Author & photo by Isadora Pennington
Stepping inside of artist Ross Rossin’s workspace is a bit of a head trip. Massive hyper-realistic portraits hang on the walls, the subjects’ steady gazes calmly looking out across the clean and open space. Rossin’s portraits have a uniquely captivating quality that draws viewers closer not only by the impressive detail and nuanced brush strokes but also by the spirit that seems to seep out of each canvas. In fact, Rossin’s work is so realistic that many viewers initially can’t believe that the portraits are paintings and not high-resolution photographs.
“Physical likeness is where I start, the journey begins there,” explained Rossin. When approaching a new subject he typically studies them for only about 5 minutes, snapping photographs to reference later and then, crucially, he stares deep into the person’s eyes. This examination, if you will, is part of what Rossin considers to be a “silent dialogue – a somewhat mystical dialogue” between the artist and the subject that begins when face to face but continues on long after the subject has left and Rossin works alone with a canvas and his brush.
“It is as intimate as you can get,” Rossin said, speaking of the humanity that he seeks to encapsulate with every subject who sits for him, regardless of their position or status. His work bridges the gap between artistry and psychology with just a hint of mysticism. When displaying these works, he facilitates a further conversation between subject, artist, and now, the viewer.
“That’s intimacy shared with the world.”
Inspired by the great masters such as Rembrandt and Leonardo DaVinci, Rossin has been painting since he was only 6 years old. He earned himself a place in prestigious art schools from an early age and as a young man experimented with surrealism and abstraction but found that his true love was realist oil paintings. “Ever since I’ve done absolutely nothing else,” he said.
Originally from Bulgaria in Southeast Europe, Rossin’s mother was a librarian and his father an electrician. While the family supported his passions it was largely up to him to forge his own path in the art world. After graduating from the National Academy of Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria the political climate of the region opened up opportunities for travel, and he spent five years in Japan painting portraits for business leaders and political figures. Rossin’s reach expanded, leading to exhibitions in France, England, Belgium, and Germany, and commissioned portraits of political figures such as the President of the Republic of Cyprus, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, and the Lebanese Patriarch.
Later, five years of study and work in India became the inspiration for an exhibition titled “Ultimately Human” for the United Nations at the UN Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The portraits featured ordinary people he met on his travels alongside influential individuals such as Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner, and Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
Rossin and his wife Ava moved to Buckhead 18 years ago with their newborn son, Michael, and fell in love with the community and the art scene in Atlanta, settling down and later welcoming a daughter, Savannah, in 2015. “That’s how I know Atlanta – through Buckhead.” Locally his portraits of Paul Coverdell, Sonny Perdue, Roberto Goizueta and Douglas Ivester, Mike Bowers, and William Chase have all been received with great acclaim.
You may have also seen Rossin’s work when visiting Suntrust Park, as he was commissioned to create a nine foot sculpture of Hank Aaron swinging a bat, or perhaps you have seen the busts of VIPs on display at the Mercedes Benz Stadium.
That’s right – in addition to being a world-renowned painter, Ross Rossin is also a talented sculptor.