Sylvester Stallone is trading his boxing gloves for a paintbrush.
The "Rocky" star unveiled a 30-piece collection of artwork that he's created over the past four decades in an exhibition called "Sylvester Stallone. Painting. From 1975 — Until Today" at The Russian Museum in St. Petersburg on Monday. The venue, which draws more than 1 million visitors per year, is ranked the 51st most-visited museum in the world, making it quite the artistic coup for the Oscar-nominated actor, whose works have been previously displayed in Miami and Switzerland.
Stallone, 67, who is best known for his action-packed flicks like "Rambo," "Rocky," and, most recently, "The Expendables," studied art prior to launching his Hollywood career and claims that while he enjoys acting, he's much better suited for the artist's studio.
"I think I'm a much better painter than an actor," Stallone told journalists.
"It's much more personal and I'm allowed to just do what I want to do. Quite often in acting you have to play a certain part, you cannot speak as much as you want to speak. I suppose the heroes don't talk much, you have to be very stoic."
His latest exhibit, which runs through January 13, showcases many familiar characters and contemporaries from his life, but according to the museum, "they are not portraits in the traditional understanding of the word."
The museum website explains the collection: "Frantic form and color are used in the large-scale transfigurations that breathe new life and energy into the people who surround the artist, or the celebrated actor who is the idol of millions."
One painting showcases the late Michael Jackson in a colorful display of brushstrokes, while another is a rendered photograph of Sly's bulging muscles from his turn as The Italian Stallion.
Naturally, critics are already lining up to deliver the final blow on Sly's art career and blasting the museum for showcasing the work of an actor.
However, museum director Vladimir Gusev stood by Stallone and said the paintings "show the character of a passionate man" and were not simply "the work of an amateur."
"This is a real artist," Gusev continued. "The Russian museum does not show weak artists."
More than 1,000 patrons have already viewed the collection.
"I watched Stallone's movies, I'm not surprised that such a macho man can make paintings. I want to look at them," 49-year-old Natalia Akimova, a museum patron said.
Others were not as convinced. "I'm sure these paintings wouldn't be up if someone else produced them," Igor Savenko said.
Stallone said that he hopes people like his work and that he never imagined his paintings would be on display in the prestigious art house, but he wasn't afraid of a few jabs from critics.
"If my visit is a challenge for somebody, let it be so."