Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Russian Painters

Ilya Repin (1884-1930)

I was inspired to look at Russian Painters on the web because I had a book, in Russian, with some wonderful figure painting and portraits of people with extremely expressive features and strong painting and I wanted to find out who it was.  By a process of elimination (the Russian alphabet is Cyrillic) I eventually worked out the name of the artist.  It was none other than Ilya Repin (1884-1930).  His portraits rival those of Rembrand’s self portraits, in my opinion. There are one or two paintings that have the draughtsmanship skills of Degas.


There is a gutsy feel to the figures he paints and you can read the individual expressions and personalities with no difficulty.  He paints pathos, The Barge Haulers on the Volga being one of his moving paintings.  The Unexpected Return is one of the paintings that reminds me of an early Degas. His undoubted oeuvre is portrait painting.  He is an artist painting on a monumental scale.  The Reply of the Zaporozhian, is an example of this.  The Repin Institute, The Leningrad School introduced other painters to his style.

Alexander Mikhailovich Semionov (1922-1984)

Semionov paints landscapes in an interesting way, his colours are bright, yet muted at the same time, a bit like Van Gogh, he paints in patches of colour sometimes with detail sometimes not, his style is very fluid and there is a great sense of movement and light, somewhere between the Fauves and Impressionists. He is from the Leningrad School.


I really like his work, there is something about his palette, which is different and I can’t put m finger on it.  Perhaps it is because he uses earth colours which are often missing from Impressionist work and the artists they later influenced.  I know that Kandinsky became a professor in Russia at one stage but I am not sure where.  I would love to have been able to include paintings in this blog but the link is above.

Michail Evstafiev (1963-   )

An artist and photograph, Evstafiev is a sort of Russian Jackson Pollock come Gerhardt Richter.  He is also a photographer as well as painter and was inspired by his sculpting lineage.  He spent time in Afghanistan and has written about the Russian campaign and now lives in Vienna, and has also become a writer. His urban compositions are a fusion of realism and abstraction, and I shall certainly be looking at his work when we come to explore Abstraction.

Lev Russov, (1926 – 1988)

Another interesting portrait painter particularly  in his later period, typical of the exploratory human condition exemplified by Russian artists.  He studied at the Repin Institute.

Vladimir Baranov-Rossine 1902–1903

A perepetetic Cubo-Futurist with a complex origin, Russian, French, Jewish. He develops military camouflage techniques, an optochphonic piano which plays colour,  and invents a fizzy drinks machine.  His work is equally interesting, exploring Futurism and Cubism combined. Sadly, Baranov-Rossiné moves to France and because of his heritage is deported to a concentration camp where he dies.


Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938)

I have rounded off my brief exploration of some Russian painters by looking at Marianne von Werefkin who was taught by Repin.   She damaged her right hand in a hunting accident and took sometime to recover but then reached perfection in realist painting giving her the reputation of a “Russian Rembrandt”, inevitable after studying under Repin I would say.  She met Alexej von Jawlensky with whom she had a child.  She painted with Kandinsky and Munter and became part of the der Blauer Reiter school formed by Kandinsky and Marc.  Her work is very strong and bears the hallmark of the artists from that school, as well as  Max Pechstein, and I can see some of the sweeping curves of Kirchner in her work. Rote Stadt painted in 1909, is an electrifying piece of work.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marianne_von_Werefkin_-_Rote_Stadt_1909.jpg

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