SITNIKOV Vasily Yakovlevich (1915–1987) Glezer and Lyuba (Portrait of Alexander Glezer and Lyubov Brooks). 1982. Oil on canvas. 61 × 122.5
Vasily Yakovlevich Sitnikov is a legend of unofficial art of the thaw era. His nickname Vasya the Lanternman is due to the fact that he worked on a projector for showing transparencies at the Surikov Institute. A virtuoso artist who was able to paint a picture with a broom or a floor brush was actually self-taught or a person of natural gifts (whoever you like). He painted beautifully and kept a whole “academy” of his students. By the way, one of Sitnikov's students was Vladimir Titov, whose drawing will also be at our auction.
Who is depicted in the portrait of Sitnikov? Right. One of the main voices of unofficial art and ambassadors of the underground abroad. Underground romantic Alexander Glezer. It was thanks to Glezer that an exhibition took place in the Druzhba club on the Enthusiasts Highway, which was immediately closed by the Chekists. He was also among the organizers of the Bulldozer Exhibition. An engineer of a secure enterprise — it would seem, why did not he live in peace? He dodged, cheated the censors, broke through tickets, and broke the system of prohibitions. Later it was Glezer who held many exhibitions of “Russian art in exile”, thanks to which the Western public was able to see Zverev, Rabin, Belenok and other artists. Glezer was a true enthusiast. Sometimes too much. In particular, he is reproached for heroizing the biographies of artists. For example, Nemukhin often had to refute that he was kicked out of institutions for politics. In fact, there was no such fact — it was invented by Glezer. Luba pictured next to Glezer is Lyubov Brooks, executive secretary of The Third Wave anthology, published by Glezer in Paris in the 1980s.
BELENOK Petr Ivanovich (1938–1991) Suddenly. 1984. Thick glossy paper, ink, collage, author's technique. 63 × 90
Another, it would seem, well-arranged person in the USSR, who “did not live”. He exchanged a well-fed life in the provinces for Moscow basement poverty and creative freedom. Suddenly is a classic example of panic realism. There is everything here: tension hanging in the air, phobias, an awkward figure, and Dovlatov's “hell is ourselves”.
ZVEREV Anatoly Timofeevich (1931–1986) Owls. 1962. Paper, gouache. 60 × 84
The most valuable period. 1962. This gouache was in the collection of the French conductor and composer Igor Markevich, who worked with Diaghilev, Serge Lifar, was a hero of the Resistance and a friend of the Soviet Union. It was Markevich who told and showed Zverev's works in the West. According to legend, in order to arrange an exhibition of Zverev in Paris in 1965, he locked the artist in the Moscow “Metropol” so that he would not be “distracted”. “Owls” is an exemplary Zverev of a museum level, with expertise, and even in an excellent design.
BORDACHEV Sergey Mikhailovich (1948) Abstract composition. 1977. Cardboard, author's technique. 73 × 70
Remember in the training videos we told you that there are works for emotional purchases, there are investment ones, and there are collectible ones for connoisseurs? So here we have just a thing for connoisseurs. It does not have external data for an emotional purchase (this is when “cool, cute — that's what I bought”). You can't call it pretty. You can't decorate a living room like that. It is also not suitable for investment purposes — this requires a format that is addressed to a wide range of buyers. But for sophisticated collectors who already have everything, there is something to look at. Sergey Bordachev. 1977. Three years after the Bulldozer Exhibition in which he participated.
Sergey Bordachev is self-taught. He is a car mechanic by training. But art won. There is evidence that his friend Anatoly Zverev encouraged him to become an artist. Before the appearance of the Gorkom (City Committee) of graphic artists on Malaya Gruzinskaya, Bordachev exhibited only at apartment exhibitions (at Sychev's and others). And after 1977 the Gorkom became his home — an oasis of unofficial art. There Bordachev exhibited with Zverev, Kazarin, other artists of the group 21. He was engaged in painting, graphics and sculptural reliefs. And he is still doing it. The artist is alive and well, working. Still gravitates towards biomorphic abstraction. And our picture of 1977 is not just biomorphic, but anthropomorphic Bordachev. Rock paintings of a Soviet cave.
