Georgy Gurianov was a famous artist and musician, a St Petersburg dandy and personality, who became the embodiment of a new era — the era of change. In the 1980s, the legendary 'Gustav' was drummer and music arranger in the band Kino
, a performing member of Sergei Kuryokhin’s Popular Mechanics Orchestra
, one of the leaders of the New Artists movement conceived by Timur Novikov. In the 1990s, he became an honorary professor at the New Academy of Fine Arts, the manager and inspiration behind the first Russian raves.
Gurianov started by colouring photographs of himself and his band members. He photographed friends then cropped the photographs and coloured them in by hand. This technology allowed the artist to quickly and concisely create a heroic vision of the members of the cult group that gave rise to a new aesthetic in the USSR. Portraits of rock stars painted with aniline paints, resting on the beach, staring blankly at the sky, differed from the photo-based portraits of Andy Warhol, who, incidentally, gave Gurianov a signed jar of Campbell's tomato soup in 1985. In the 1980s Gurianov began to reassess the Soviet art of the 1930s to 1950s and conceived his recognisable style based on the motifs of socialist realism. The protagonists of his paintings are pilots, sailors and athletes.
In the 1990s, Gurianov developed his Neo-academic style, based on Greco-Roman traditions. Behind the beautiful faces of these heroic figures we can discern the features of the artist and his friends. In addition, he produced several self-portraits, and in each his artistic credo is articulated clearly. Despite the differences between them, they are united by an aesthetic that cultivates the perfection of the physical form. The artist’s narcissism was directed in search of an ideal. It is no coincidence that Gurianov said, 'My work of art is, in truth, myself.' This self-portrait was shown at the first exhibition of Neo-academism organised by Timur Novikov which opened on the 7th
April 1991 in the Marble Palace, St Petersburg. This image of the artist as raver and Neo-academician became a popular backdrop for the cinema and photography of the underground.
We are grateful to Dr Olesya Turkina, curator and critic, for providing this catalogue note.