Beyond Appearances – A Painter and his Town

Sergei Avksentevich  KOLYADA

The Artworks of Russian artist Sergei Kolyada are intimately tied to his love for his home town of Moscow where he was a faithful resident for the ninety years of his life. And which he painted for thirty years – as well as landscapes, still lives and portraits, – all with the same superb orchestration of color.

In contrast with the great Delacroix who said the first quality of a painting is the pleasure it gives to one’s eye, the modest Kolyada wished it gives a note of inspiration for the spirit, the essential being to feel some emotion when contemplating the work.

Look at them, listen to the wonderful music of Kolyada’s paintings.

Sergei was born in Moscow in 1907. Admitted as an apprentice when 18 years old to famous artist Nicolai Krymov’s studio, it was a crucial meeting for Kolyada with a master of impression and light which would have an important effect on the Works of Art to come.

Four years of study at the Superior Institute of Arts and Techniques (Vhutemas – Vhutein) under Shterenberg and Guerassimov, opened up a career working in the public service, as a member of the OST (Society of Easel Painters) and with the syndicate of Moscow’s artists, from which he was quickly expelled for “formalism*” like Malevich, Drevine, Filonov and other creators unwilling to accept the norms and dogmas prevailing at that time.

The beginning of Kolyada’s career coincided with the establishment of Soviet Socialist Realism as the only authorized style of art. Prominent artists and writers joined political authorities in declaring that art and literature must depict the “reality of Revolutionary Russia.

Although he was admitted into the Union of Artists and participated in many exhibitions, he did not gain the prestige of colleagues who fulfilled the Party’s plans for realistic Art.

He kept his personal and artistic integrity, perhaps at the expense of lost opportunities for advancement. In 1945, a great number of his early paintings were destroyed in a fire at his parents’ home.

Co-founder of the Society of Painters of the Moscow region and of the Union of Painters of Russia, after the second world war, he participates in a few artistic missions in the “Pouchinsky-Gory” region (which inspired Pouchkine) and in the kolkhozes of the Moscow’s region during the 1950’s.

In the sixties, he started painting the landscapes of his old Moscow, a long and patient work of which he willingly and passionately continued for over 30 years.

Then, the oldest member of the Union of Artists of Russia, Kolyada travels, paints, and exhibits outside the URSS, in Australia first, then in France, at Etretat, Paris, Angers and Dinard, in his last years.

He died in Moscow at the ripe old age of eighty nine years.

Besides a great number of group exhibitions, Kolyada’s long career is marked by important personal exhibitions in prestigious locations like the Tretiakov Gallery, the Krimsky-Val Gallery, the Glinka Museum, or famous like the exhibition at Moscow’s City Hall for the 850th Anniversary of Moscow foundation.

Three important Moscow Museums are holding a dozen of Kolyada’s works acquired when the artist was still alive: The State Tretiakov Gallery, The Moscow Historical Museum, the Lounatcharsky Museum.

With time, this collection will become essential as a unique and very complete witness of a faithful picture of Old Moscow already disappeared or on the verge of disappearing.

John Louis Eugene 1999

AME Translation 2013

*« Formalism »: Excessive attention to form over subject matter.

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