People | 20 QUESTIONS

Max Goshko-Dankov: Public art returns lost personal connections

by Claire Williamson

Staff Writer

Name: Max Goshko-Dankov
Age: 37
Nationality: Russian
Occupation: Artist
Likes: Big cities
Dislikes: Stagnation


1. When did you know you wanted to be an artist? I entered art school when I was 12 and, since then, I knew I wanted to devote myself to art.

2. Describe your artistic style in three words. Color. Positive. Life.

3. You work in bold contrasting colors. How do you settle on a color scheme? I don’t have a system, honestly! I always draw without a sketch, from a blank sheet, wall or other surface. I don’t like to guess the result, and completely surrender to the mood. I sometimes wonder how I can combine incompatible colors, but I have no answer: I’m just lucky that I can do it!

4. What do you listen to while working? You might not believe me, but usually when I create I watch TV shows or movies about space or films about the solar system or how the galaxy expands.

5. Why do eyes feature as a motif in so many of your pieces? I don’t remember why I started to include eyes in my pieces. In many cultures, the eye is a symbol of protection. Therefore, the presence of eyes in my artwork makes them even more immune to negative vibrations.

6. What inspired your first big coloring wall in Moscow in 2016? The idea of putting a big coloring wall on the streets of Moscow was a continuation of a personal exhibition I had in 2015. At the time, I invited all the guests at the exhibition to draw with me. I didn’t know what the result would be, whether people would like to create with me or not.

7. When designing your 2018 Tokyo coloring wall, how did you decide which monuments to include? I have long wanted to visit Japan. I had so many pictures in my head, so many expectations! So when I was invited to do a project in Tokyo, I almost fainted. I painted Tokyo the way the city was in my head, how I imagined it. And, as I saw later, since both “versions” of the city overlapped, I was extremely happy.

8. Once your coloring walls are all filled in, what happens to them? They can become indoor art objects. For example, in Sofia, the coloring wall was left as a painting at a school at the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria. Hopefully soon I can transfer these art objects to local galleries and museums.

9. What role does public art play in society? Despite the fact that people can communicate with each other online, in the end many people are indefinitely alone. In my opinion, public art returns that lost personal connection.

10. Do you think it’s important for art to be interactive? I believe that art for art’s sake is boring. We live in an era of speed, fast marketing and fast art. Therefore, it is very important to give people the opportunity to find themselves and share positive things. When a person is immersed in coloring my art objects, they can get in touch with themselves for a while, slow down and mull over important questions.

11. Why has adult coloring become so popular? Children also like to color very much, but they get tired quickly while adults can spend a lot of time painting. I find this (focus) incredibly inspiring. The desire to create beauty is inside each of us, so it’s quite natural that when you don’t have time to do so in your day-to-day life, you (color) with pleasure.

12. How do you overcome a creative block? When I feel emotionally down, I just start to travel more — this is my recipe.

13. Does regular travel impact your worldview? I believe that no matter what, we are very lucky to live in our time: We can travel, enjoy different continents and, most importantly, absorb different cultures. Through meeting people, I’ve learned that we are all very similar in our desires, needs, joys and fears. Art has no nation, country or gender.

14. When you think of Japan, what comes to mind? Kawaii, temples, hi-tech and speed.

15. What’s your signature look? Bright hair: blue, purple, red. I prefer black-and-white clothes and accessories, so I really need bright accents to not look like an alter ego of my art.

16. What do people notice about you first? Everyone knows that I like to smile, laugh and not lose heart.

17. Do you collect anything? Yes, I collect souvenirs from different countries and cities. Like plates, small paintings, spoons, etc.

18. What’s your favorite saying or proverb? Since I learn something new every day, my motto is “I know that I know nothing,” by Plato. It’s scio me nihil scire in Latin.

19. Your plane is delayed for three hours. How do you pass the time? I would draw or paint since my sketchbook and markers are always with me.

20. You have a magic lamp, but only one wish left. What would you wish for? To keep my family and friends in the next life.