KRASNOPEVTSEV Dmitry Mikhailovich (1925–1995) Wood, cross, stones. Landscape. 1964. Oil on hardboard. 44 × 38.5
What do we remember about Krasnopevtsev? This is a special artist — an artist outside the era. According to his quiet philosophical still lifes, no historian can determine that outside is the USSR, the time of “developed socialism”, all around are propaganda slogans and hypocritical films calling for the fight. And you will never think that the author of these inspired paintings works in the Soviet “Reklamfilm”, while he himself dreams of France, is friends with Svyatoslav Richter and George Kostaki and creates works that collectors will hunt for in 50 years.
A master of metaphysical still life, Krasnopevtsev today remains one of the most expensive and sought-after artists in the frame of unofficial art. Recall that his auction record was set in 2006 and at that time was almost a million dollars.
And now any words are superfluous: before us is the exemplary Krasnopevtsev of the most valuable period, 1964, published in the three-volume edition by Alexander Ushakov.
Krasnopevtsev's works at auctions and exhibitions attract attention, are a source of pride, and sometimes a false impression is created that a lot of the artist's works have survived. No, that's not true at all. The artist worked painstakingly and slowly. And there are only about 500 paintings painted after 1963 (those that belong to a particularly valuable period). And there are even fewer masterpieces of them. So any high-quality item that gets to the auction is a find, an event. And even more so published, of clear origin, and with an exhibition history.
LEONOV Pavel Petrovich (1920–2011) Africa. Canvas, oil. 71 × 97
Pavel Leonov is a self-taught artist, what is called an “interior” artist. He began to study painting after 50, at a correspondence institute, where Mikhail Roginsky was his correspondence teacher. And before that, there was a lot in Leonov's life. Collective farm childhood, prison camps, front, colony, pick-up works in the North. A man of difficult fate. Recognition came to Leonov late, when the artist was under 80. Specialists and connoisseurs of naive art drew attention to his special style, the beauty of fantasy plots. On our canvas, Leonov and his wife Zina ended up in Africa, in the fictional village of Leonovo. To a happy country where power plants and schools are being built, and unafraid zebras are watching all this splendor. According to Leonov's plan, what is happening is not only a fairy tale, but also a practical tip to architects and engineers on how to build an ideal village.
It should be noted that both for those who appreciate Leonov's work and for those who are getting to know him for the first time, today is an exceptionally favorable moment. Until February 14, 2021, a retrospective “Through the Looking Glass of Pavel Leonov” is being held at the Museum of Modern Art on Petrovka 25.
Part of the exposition is reserved for the works of the artist's teacher, Mikhail Roginsky. A new documentary about the life and work of Pavel Leonov is also shown there.
PIVOVAROV Viktor Dmitrievich (1937) Want some tea? 1988. Oil on canvas on hardboard. 61 × 76
If you do not immediately understand what is depicted, then do not worry. This is exactly what was intended. The artist loves understatement. According to the classic of Moscow conceptualism, the viewer himself should enjoy deciphering “open pictures”. These are a kind of charades that do not have an unambiguous clear interpretation. There may be several “clues” in them, and all will be correct. A good picture should indicate intent, but it shouldn't be full.
Let us remind you that Viktor Pivovarov is the artist of the circle or group of Sretensky Boulevard, which included Kabakov, Yankilevsky, Sooster and others. A recognized and expensive artist. His auction record is $ 251,000.
ZELENINE Edouard Leonidovitch (1938–2002) On the hook. Hardboard, oil. 49 × 46.5
An entire chapter is devoted to the surrealist Edouard Zelenine in the book “The Leftists” by artist Valentin Vorobyov. It is called “An artist without a permanent residence”. And it begins with a story about the youth of an agile Siberian who jumped over a fence and sold his drawings to visitors to an American exhibition in Moscow. Yes, such milestones of creative destiny. Zelenine is not from the capitals, but from Novokuznetsk. He was inspired to move to Leningrad and then to Moscow by the sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, who worked in Sverdlovsk, and with whom he became friends. Since the late 1960s Zelenine has exhibited in the Moscow cafe “Blue Bird”. He took part in the 1974 bulldozer exhibition on his own initiative, came straight from the railway station, brought his painting as a “self-promoted”. But after the permitted Izmailovo exhibition, he was awarded a separate “press”. Here is what “Evening Moscow” wrote about him: “In a forest glade in Izmailovo, a viewing of the works of so-called modernist artists took place recently... Zelenine's Swallowtail Butterfly: the Pokrovsky Monastery in Suzdal is depicted in a primitive manner, and at the bottom of the canvas there is a huge painted butterfly, like a picture from Brem. ...On that Sunday, the myth of "unrecognized talents" created by Western propaganda was dispelled. The king was naked. The modernists were brought out to the public, and they exposed themselves in all squalor, because as a phenomenon of art, the works of modernists look simply frivolous. ...When you analyze most of the works, you involuntarily come to the conclusion about the spiritual crisis of their authors, or, rather, a certain intention of them, which is dictated by a hostile attitude towards reality, towards Russian national culture”.
