Igor Kufayev

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Igor Kufayev
Igor Kufayev at Lake Arenal, Costa Rica, Jan 2012 (B&W).jpg
Igor Kufayev (2012)
Born (1966-01-05) January 5, 1966 (age 51)
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Nationality British
Occupation artist, spiritual teacher
Website www.igorkufayev-vamadeva.com

Igor Anvar Kufayev /ˈkfəjɛv/ (Russian: И́горь Анва́р Kу́фаев; IPA: [ˈiɡərʲ ɐnˈvar ˈkufəɪf]; born January 5, 1966), is a Russian British artist, yogi and spiritual teacher. Also known as 'Vamadeva' (Sanskrit), which means "preserving aspect of Shiva in his peaceful, graceful and poetic form".

Early years[edit]

Igor Kufayev was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In his childhood he had many spiritual experiences associated with awakening of Kundalini. Classically trained in art from an early age he attended a private studio of a martial artist and painter Shamil Rakhimov, a place of underground meetings between liberal thinkers, poets and painters. The violent death of his mentor lead to young Igor's decision to become an artist. Kufayev received his formal education at the Art College in Tashkent, and after two years of compulsory military service, resumed his studies at the Theater and Art Institute, at the department of Mural painting. In 1988 he was accepted as a student of a second year to the Academy of Arts (now Imperial Academy of Arts) in St Petersburg, Russia. Independently of his official program, he studied and painted directly from the masterpieces of western art, in the Hermitage Museum.

Career of an artist[edit]

In 1990 Kufayev left Russia and moved to Warsaw, Poland. This was a formative time. An encounter with the art critic Andrzej Matynia lead to Kufayev's first solo exhibition, Eternal Compromise[1] at the Monetti Gallery, Warsaw. Igor was invited to take part in The Meeting of Sacred Images, at the National Museum of Ethnography in Warsaw, with his triptych Compromise,[2] alongside such Icons as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and Mexican Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as modern masters as Christian Boltanski.[citation needed]

He moved to London in August 1991, the same year his six years old daughter from his first marriage died in a road accident. He remained in a prolonged period of grief unable to paint until he was able to come to terms with the personal tragedy and embarked on the series of dramatic paintings. The turning point came in 1994, on the wake of the one-man exhibition, entitled Burnt Earth[3] and dedicated to the memory of his daughter Laura, he put his name on the map of London's art scene as one of the most promising young painters. In less than a decade Kufayev managed to establish himself as a successful artist, and opened his own studio in London where he held private views of his work annually. The Zauber tondo was created in response to the commission Igor Kufayev received from Elton John AIDS Foundation, which was to accompany the performance of Mozart's opera Die Zauberflote at Christie's head-quoters at St James's in London, in the autumn of 1995. A few months later, in January 1996 he was granted British Citizenship.

Kufayev personifies the ancient elements of the Masonic mysteries that lie at the heart of Die Zauberflote: Earth and Water as women, Air and Fire as men, and in their sensual conjunctions, hints at the humorous and erotic sub-texts with which Mozart brings comedy to an opera of high seriousness.

— Brian Sewell, Catalogue to accompany exhibition with the performance of Die Zauberflote organized by Elton John AIDS Foundation at Christie's, St James's, London, 1995

The following series of four tondos under the same title, Zauber[4] was an achievement which took two years to complete (1995–1997).

Kufayev traveled widely visiting major art-fairs around Europe, as well as painting in France and Italy. Despite his unquestionable success he was deeply disillusioned about the state of art and all its prevalent trends.

