Monday, May 1, 2017

Diva Watched Master Artist Salavat Fidai Transform Pencil Tips into Game of Thrones Microsculptures

Grand sweeping landscapes, massive battle scenes and memorable dramatic visuals are mainstays of HBO's award-winning fantasy drama series "Game of Thrones".

However, to promote upcoming Season 7 of "Game of Thrones", fans are invited to view their beloved TV show in a much smaller scale. An epicly miniscule scale, to be exact.

Together with art studio and curatorial space K+, HBO Asia commissioned microsculptor Salavat Fidai to carve 16 pieces of various images from the show, all on the tips of fragile graphite lead pencils.

The entire exhibit took 4 months for the Russian artist to complete.

The result is a special exhibition called "Game of Thrones: A Pencil Microsculpture Exhibition by Salavat Fidai", held at K+ Scotts Square till June 4, and admission is FREE!

Trust Red Dot Diva you have to get *really* up close to the exhibits!

Red Dot Diva was lucky enough to be at the media preview before the official opening, and had the chance to view the microsculptures at a leisurely pace. She has seen macro pictures and timelapse videos of Salavat Fidai's sculptures on his Instagram, but it was still magical to see them up close. The amount of details carved in each piece of work is astounding!

And yes, you do need those magnifying glasses provided by the studio, even if you have great eyesight. Seriously, these microsculptures are no bigger than 5mm; some are probably only about 2mm in size!

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Each of the precious microsculptures was encased in bell jar, on a rotating base specially built for the exhibition by K+. This allowed the spotlight to capture the detailed strokes of Salavat Fidai's works.

One of the K+ staffers admitted that this exhibition was one of the trickiest to display and they also spent a lot of time trying to best angles from the spotlights for the tiny sculptures. Red Dot Diva got to say - all their hard work really paid off!

When the sculptor arrived some minutes later, he was very impressed with the way his pieces were displayed. Red Dot Diva overheard him saying that this was the first time his sculptures were rotated in an exhibition, and he was keen to get a sample display base from K+!

Red Dot Diva learnt that the most difficult piece Salavat Fidai had to do for the exhibit was the Iron Throne. It took him 2 weeks to craft this piece of work, and went through 2 attempts before the third and successful one was approved by K+ and HBO Asia.

It is a gorgeous piece indeed, with each embedded sword of the throne individually sculptured. Even in its tiny form, the Iron Throne looks as majestic as a real life prop.

This piece is now one of Salavat Fidai's personal favourites, together with the direwolf sigil for House Stark.

A few sigils of the key Houses still at play in Season 7 were represented in the exhibit. These were Houses Stark, Baratheon, Targaryen, Greyjoy and Red Dot Diva's favourite - Lannister!

Fire and Blood! Just look at the filigree carvings!

Other than the sigils, Salavat Fidai has rendered other sculptures that any Game of Thrones fan will recognize, like the Three-Eyed Raven (take a closer look at the top of its head for the third eye!) .....

.... the formidable Night King,

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.... the Hand of the King, Cersei's Crown, Drogon and more!

During the media preview, Salavat Fidai, who had just arrived Red Dot Island the night before, gave a brief demonstration on his specialized craft. It was his first time in Asia and was eager to touch base with fans of his works and art appreciators here.

Speaking through an interpreter, Salavat Fidai mentioned that he decided to hone his skills on microart after he was laid off from his job as lawyer. "It was a mid life crisis", he joked.

At first, he copied other people's works and then began creating his own miniatures, starting off by painting the works of his favourite painter Van Gogh on matchboxes. These turned out to be popular online and that fueled his energy to try other mediums like watercolours on sunflower seeds. He later discovered another artist who worked on pencils and began practising on pencils leads too. He has not looked back since.

His pencil microsculptures now command a price of about USD 2,000 or more as there are not many artists who produce similar type of art.

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Using a sharp X-Acto knives, Salavat Fidai began explaining that after a concept art has been finalized, he would cut a rough shape on the graphite pencil lead before the initial sculpting begins.

He also showed us the wooden box specially designed for storing these fragile sculptures, and how to pick these pencils from its resting position. If not picked up correctly, the graphite microart would most probably crumble into pieces.

Salavat Fidai then used an already half-finished direwolf sculpture and carefully demonstrated his skill in the more detailed and precision work on the lead surface, while peering into a microscope. He admitted that his eyes do get tired, so he can only work on a sculpture for a few minutes and then, he will give his eyes some time to rest and refocus before resuming.

While he took a brief rest, Salavat Fidai recounted how people online often mention that he should put his skills to more practical use, like become a surgeon, and get to save lives instead. "In order to do that, I figure that I will need to put in many years to study medicine and surgical skills, and then gain more years of work experience. This will take far too long for me to become a good surgeon. So, I will just thank the people who suggest the idea, and then continue what he has been doing," he said, giving a wry smile.

Here are a couple of videos of Salavat Fidai carving a sample piece of the House Stark sigil on a half-finished pencil. Just look at those gentle, fine and precise strokes of the knife!

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Here's a photo depicting the different stages of Salavat Fidai's work in progress:

In addition to the 16 commissioned "Game of Thrones" pieces, there are 15 more masterpieces made exclusively for K+. These consist of further visual interpretations inspired by the series, like this totem of skulls which hark to the common Braavos greeting, 'Valar Morgulis' ...  

... a "Winter is Coming" snowflake, a rose and a very unique carving made on a white graphite pencil, reminiscent of Jon Snow's direwolf, Ghost!

These will set a collector back by at least SGD 2,000 each, so if you are keen on hoarding a miniature piece of Westeros, head to K+ before your favourite item gets snapped up.

For the rest who are simply huge fans of "Game of Thrones", mark a date on your calendar and head down to K+ anyway. It's a magical and rare kind of exhibition that simply cannot be missed!


Red Dot Diva will be working on an interview article with Salavat Fidai. Stay tuned!


Check out more of Salavat Fidai works on his Facebook page and Instagram.

Season 7 of "Game of Thrones" premieres the same time as the U.S. on Monday, 17 July at 9 AM exclusively on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601). There will be a same day primetime encore at 9 PM, and will also be available on HBO on StarHub GO and HBO On Demand.

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