1960s UNOFFICIAL ART
KRASNOPEVTSEV Dmitry Mikhailovich (1925–1995) Still life among the plates. 1967. Hardboard, oil. 54.5 × 67.5
“Still life among the plates” is an exemplary work by Dmitry Krasnopevtsev, one of the most cherished artists of post-war unofficial art. Everything here is as it should be: the most valuable period, the largest museum size, the subject — an undoubted creative success. This is probably the best work by Krasnopevtsev that was exhibited last year. A subtle mystical still life in a muted color scheme and with a rare pearl color at the shell.
For many years this item was in the collection of the USSR People's Artist, composer Arno Babadjanian — author of songs “Moscow — the best city in the world” and “The wedding sang and danced”.
Krasnopevtsev's amazing still lifes are not impressions, but the fruit of a complex philosophical work. The artist himself led a semi-reclusive lifestyle. He did not travel to exotic places and has never been abroad, including France, which he dreamed of. Exotic shells, shards, beautiful branches of overseas plants were brought to him by his friends. And out of the “dialogue” with these objects amazing metaphysical still lifes were born — a kind of “Krasnopevtsev's worlds”. The authenticity of the work is confirmed by Alexander Ushakov, a researcher of creativity, a compiler of catalogues of paintings and drawings by Dmitry Krasnopevtsev.
BORUCH (Steinberg Boris Arkadievich, 1938–2003) Hand of Moscow. 1990. Board, assemblage, mixed media. 40 × 30
The assembly of Boruch Steinberg was created more than thirty years ago, but somehow the plot has not lost its topicality. The viewer has the right to allow for different interpretations. But according to the artist's concept (told to us by his widow Tatiana Levitskaya), out of the window of the prison cell, through the bars, rises the Russian bear, tearing off its fetters and at the same time entangling itself in the nets in the shape of a dollar. This is the spirit of the discussion of the epoch-making 1990s, when Russia was divided into different camps in its attitude toward new freedoms and the challenges of capitalism. Today, however, this story is read very differently, and the term “Hand of Moscow” has lost a fair amount of its former good-natured caricature.
Boruch was the family nickname and later pseudonym of Boris Steinberg, son of Arkady Steinberg and brother of Eduard Steinberg. He is one of the rare artists who was not embedded in the Soviet labor system. He did not even work in publishing houses or art factories. Boruch led a defiant lifestyle, totally anti-Soviet. Despite threats and warnings, he sold paintings to foreigners, visited foreign embassies, threw feasts and squandered money. A strong and independent figure — he remained in the history of unofficial art as the author of original assemblages. The presented composition comes from the collection of the family of the artist's heirs.
SHABLAVIN Sergey Petrovich (1944) Winter-twilight. 1998. Oil on canvas. 70 × 100
Winter Conceptualism. This meter-long landscape formula by Shablavin is elegant in execution and subtle in mood. It attracts, all the visitors of the auction office were staring at it all the pre-auction week. The painting participated in the personal exhibition “Sergey Shablavin — Nonconformist” in the Netherlands in 2004 and was published in the catalog.
Shablavin has been writing “Landscape Formulas” for almost half a century, since the mid-1970s. The cybernetics graduate went headlong into conceptual art. He exhibited at apartment exhibitions, in the workshops of artists (at Sokov's and others), and then in the city committee of graphic artists on Malaya Gruzinskaya. Shablavin's paintings were acquired by famous collectors George Costakis and Norton Dodge. Today they are in the Tretyakov Gallery and other museum collections.
SILIS Nikolay Andreevich (1928–2018) Serenity. 1980. Bronze. 10 × 50 × 10
Nikolay Silis is a postmodernist sculptor, an innovator of modern plastics. In the 1960s he was a member of the LeSS group, named after Lemport-Silis-Sidur. During the Khrushchev Thaw, the young sculptors spoke out against the domination of helpless ideological sculpture and soon felt the full force of the vengeance of Soviet academics. Sculptors of the LeSS were not allowed to work for a long time and even knocked down the finished bas-reliefs. But time has put everything in its place. Today Silis is one of the most popular sculptors of nonconformists. The sculpture “Serenity” is published in the monograph “Nikolay Silis” in 2008. It is accompanied by a written confirmation of authorship signed by Ekaterina Sergeevna Silis — granddaughter and heiress of the artist.
VECHTOMOV Nikolay Evgenievich (1923–2007) Ghost. 1999. Hardboard, oil. 70 × 40
Rather large size, “flashing” colors and trademark biomorphic surrealism. Vechtomov brought his system of images from the war. And the stimulus for the appearance of the “explosive” palette were the flashes of real explosions from shells and crashed planes. Later they transformed into cosmic landscapes inhabited by bizarre “systems”.
Nikolay Vechtomov is a member of the Lianozovo group. He exhibited at high-profile exhibitions in the “Druzhba” House of Culture in 1967 and in the “Beekeeping” pavilion at VDNKh in 1975.
“Ghost” used to be in the collection of Vladimir Nemukhin, and then — in the family of his heirs. The authenticity of the painting is confirmed by the expert opinion of V. S. Silaev.
1970s UNOFFICIAL ART
SHULZHENKO Vasily Vladimirovich (1949) Bather. 2017. Oil on canvas. 70 × 60
Before us is a new aesthetic provocation of one of the most odious and daring artists of our time. However, in this work the author of the endemic manifesto “Latrine” is rather romantically inclined. The arrow on the river where the stocky bather is preparing to enter the water is an obvious reference to Isaak Levitan's “Above Eternal Peace”. The man in the boat reminds us of Mikhail Nesterov's “Silence” with fishermen-monks. But then comes a riot of absurdity and surrealism. All the rules, all proportions and horizons come crashing down. After pushing off, the swimmer dives 100 meters ahead, to the great astonishment of the lonely fisherman. And all this action takes place against the background of the majestic and diligently painted Russian nature. Here it is, the old school! They don't make such things anymore.