Review 1 1994

MOSCOW PRESS – April 1994
Sergei Avksentevich  KOLYADA paints Moscow and France

“The Look of the Old Houses” by Vladimir PAVLOV, journalist 

The “great period” did not hurt him too deeply, it did not “finish him in one blow”, it did not let him rot in camps… Sergei Kolyada studied at the “Vhutemas-Vhutein” under Shterenberg, Guerassimov, Drevine and before this, he often frequented Krymov’s studio. Following the example of his teachers, he wanted to become a “leftist” artist, and his hopes were realised. He joined the leftist association OST (Society of Easel Artists) painting portraits and still-lives with a decorative approach, using large, thick and saturated patches of colours. On the canvas, his models assert their presence for ever, and the bunches of flowers have also found the equivalent of an eternal youth.

The end of his studies coincided with the end of the OST and of the leftist painters generally. As we know, they were among the victims of the historical decision from the 23rd of April 1932. Out of place, Kolyada had nothing to do with “the right,” his heart did not belong there.

Therefore, for many years, he did paint on order, not only to make a living but because he could not live without painting.

Then, it was the beginning of the sixties. Kolyada started to organise what he acknowledged as being one of his most important duties. One day, he noticed how the vestiges of old Moscow were disappearing and this fact deeply distressed him. So it was the beginning of a series of paintings devoted to old Moscow. They were a particular realisation, neither real landscapes, nor street scenes, but true portraits of houses. Kolyada’s look penetrates them with attention and sympathy for he knows of their ultimate fate. He paints not only well known monuments or celebrated ensembles of houses; but he also paints simple streets or anonymous houses, and, even, sometimes, a quiet, poorly known street.

For him, to simply paint a portrait of a house seems insufficient; instead he supplies for each of them a unique biography, only he can succeed in providing, for he has researched everything about it. He knows the architect, the landlord, the building’s function and the lives of its inhabitants during the last century. Something which rarely exists in an artist’s work, Sergei Kolyada was also deeply interested in the lives of the houses depicted in his paintings.  Therefore, every one of them acquires for eternity the authenticity of a document as well as that of a monument.

Ten years after the old Moscow exhibition, the artist’s life took an unusual turn.  In the following years, he spent some time in foreign countries – Australia and France. It is sometimes difficult for a painter to work in new and unknown areas. Yet, Kolyada commented on this new experience in these terms:

I have had the impression that after a long absence, I was back in places I had already known”.

He lived for a while in Etretat, a French seaside town favoured by some impressionists. As usual, he painted houses and trees with sunny tones, finding the right way to faithfully express new harmonies.

All his life, Kolyada has painted portraits – looking alike and filled with the subject’s life and personality. His self portraits allow us to appreciate the changes that occurred in the artist’s own life and show us how he essentially stayed true to himself.

In particular, the self portrait of the ageing artist demonstrates how he kept the clever and tenacious look of the Vhutemas student.

At the moment, at the Central House of the Artist, works by Kolyada, early and recent are part of a retrospective exhibition organised with the help of French friends.

Vladimir Pavlov, Journalist,
April, May 1994, Central House of the Artist, Krimsky-Val, Moscow

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