Lot 30
  • 30

Vladimir Ovchinnikov, b.1941

18,000 - 25,000 GBP
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  • Vladimir Ovchinnikov
  • Before the celebration, after the celebration
  • diptych, both signed in Cyrillic and dated 85 l.l.; both signed and titled in Cyrillic and dated 1985 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • each 100 by 50cm., 39½ by 19¾in.

Catalogue Note

The work of Vladimir Ovchinnikov, one of the founders of the unofficial art movement in Leningrad, provides the viewer with a striking artistic interpretation of absurdity.
His work for the Mariinsky (Kirov) theatre as an assistant to the artist Kirill Kustodiev proved to be an important grounding for Ovchinnikov's development as an artist. His exaggerated forms, emphasised by sharp contrasts of light and dark and combinations of angular and round shapes are reminiscent of stage design in their three dimensionality. 
The title of the work Before and After the Celebration suggests a change, however contrary to the viewers' expectations, the artist shows that nothing has essentially happened. In fact, the only difference between Before and After is the barely perceptible change in lighting. As such, this painting evokes a certain feeling of pessimism: the worker installing and dismantling the decorations expresses no emotions and the fact that his movements are exactly the same suggest that, for him, it is a routine job. By painting two almost identical works, Ovchinnikov conveys the absurdity of the situation.
However, as Michael Guerman, chief curator of the Contemporary Art department of the Russian Museum has commented, 'Vladimir Ovchinnikov is by no means pessimistic, but he is not inclined to come quickly from grief to joy either. And his art does not proceed from despair to hope - it progresses towards cognition and refined craftsmanship'. Ovchinnikov's paintings demonstrate the philosophic views and deep insight which have always been characteristic of the artist's oeuvre.