Sunday, June 12, 2011

Vladimir Ivanovich Ovchinnikov or Art through the eyes of Russia

Oh am I glad to be back and see there is been some interest shown over the weekend.
Strangely enough even though I was away, I was at a friend's place who had loads of Art magazines. One series was covering artists by movements, by themes and one was doing a theme on Russia.
Now I don't remember who were the names of the artists but I remembered wondering how it must have felt like to be an artist during Lenin time. Artists had to promote the glory of social work and emphasizes the value of human conditions working in mine, farms and family.
That would kind of suck.
I tried to look for it but couldn't it. However I did find a Russian artist whose one painting did remind me of that "imposed" theme.

This was painting in 1975 and even though they say on wikipedia that his style is realist, there is a dream-like  quality about this painting of farmers working on the Volga river.
It nearly makes you wish you were a farmer which everybody knows is an extreme ardous job to do.
He should know better.
Vladimir Ivanovich Ovchinnikov was born in a peasant family in 1911 near the city of Saratov. His mother died when he was 5  and during the war his father worked in a slaughterhouse. So the 3 brothers remained in the care of grandmothers and aunts. Hard luck to be an artist with that start in life right?
Somehow and that's quite surprising to me, he joined the Saratov Art College at 16. Rough background, rough past but no problem there, Mr Ovchinnikov goes to do art. Maybe because he is surrounded by women he manages to influence his aunts and grandmothers and that's what he gets in. Any how,  in 1931, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, when 20, he graduated from Saratov Art College and moved to Leningrad, where he entered the Institute of Proletarian Fine Arts (since 1932 known as Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture).
I wonder how the family get to pay for all this expensive type of studies. On wikipedia, his life is described as if he glided through his life with easiness. He gets a son at 22,  runs a designer in various institutions of Leningrad from 1932 and 1941 at the same time. Simultaneously he engaged in painting and drawing and then as if it was yet another silly little detail, he goes to war from 1941-1945, gets wounded and marked by military awards, and then returned to Leningrad carrying advertising and design orders for the largest shops in the city. At the same time he restores his creative skills that were lost during the war years, many works on nature studies in the city and its suburbs.
I mean, come on! Do you just go like that through your life? With no crisis, no doubt, no problem of any kind? It kinds of bugs me. Yet nine years after the war, he is able to paint very subtle and lyrical type of paintings  like this one:
Evening on the Dnieper River. 1956 -

You can see that the painting is filled with sun and light and quiet very much like the impressionist style.
War is the last thing on your mind when you view this work.
I guess some artists don't get bugged by outside events.

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