By Gussie Fauntleroy
Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets were recently both commissioned to create paintings capturing the instant of uncertainty and fear before an act of great courage—David confronting Goliath or Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus. It’s a theme that hits home with the Titovetses, who met as young artists in St. Petersburg, Russia; overcame any hesitation about stepping into the unknown; and immigrated to the United States together almost two decades ago.
Now married 24 years, the two painters have built their life together on the foundation of a shared belief in the vital importance of art, for themselves and for the world. They consider themselves fortunate to share many other interests as well. “It’s a very big deal that we have similar interests—we both love to go to museums, we love opera, everything to do with art,” Lyuba relates.
In the large, airy studio the couple share in their El Paso, TX, home, Aleksander sometimes likes to rev up Pink Floyd music, which Lyuba enjoys for a while before it’s time to switch to something else, such as classical baroque. Standing at their easels on separate sides of the room, they have each learned to enter a private space of concentration, with an understanding that neither interrupts the other as they work. Still, some influence inevitably flows between them. If one is working in warm colors, for example, it’s not unusual for the other to unintentionally tend toward a palette of similar warmth.
Both artists’ works are widely collected and have earned numerous awards and honors—among them, Aleksander was commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to paint First Lady Laura Bush’s official portrait in 2007—and they prefer to show their paintings together. Each has a singular style, yet the whole is greater than the two parts, the artists believe. “Our works complement each other. It’s like a choir; it’s more powerful with more voices in harmony,” Aleksander remarks.
In other aspects of art and daily life, the couple divides roles by inclination and skills. Lyuba takes the lead on household tasks for the couple and their two daughters, for example, while Aleksander does most of the packing of paintings to be shipped. Each pitches in when the other needs help. “We’re both very involved in the business end,” Lyuba adds, smiling. “It’s much easier to sell each other’s work.” Aleksander sums it up: “It’s not a profession; it’s a life. And we have the same life.”
Aleksander and Lyuba Titovets
Gallery Shoal Creek, Austin, TX; InSight Gallery, Fredericksburg, TX; International Museum of Art Gift Shop, EL Paso, TX; Concetta D. Gallery, Albuquerque, NM; Greenwich House Gallery, Cincinnati, OH; Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art, Charleston, SC; New Masters Gallery, Carmel, CA; New Gallery, Dallas, TX.
Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA.
Featured in November 2011.