Peninsula Gallery Opening Reception ~ Russian Impressionism of the Cold War Era

February 16th, 2019 - 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Opening Reception on Saturday February 16th,  5-7 p.m.
Exhibition continues through March 30th.

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the opening of the Iron Curtain, little was known in the West about Russian artists and their painting.  Inspired by the Communist Party’s utopian ideology, Soviet artists from the Cold War era drew strength from a culture that glorified the common worker and the natural landscape.  Many of them pursued rigorous academic training at the Repin Institute in St Petersburg or the Surikov Institute in Moscow.  At the conclusion of training they were assessed and if good enough, they were sponsored by the government, had a studio, canvas and paint provided for them, and were paid a stipend.  In return they were expected to document the great Soviet experiment.

Although in the early years after the Russian Revolution of 1917 the style of the artists was considered Realist, many of them became influenced by the work of the 19th century French Impressionists, and between the years 1930 – 1980 these artists started to produce work in a more impressionistic way.  They still painted scenes of everyday life but they attacked their canvas with bold brush work, color and a dramatic use of light.  They were not robots producing government propaganda in a mechanical fashion.  Their images were depictions of a vast and beautiful country, and the sturdy people who inhabited it.

Over the years since this work was revealed to a world audience, Western critics have come to realize that this genre represented one of the most significant art discoveries of the 20th century.  We at the Peninsula Gallery are extremely fortunate and proud to be able to bring a small sample of Russian Impressionism to Lewes. The paintings in this show are truly a window on the Russian landscape and the ordinary people who lived in it at that time.

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