Where could an artist like Zelenine exhibit in the USSR? At apartment exhibitions, in embassies, in the houses of culture of physicists, in youth cafes. This was the limit. In 1976 Zelenine left for France. There he had several successful personal exhibitions. In Europe and the United States, Alexander Glezer began to regularly exhibit his paintings as part of the exhibitions of his Museum of Russian Contemporary Art in Exile. In 1988, after the beginning of Perestroika, Zelenine was invited to a personal exhibition in Novokuznetsk. A year later, the USSR Post issued a stamp with his painting “Lady in the Hat”... It would seem that the trajectory was correct. But no. In the 1990s, Zelenine's career was in decline. The number of exhibitions in Europe was decreasing. In 2002, at the age of 64, Zelenine passed away. Valentin Vorobyov wrote that the artist took a lethal dose of sleeping pills. Zelenine did not live less than 10 years before a new surge of interest in his work and a second discovery in his homeland. And before the auction record too. It was installed in 2010: the painting “Leida avec une pomme” was sold for $ 45,000.
KUPER Yuri Leonidovich (1940) Spoon. 1989. Metal, oil, silver, wood, scratching. 33.5 × 33.5
Before us is an exemplary Kuper — his just “calling card”. This is a “flat installation”, a metaphysical painting on metal. The sixties Yuri Kuper is an artist of the old school and old formation. His favorite artists are Leonardo, Fra Angelico, Titian. Kuper himself is a fully Renaissance man. He is not only an artist, but also a poet, author of architectural projects and a theatrical scenographer. Kuper left the USSR at the earliest opportunity, in 1972. He worked in England, France, America. In recent years, he has spent a lot of time in Russia, working on major projects. He has created the design concepts for synagogues, temples, theaters.
PURYGIN Leonid Anatolyevich (1951–1995) Crucifixion. 1994. Pencil on paper. 42.5 × 30.5
“Lenya Purygin the Genius from Nara” — under this name, under this signature the majority of connoisseurs of painting know “Russian Bosch”. It is believed that this fabulous world was born in the mind of the artist after experiencing clinical death (at the age of 18 he opened his veins). It is not known for certain what happened then. But already in 1972, at 21, the artist created paintings-stories “Summer in Nara” and others in that unmistakable style, which he did not change for the rest of his life. And he was given very little time — Purygin died of a heart attack at the age of 44. Before us is his hospital drawing — “The Crucifixion” — a plot in which he often portrayed himself. Purygin's drawings are rare in themselves. He made them in places where there was no access to paints and canvases. Where he was treated. Therefore, these things are special. More than heartfelt. Drawn in the moments when a person concentrates on the main thing, and all the secondary fades into the background.
KAZARIN Viktor Semenovich (1948) Chance. 2013. Canvas, collage, acrylic. 100 × 80
Most people know Kazarin as a powerful neo-expressionist. But I am sure that few have seen such a conceptual, “object” Kazarin. Although the card theme appeared in his work forty years ago. I saw with my own eyes his black decks of 1981, still from the city committee, from Malaya Gruzinskaya. The works are powerful and decorative. And a few years ago, the artist briefly returned to this topic. In the 2010s, Kazarin painted a new card cycle, rethought. There were different things in it, some more philosophical, some more metaphysical. And before us is one of the best. Everything is here: the cards, the goal, and the broken circle as a symbol of the exit. And it is well named — “Chance”. Correct, life-affirming work for our difficult times.
Two words about Viktor Kazarin for the recruits of the Secret Society of Art Lovers. A rebel, easily making enemies for himself, a member of the city committee group “21” (Zverev, Vologzhanin, Bordachev, Naumets were also there). Kazarin is one of the few to whom the police were summoned and expelled from the city committee “for behavior”. In the 1990s, the artist founded his own group, “Hammer”. In his life, there were ups with an exhibition of 600 paintings in the Manege, and years of actual seclusion in his beloved Ferapontovo, and a return to Moscow in the 2000s. But today we can already say that Kazarin is one of the brightest artists of the generation of the “city committee” of the seventies. He is one of those young and daring artists from Malaya Gruzinskaya, free from the blinders of socialist realism, not recognizing false authorities and choosing their own track.