During the UK-Russia Year of Culture, many of London’s art galleries have invited Russian artists to exhibit in their spaces.  This year London audiences have had the chance to experience the works of Malevich and Borisov, amongst others. In line with this creative influx of Soviet art is the upcoming exhibition of Oleg Tselkov’s work at Alon Zakaim Fine Art, a gallery based in Dover Street, at the heart of London’s Mayfair district.  This major exhibition of Tselkov’s works is called Alter Ego and will be running between 17th October and 28th November.

Alon Zakaim is the owner of Alon Zakaim Fine Art, a gallery that usually presents impressionist and modern masters. Zakaim says: ‘Oleg is one of the most important twentieth century artists coming from Russia and I feel his work is undervalued; despite having such art of historical importance there is great scope for further development of his market. Alongside this, his paintings are visually stunning and instantly recognisable. Personally I would say Portrait with Mask is one of my favourite pieces. His work is very much about identity, which is reflected in this composition, and the colours he uses in the work are extremely subtle.’ tselkov_-_face_with_hands__med_res_rgb__thumb_435

This exhibition is particularly unique as it also serves as a celebration of the year of the artist’s 80th birthday.  However, Tselkov says that he has never ‘written pieces for a particular show’. ‘Since the 1960s’, he states, ‘I have been painting the same piece, getting deeper and deeper into the topic of a person and eternity’, highlighting that the topic of eternal life and humanity is the topic for all his exhibitions. Tselkov describes his work as different from works of other artists of his genre because they are ‘instantly recognisable and have a unique topic’.

The master has always been individualistic in his approach, inspired by already ‘started paintings and white canvases awaiting their turn’. He has always felt that even in the company of his colleagues and friends, he was the lone wolf. During the Soviet era, anyone who did not stay shoulder to shoulder with the regime (‘follow foot in foot’ in Russian) was seen as a rebel. All the artists from the 1960s were rebel provocateurs in the eyes of the government. Oleg’s first ever show in 1966 was deemed as ideologically unacceptable by the KGB. Eleven years after that, Tselkov felt it best to move to Paris, in France. The artist currently lives and works in a split level studio in the Champagne region.  Throughout his life, his paintings have stayed constant, remaining unaffected by the variety in lifestyle and political regime.

Tselkov’s favourite painter is Van Gogh, the artist feels that Van Gogh ‘was made honest by God and was not taught how to lie’. Tselkov’s work is focused on faces that belong to anyone, everyone and yet none, highlighting common archetypes. Tselkov’s colours are not uniform – he uses both the monochromatic pallet (Mirror, 2009) and contrasting bright colours (Cards, 1999) with equal grace. The symbols involved in the pieces remind the viewer of productivity (the spade and knife). Tselkov’s work was recognised by many, including Russia’s genius poet Joseph Brodsky who saw Tselkov as ‘the most remarkable artist of the post-war period’. Tselkov, whose work has been presented in galleries across the globe, deserves this wide recognition – both for his talent and ingenuity – in return for the expulsion from Russia and the general mistreatment of apparently ‘ideologically unsuitable’ artists by the Soviet government.

 

Sources:

Read more about Tselkov  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Tselkov

Check out Alon Zakaim Fine Art gallery http://www.alonzakaim.com/