Peter Hristoff & Djinn / by Jonathas Nazareth

On my first day at SVA, I had a class called the Artist's Journal with Peter Hristoff. It was described in the course book as a drawing class. Having taken many drawing classes before, I was a nervous about the experience. I have always drawn, but I never really considered myself any good. I enjoyed the exercise, but never gave it much thought. It was easy to look around and see people whose talents exceeded my little stick figures. 

I was very apprehensive about my first class being a drawing class. I wasn't really sure at the time what I was doing in art school, or what I hoped to achieve there. On our fist day we had a nude model and warm-up exercises like most classes. Peter would come around and give you little comments. When he came around to me, he simply said "beautiful." I was shocked but that put my guard down, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the class and have fun. Peter would make us fill 2 to 3 sketch books in one class. He once told me over the course of the year, that his biggest fear was to have a class where students all walked out with the same drawing. I followed Peter and attended his classes as a student, as a participant in his drawings marathons, and simply when I would get a text from him "Where are you? Come draw." I think Peter deserves a full post, which I will publish with his portrait later.

This post is about his drawing class. Peter made the class room into a work of art. He would pick themes, make costumes, and bring in the most unusual props. Once, he brought in a pig's head and had the models hold and pose with it. His models have been working with him for over 10 years and they all give themselves to his created worlds with such enthusiasm and a quiet seriousness. The students are transported into the magical world of Peter. I have always wanted to capture his classes with photographs and film, but we weren't ever allowed to use recording devices. 

When Peter became the artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he gave me the biggest gift. He asked me to shoot one of his drawing marathons at the Met. The the theme was borrowed from the Seljuks (Read more about Peter and his Residency here). He had begun collecting fabrics and making the props nearly one year before the class. I had the privilege to make this short little video that documents his drawing marathon.