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sylvester stallone paintingAP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

In a choice between painting an acting, Sylvester Stallone knows to which one he'd deliver the knockout punch.

"I think I'm a much better painter than an actor," Stallone said in a recent interview promoting a new retrospective of his work at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. "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."

The actor, who's been painting for about 50 years, told the Wall Street Journal that he'd give up his Hollywood career if it interfered with his art.

"There is nothing as gratifying as being one on one with a concept, with your thought and vision," Stallone told the paper. "Movies are the work of a collective conscious. It takes 500-800 people on a movie to complete a vision. Painting is as close as a person can get to actually capturing the heat of the moment."

Though he made clear which creative outlet he prefers, Stallone's filmography has been an inspiration in his artwork, especially "Rocky" and its titular character, which popped up often as subjects in his pieces from the '80s and '90s. The Russian exhibit -- whose introduction winkingly notes that painting was Stallone's first love, but "due to financial problems, he had to become an actor" -- has attracted film buffs and curious Russians alike.

But members of St. Petersburg's branch of the Communist Party are none too pleased with his presence in their state museum, calling Stallone "Rambo" and "an embodiment of Cold War and the U.S. military machine." Another Communist leader said Stallone "was a soldier of (Ronald) Reagan," and that "renowned artists and characters of their paintings wouldn't want to be placed next to daub by a Cold War relic, filled with hatred."

The artist remained unfazed.

"If my visit is a challenge for somebody," Stallone said, "let it be so."

Sounds like the painter still has some fight in him after all.

[via The Dissolve]