Noi Volkov began his artistic career in an environment where the creative process was controlled by the government of the Soviet Union. However, he maneuvered though the system to have some sort of free artistic expression, which, in Russia, came at a cost. Upon graduating from high school, he enrolled in the Vera Mukhina Higher School of Art and Design in Leningrad. There, he enjoyed artistic experiences afforded him at the school and equally enjoyed the city and its museums, galleries, architecture, and history – all of which affected his art. Additionally, Volkov discovered ceramics, including the old Italian ceramic techniques.
In the early 1980s, Volkov was under the watchful eye of the government, which affected the sales of the paintings. Thus, he resorted to making ceramic clocks and vases to sell to support his family. Even then, the government closed his kiln. Upon graduating in 1973, Volkov did a year of mandatory military service in Sosnovy Forest near Leningrad. While in the service, he worked as a sign painter, painting propagandist images and slogans in support of Russia.
It was not until Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1985-1991) and finally its head of state (1988-1991) that the restrictions placed on art and artists and on emigration were lifted. With these new freedoms, Volkov began to create works of art that were more reflective of his experiences in Leningrad. His works also became more political yet whimsical. In 1989, he and his family were granted permission to immigrate to the United States, where Volkov has been creating imaginative works of art that reflect his life and experiences in the Soviet Union as well as works that represent his views.
Volkov’s interest in surrealism is tempered by his attraction to the naïve art of his Soviet homeland. His creations are without a doubt Russian in composition and content. His bold colors and whimsical depictures are energetic works of fun. His ceramic works are imaginative reincarnations of artworks by the world’s master artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and others.