BIELUTIN Ely Mikhailovich (1925–2011) Figure. 1970. Oil on canvas. 130 × 80
“Bielutin Studio”. It was under this name that an artistic association, or rather a cultural phenomenon, which arose under the leadership of Ely Mikhailovich Bielutin in the mid-1950s, entered the Other Art reference book. Bielutin had the courage to propose a creative method completely different from socialist realism. Under the auspices of advanced training courses, he created conditions for the creative act of liberation, flight. He came up with a theory of universal contact — the essence of a psychological technique for reconciling a person with the world around him. Like-minded people were drawn to Belyutin. First, on the basis of the Polygraphic Institute, where he taught. Then a circle of dozens of people formed, regular exhibitions began, creative trips on steamers, and so on. And Bielutin's group became known as the New Reality studio. The line-up of the participants changed. Independent people could not get along with an authoritarian leader for a long time. It was hard to grow up in the shadow of Bielutin. But some of the artists we know well today were once Belyutin's studios. For example, Boris Zhutovsky, Vladislav Zubarev, Igor Snegur. Zhutovsky and Snegur participated in the famous Taganskaya exhibition of the Studio. And from there they got to Manezh-62, where the abstract artists were defeated by Khrushchev. Natta Konysheva was a student of Bielutin at the Polygraphic Institute. These are only those names that immediately pop up in memory.
Ely Bielutin himself was an outstanding person. He entered the Surikov Institute after the front, discharged after a severe concussion. His teachers were Lentulov and Kuznetsov. He inherited and increased the mystical collection of world art, where Titian, Rubens and others were. Many people say they are real. This wealth is still kept in the apartment where his widow Nina Moleva lives and which is guarded at the state level. He knew how to be friends. Visitors to Bielutin's evenings at Rusakovskaya street were Robert Falk, George Kostaki, and many intellectuals. At the same time, he managed to get along well with the authorities. At least for the time being. Because the end result was still harassment. But he managed to complete his mission. Thanks to Bielutin, many talented people, in conditions of tough socialist realism, found the courage to become what they were destined to be. They chose the thankless path of creative independence. And Ely Bielutin himself did not dissolve in his project solely as an organizer. He entered the history of Russian unofficial art as a bright original abstractionist.
SNEGUR Igor Grigorievich (1935) Flower and seed. 2005. Oil on canvas. 100 × 100
The correct pronunciation is not Snégur, but Snegúr — with the emphasis on the last syllable. At the beginning of his creative career, he was also a student of Bielutin. As part of the Bielutin Studio, he participated in an exhibition at Taganka, and then at the Manezh in 1962. But, as often happens with real artists, he did not want to work in the shadow of the teacher, he left, chose his own path.
In 1975, together with Nemukhin, Krasnopevtsev and all the first names of unofficial art, he participated in an exhibition at the Beekeeping Pavilion at VDNKh. The people stood in lines, and “Vechernyaya Moskva” responded with a review “Vanguard of philistinism”. Quote: “Most of the works are just a slavish repetition of those discoveries or experiments of a formal order that have been in Russian and European art over the past 75–80 years”.
An important role in the life of Snegur was played by the City Committee of Graphic Art on Malaya Gruzinskaya — a reservation of Indians of unofficial art on the lands of victorious socialist realism. I didn’t know, but it turns out that it was Snegur who was the organizer of the City Committee “Twenty” — a group of “20 Moscow Artists”. It was not a specialized, but a universal group, consisting of representatives of various trends — both surrealists and abstractionists, in all the diversity of the spectrum. Twenty has held 11 exhibitions. Over the years, Evgeny Izmailov, Petr Belenok, Konstantin Khudyakov, Vyacheslav Kalinin, Sergei Simakov, Alexander Kharitonov, Semyon Faibisovich have exhibited as part of the “twenty”.
The audience got up in line, and “Soviet culture” burst out with a review “Relying on aesthetic ignorance”. Quote (I love Soviet reviews): “Looking at the exhibitions of the City Committee of Graphic Artists, you understand that the main thing here is the aestheticization of vulgarity, anti-artistic consumer goods, addressed to an undeveloped, undemanding taste. ... It is these ailments that the works of I. Snegur suffer, in which the amorphousness of the image acts as the reverse side of professional helplessness”. Awesome! As soon as the tongue turned?! But history puts everything in its place. Soviet power has sunk into oblivion along with many masters of socialist realism. And the unofficial art remained. Sidur, Belenok, Kalinin, Kharitonov — in all the splendor of the “amorphous image” and “professional helplessness”.
ZUBAREV Vladislav Konstantinovich (1937–2013) Ethics of human relations. 1998. Oil on canvas. 146 × 100
Vladislav Zubarev also started in the studio “New Reality” with Bielutin. Then he left. In the 1980s he founded his own studio, Temporal Reality. As the name suggests, the philosophy of the time became the basis of his concept. Time distorted and outraged. The relationship between moment and eternity. The artist is interested in various temporary constructions, experiments, cognition issues.
Our gigantic one and a half-meter work of 1998 is part of the “Involuntary Ethics” polyptych, which once consisted of eight such paintings. Zubarev's favorite philosophy again: ethics as a discipline exploring morality and rectitude. And, perhaps, our part is the most important and most complex in the broken polyptych. For it is called: “Ethics of Human Relations”. Conceptual, charged thing. Exactly the same Zubarev, whom we love and appreciate.
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