Leonid Afremov was born in the family of a shoe designer and a metal plant engineer on July 12th, 1955, in Vitebsk, Belarus, and was raised in Jewish traditions despite antisemitistic governmental practices. At school, Afremov showed himself as an intelligent and gifted student and developed great interest in history and art. Aside from attending all possible school classes, he also took private lessons from established local artists, including Barowski.
Leonid graduated with honor from a local high school in 1973 and entered the arts and graphics department of Vitebsk Education Institute. It was then that he discovered the world of Dali, Picasso, Modigliani and Chagall, the great artists that inspired and influenced his early work. While studying in college, Leonid Afremov took part in numerous amatory exhibitions and even managed to sell some of his paintings. During his college years, Afremov was introduced to his future wife, Inessa Kagan. They married in 1976, and the following year their first son Dmitry was born.
After graduation, Leonid Afremov got the position of a label designer at a local liquor plant. For a short time, he also worked a set designer in a theater. The period of his free-lance career began in the early 1980’s when he started designing themed walls for various events, making propaganda posters for schools and communal farms and creating template sculptures of Soviet politicians. However, this type of work was unavailable in autumn and winter, and Leonid Afremov spent the cold months painting at home. Since he had no access to governmental exhibitions and local art societies because of his Jewish origin, most of his early paintings were sold privately and thus didn’t get wide acknowledgment. At the time, Afremov didn’t keep track of his work, and many of the paintings created between the 80’s and 90’s were lost. In 1984, his second son Boris was born.
The crucial turnaround in the life of Leonid Afremov occurred in 1990, when the family moved to Israeli following the Khrushchev Thaw. Leonid had some relatives in Ramat-Gan that helped him find an apartment to rent. A few weeks after the trip, the artist got the job of a sign designer in a local advertisement agency. After that, he made frames in a gallery shop – a place where he got his first idea of palette knife painting. Because of the generally hostile attitude towards Russian immigrants in Israeli, local galleries offered extremely low prices to buy oil paintings by Afremov. His attempts to get even at local exhibitions and street fairs failed as well.
In the early 90’s, Leonid Afremov was mostly painting in watercolors and acrylic and nearly didn’t use the palette knife. He adjusted to the taste of the audience and worked simply for the sake of money. Even though the family moved to Slashdot, the city of Russian immigrants, Afremov couldn’t find new business opportunities there. He kept putting up with low rates until his teenage son Dmitry t...