Igor Kufayev, Kneeling figure, 1993, oil on canvas, 127x127 cm, London, Collection of Sir Elton John
Igor Kufayev, Purusha, 1995, tondo, oil on canvas, diameter 80 cm, London, Private Collection

Kufayev is one of a rare breed of artists who believe in going back to go forward... Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 1966, he studied at the Tashkent School of Art, where his early love of drawing was honed and refined for four years. He had, in fact, been drawing professionally since the age of 12, and recognized as something of a prodigy... His zeal to perfect drawing technique led him to move to St Petersburg and The Academy of Fine Art and, independently of his studies, he began making numerous copies of the great Western masterpieces hanging in The Hermitage... The whole of his show, Burnt Earth, is redolent of archeological finds – the secrets masquerading as treasures only a few feet under the surface. Blood and earth are unified in Kufayev's vision, emphasising our origins and our certain end."[5]

— Robin Dutt, writer and art journalist, The Independent

How many know of Igor Kufayev, another driven painter, scrupulous draughtsman, intellect and imagination wrestling with seemingly equal force"[6]

Inner transformation[edit]

An early interest towards spirituality lead to his practice of Yoga with initiation in 1996 to Transcendental Meditation, founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He immerses himself in the study of diverse spiritual traditions with special emphasis on Indian Philosophy, Sufi and Zen. At the age of thirty six Igor had undergone a radical transformation of consciousness[7][8][9] which subsequently blossomed into spontaneous unfoldment of Grace.

He abandoned his art career and for the next five years he continued long hours of meditation, integrating expanded state of awareness throughout his daily activities. During that time he discovered the teachings of Swami Muktananda which led him to the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. Its 'transcendental physicalism' appealed to his down to earth, creative sensibility, unique to that tradition's doctrine of Spanda (Sanskrit: "throb, vibration") which had been verified by direct experience, in perceiving the World as a Throb of Pure Consciousness in the Heart of his own.

In October 2006, in an interview with Seva Novgorodsev for the BBC Russian Service, Kufayev talked about his years as an artist and the decision to leave painting.[10]

Spiritual discourses[edit]

Since 2002 Kufayev has been sharing his insights into the nature of Being.[11] Igor leads an extensive correspondence, offers online webinars, gatherings and retreats for the seekers of truth worldwide. Many of his video-podcasts and recorded gatherings are freely available on YouTube channel.

He emphasizes the necessity of meditation together with self-enquiry as the means to facilitate the process of inner transformation without which, according to him, there is no real shift in awareness. Igor recognizes the higher state of consciousness to be a prerequisite for actions performed in accord with the evolutionary flow and in freedom from the binding influences of action itself, as in the following excerpts on the subject:

... Before the actual communion with the divine takes place, the human action will always suffer from the subjective motivation based on partial understanding of any given situation... No amount of common sense, a good will or being responsible is enough to act rightly and to perform the right action, because all those notions are always individually bound by man-made concepts and however noble in their agenda will always fall short of the action performed in freedom from the karmic influences... The absolute right action is based on one's level of awareness which in turn rests on being established in the Self. That is the only criteria for the right action. When man acts without longing, freed from the duality of the opposites, firmly established in the Self-referral state, he is fit for the action which always promotes peace and evolution...

— Igor Kufayev, the letters, 2005

Igor points out that awakening takes place on a cellular level, and it is the physiology with its nervous system, that acts as a support for individual consciousness to mature into what is often termed as 'Enlightenment'. It could be said that his methods are rooted in Shaiva Tantra,[12] Having studied diverse traditions Igor remains elusive to categorization, maintaining that:

Abiding in a state of spontaneous absorption transcends the boundaries of any given truth based on an intellectual grasp of ultimate reality...

In September 2013 Igor Kufayev was interviewed for the 'Conscious TV' (London based Channel), where he shared his views on the subtleties of awakening process based on biographical events of his life,[13] and addressed the unifying complexity of self-realization and integration of higher states of awareness as seen from the biological perspective of human consciousness.[14]

Private life[edit]

Igor now lives with his partner and their two small children. In 2006 he moved back to Uzbekistan and lived in his birth city of Tashkent for almost four years. Between April 2011 and December 2012 he and his family were traveling in Central America with the base in Costa Rica, followed by spending nine months, until September 2013, in Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. At the present Igor doesn't have a permanent base, he tours as a teacher, pointing towards realization of greater potential present in human consciousness.

Kufayev has a grown-up daughter from a previous relationship who lives in Warsaw, Poland.


External links[edit]