Russian-born Mark Cheikhet is a master violinist who also paints, seeking to fuse the arts into something that Wassily Kandinsky called “Gesamtkunstwerk,” or the total work of art. With a palette that conjures Marc Chagall, Cheikhet creates abstract paintings of shimmering colors and vibrating bands of white that he considers part of his struggle for perfection in expression.
“I’m trying out new forms,” Cheikhet says. “Merging classical and jazz music is a real departure for me. I have this idea of using my paintings as the basis of videos that I can project while I play. The trouble with music is that you can only feel it; you can’t see it or touch it.”
Cheikhet is making his San Antonio debut as a painter in “Four Emerging Artists” at Gallery Nord. He was born in Moscow in 1973 and both of his parents were professional violinists. His father played in the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra for 40 years, while his mother was a respected violin teacher. In 1991, he was offered a full scholarship at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
After much acclaim in Texas, he studied at the University of Southern California with Ellis Shoenfeld. While in Los Angeles, he founded the International String Quartet, which performed new works by modern composers. He returned to Russia to study at the Moscow Conservatory in 1995, where he became the concertmaster before graduating in 2000. Since then, he has toured the world, performing as a soloist and chamber musicians throughout Russia, Germany, France, Mexico and the US. Recently, he’s begun performing jazz concerts of his own compositions.
His sister, Anya Grokhovski, is a noted chamber music artist who studied at the Russian Academy of Music in Moscow and was a professor at the Gnessin State College there before moving to the United States in 1989. She settled in San Antonio in 1991, after being hired as a staff accompanist at UTSA, and she now directs Musical Bridges Around the World, which presents classical, folkloric and jazz concerts.
At Gallery Nord, Cheikhet is showing his large abstract paintings with titles such as “Gem Space 11,” “Southern Wind,” “The Howl” and “Ying & Yang.” Working with a palette knife and brush, he creates patterns and textures that evoke crashing chords and invisible waves of sound.
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