
He became a permanent member of the New Academy of Fine Arts soon after it was founded by Timur Novikov in 1989. He was first made aware of alternate photographic printing processes while studying in the New Academy. Amongst other photographers such as Novikov, Egelskiy, Alexandrov, Ostrov and other Academy members, Vishnyakov was engaged in reviving precious photo printing techniques widely spread in the XIX century, such as gum arabic pigment print, bromoils, calotypes, chirotypes, carbon process, Savrasov and Sery methods and many others.
In 1990 Vishnyakov moved to New York to establish himself as a reporter and then as a fashion photographer and soon got his work published in a dozen of American and European magazines. Soon after, he continued his art education in the New York studio of a French painter, Emmanuel Flipo. Although living as an emigrant, Vishnyakov retained his connections with the Russian art world, especially with the New Academy, and participated in a number of group exhibitions. In 1997 he joined the movement that gathered neo-academics from Moscow and St. Petersburg.
His very own established technique is mixed media, combining classical photography, gum arabic pigment printing, tempera painting and printing. The smallest details, such as the peculiarities and nuances of applying an emulsion, with the pressure of brush strokes, or paper texture, give a strange, mystic significance, to his whole work. Photographic details show through and then dissolve in the layers of paint, leaving the image slightly unexposed and the philosophical background unrevealed, impelling the viewer to come back over and over again. Vishnyakov’s work has a feeling of ephemerality, conveying a sense of never being truly finished, leaving the viewer in a truly meditative state.
In his never ending reconnaissance of an ideal image of beauty, Vishnyakov is inspired by esoteric and Oriental spiritual practices. Everything finds a place in his art, whether it is Tao doctrine of five elements, symbols of Tarot’s Major Arcana, majestic temples of ancient India or plain netsuke figures. Whatever it is, his major principle is harmony,both inner and outward, spiritual and visual.
Vishnyakov also teaches photography in America and Japan, practices kung fu and remains a Shaolin monk’s novice, a practice he has been doing for eleven years. At present he is living between New York and Moscow with his muse, the model, and talented painter, Sasha Pivovarova.