1960s UNOFFICIAL ART
NEIZVESTNY Ernst Iosifovich (1925–2016) Human’s Way. 1979. Oil on canvas. 67 × 90
Before us is a profound philosophical reflection on human destiny. What does man live for? What is his purpose? To preserve himself and savor the joys of life? Or to bear a burden? Or is all life a preparation for a feat? Neizvestny's favorite personages and protagonists of his works are people of the mission, restless, seeking, ready for self-sacrifice. Those who live not for joy, but for conscience. His heroes are icaruses and prometheuses. Devotees, flying into the sun and bringing light to people. But, after all, a feat or a fervent service is not something that can be demanded from everyone. That's why “Human’s Way” is more a picture-question, not a picture-reproach.
Ernst Neizvestny was one of the leading figures in post-war unofficial art. He was the main character of the 1962 exhibition in the Manege, arguing with the omnipotent Khrushchev about the role and place of contemporary art (we'll skip this euphemism). At the time, Khrushchev had no way of knowing that he would soon be removed by just those “like-minded people” who had set him on the artists. And Ernst Neizvestny, ironically, would become the man the family asked to make a tombstone on Nikita Khrushchev's grave. “Human’s Way” is a painting made in the early years of emigration. “Beastly” in its power of painting. Authenticity is confirmed by Olga Neizvestnaya, the artist's daughter.
ZVEREV Anatoly Timofeevich (1931–1986) The Miracle of St. George about the serpent. 1961. Plywood, wood (desk drawer), oil, scratching. 47 × 58 × 7.5
Zverev, in his creative nature, capable of painting on any surface that comes up, with anything. No canvas? Do you have plywood? What do you have? Even a suitcase. There's a flat surface, let's paint on it. In particular, this picture is painted inside a desk drawer. Expert Valery Silaev notes that it belongs to little-known religious and philosophical cycle of the artist. Canonical iconographic subject — “The Miracle of St. George about the serpent” is so familiar that many people do not go into the content and do not know its nature. So, a few words about the miracle itself. To oversimplify, it is a Christian story of Perseus and Andromeda, who was given to be devoured by a monster. The wicked king, ruling in the territory of modern Lebanon and known for persecuting Christians, paid off the dragon, giving up his inhabitants to be eaten. One day it was his daughter's turn. But at a crucial moment, a brave rider descended from heaven and with a prayer on his lips defeated the monster. The tethered serpent was dragged to the city, its head cut off, and the stricken population converted to Christianity. Present-day scholars see different interpretations of the story. Some speak of victory over the devil. Others see the feat as a symbolic victory over paganism. St. George the Victorious is considered the patron saint of Moscow. The knight defeating the serpent is depicted on the coat of arms of the capital and on the coat of arms of the Russian Federation.
KRASNOPEVTSEV Dmitry Mikhailovich (1925–1995) Still life with a jug, stones and a branch. 1960s Pencil, ink on paper. 6.5 × 10.5 (in light)
This little drawing is published on page 85 of the first book of Alexander Ushakov's three-volume book. The piece is mysterious. With a history. Krasnopevtsev's drawings are often preparatory sketches for his future paintings. Not all of them later grew into paintings. Only the most successful. Like this one. Because based on this sketch, Krasnopevtsev painted a picture in 1973. It is reflected in his notes. But the painting itself is not published, its location is now unknown. Who will see it — let us know.
SVESHNIKOV Boris Petrovich (1927–1998) Alms. 1995. Oil on canvas. 63 × 74
This is a late Sveshnikov with a recognizable “grid” — a mosaic painting with Kafkaesque fantasy. Sveshnikov's complex subjects emerged after the camp. In the evenings in the barracks, he struggled with loss of sanity by painting fictional scenes from other worlds. Sveshnikov survived. Got out of the camp. Returned to Moscow. But the characters and atmosphere of those bizarre infernal scenes stayed with him for the rest of his life.
The story will be about three artists at once, since by the will of fate and the suppliers, this time we have formed a whole small string of the Vladimir school, or, as it is called, “Vladimir impressionism”. Potekhin — Kokurin — Fomiuk. Those who follows our stories, know, that on hearing at people there are three surnames — “three whales” of the Vladimir school of landscape painting: Britov, Kokurin, Yukin. But the tuning fork of the school — the artist who stood at the origins, who set the palette, was just Vladislav Potekhin. It is fair to say that he invented Vladimir impressionism. According to legend, he brought the idea of working in the hypercolour style from his trip to the south, to a holiday home in Goryachy Klyuch (Hot Spring) (remember this fact). Potekhin returned from his creative trip and infected his colleagues — starting with his studio mate, Yukin — with the mood of his vivid landscapes. Quite soon there arose a phenomenon of the Vladimir school — a special system of landscape painting, combining the openness of the palette and conciseness, silhouette of artistic techniques, typical rather of the graphic arts. The victorious march of the Vladimir painters was almost blocked in the very beginning. Young artists loudly announced themselves at the exhibition “Soviet Russia” in 1960. They were noticed by the public, critics and... influential detractors. It was enough to declare an artist a formalist — and he couldn't get away with it, his official career would be ruined. And so it happened. The artists were going to be expelled from the Union of Artists for lack of ideology. But then the authorities changed their anger for mercy and did not put any further obstacles.
POTEKHIN Vladislav Akimovich (1928–1964) Morning in Goryachy Klyuch. 1961. Oil on cardboard. 50 × 75
Vladislav Potekhin's predecessor painting “Morning in Goryachy Klyuch”, 1961, is a connoisseur work. Let it lacks bright colorism, but the plot is atmospheric and memorial. After all, the very place, where the Vladimir school appeared — Goryachy Klyuch is depicted. Potekhin's paintings are rare. The artist died at the age of 36. He was soon to be accepted as a member of the Union of Artists. But the former boxer was heartbroken.
KOKURIN Valery Grigorievich (1930–2019) Drying the laundry. 1976. Oil on cardboard. 50 × 75
Valery Kokurin is the patriarch of the Vladimir school. With his own recognizable style. “Drying the laundry” is a very Russian, folk work. With a way of life, with nature, with a touch of melancholy.
FOMIUK Vasily Dmitrievich (1960) The Last Snow. 2018. Oil on canvas. 70 × 89
Vasily Fomiuk is a representative of the young generation of the Vladimir school, the continuer of tradition. Textured manner, a special stroke. He is a very recognizable artist, who is well known to collectors. We have noticed that visitors are quick to catch a glimpse of his works: “Wow, is that Fomiuk you have?” “Yeah, how do you know?”
“The Last Snow” is a selected collector's piece that embodies all the basic principles of the Vladimir school: the emphasis on color, conciseness of outlines, and everything else is a credit to the beauty of Russian nature.
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