Russian artist Rinat Shingareev‘s Facebook page proudly proclaims he’s the “best artist alive.” I know, I know, you’ve heard that before. Rinat may or may not be the best, especially when legends like Ron English, Banksy and Kehinde Wiley are still well, alive and very productive. But the 25-year old artist, is on to something very extraordinary.

The world according to Rinat is bright, rich and filled with visual references to the biggest memes and artists in pop music and culture. Politics and Music collide as Rinat renders Lil’ B as a martyred Jesus smiling as the American Flag flutters in the background, GaGa in the nude, a tearful George Bush, all in a striking realistic oil technique. Take a closer look at Rinat’s work and read our interview below.

Art Nouveau: Where are you from? Where are you based?

Rinat Shingareev: I’m from Russia, but for 10 years I have lived and worked in Italy. I’ve never stood still and a lot of traveling. New places, cultures and people have also influenced my art.

AN: You’ve painted GaGa, Madonna, Lil’ B and Nicki Minaj to name a few, music is an obvious influence in your work. What are you listening to in your studio these days?

RS: Music has always played a big role for me and is the main source of inspiration. I was educated with Breakbeats, Jungle and Hip-Hop. Sometimes I like to listen to classical compositions. Next was the era of Trance and Progressive House. I remained a fan while the genre did not evolve. It was a time of night clubs and festivals. Now in my studio I listen to  hip-hop, Dub Techno and Deep House. Right now I’m playing the new Ski Beatz album.

AN: You’ve been called pop-successor, how important is Andy Warhol and his legacy to pop art to you and your work?

RS: At the Art Academy I learned a lot of material and was very impressed with Pop artists, even my thesis has been devoted them. I’m especially close to art and the philosophy of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. Andy Warhol was a genius and advanced for his time. His vision of the things and ideas were revolutionary, that forever changed the art.

AN: You’ve begun to translate your art to t-shirts and hats. What signaled this idea?

RS: It was a very successful experiment! In the Academy I studied fashion and design and for a long time and planned to be engaged by fashion design. I recently released a small line of t-shirts and caps with my work, which sold for a few days. I still get messages from people who want to buy my t-shirts. This is a great way to go beyond the painting and present my art outside of the galleries, the Internet and books, but a simple image on clothing. Now I’m very busy with other projects, but in future I will continue to develop this idea.

AN: How important is achieving realism to your work ?

RS: Achieving realism is not the main purpose of my work, but bright and rich colors, various transitions and a large amount of detail help me to tell more in detail my personage and to transfer the basic idea.

AN: A lot of your work borrows heavily from pop culture. Why do you feel it important to highlight these references?

RS: I believe that the basis of Pop Art will always be actual, only the tendencies will change. I consider myself a Pop Art successor and try to develop as the classical ideas and introduce new elements.

AN: What’s next for you?

RS: I have a lot of ideas that I would like to realize. At the moment I’m work on my solo exhibition. It will be very big and very special event. Also, I will continue my experiments in fashion design, photography and video.

AN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

RS: I’d like to underscore that I have nothing but respect to the personalities in my paintings, and that I do not render political beliefs through my work.