SEVERE AND STYLISH

Art of the Long Sixties
13.III.2020 – 22.V.2020
This exhibition is a logical continuation of the 'Exhumation' project, which introduced Odesa Fine Arts Museum visitors to the Socialist-Realist art in its collection.

'Exhumation' concluded with a departure from social realism in the form of the 'Art of the Thaw' (from the time of Krushchev), which provided an escape from the ideological and aesthetic dogmas of Stalin's grand style, replacing them with so-called 'small themes' — the rehabilitation of the ordinary and the everyday, the de-romanticizing of heroic characters, who ceased to be the bearers, in microcosm, of collective heroism, and were instead depicted through personal experiences. The intermediate condition of this 'Soviet Biedermeier' style contrasted the austerity of the 'builder of the ideal world' with the human right to personal happiness, which in Stalin's time had been considered 'bourgeois'.

Artistic style evolved at this time from the dogmatic, post-Itinerant realism of 'depicting life in the forms of life itself' towards 'lyrical impressionism', with an emphasis on coloristic sophistication and the supremacy of the picturesque. The Art of the Thaw was a transitional episode from socialist realism to the 'Severe style', so aptly named by Oleksandr Kamenskyi, who defined the Soviet art of the 1960s.
NOTICE: please, start the tour on your left side, clockwise.
Social realism was officially declared to be realisable 'not by style but by method', which emancipated the artistic language of a whole generation of artists, creating the opportunity for formal innovations, and allowing a return to the abandoned traditions of modernism and the avant-garde.
In these modern times, artists are no longer looking to depict an already-achieved prosperity, but rather the process of its accomplishment, requiring participation, silent perseverance, and achievement, from their contemporaries, and from the artists themselves — direct and truthful expression. Strict romanticism becomes the mantra of the Sixties generation. To the traditional ideal of sophistication in artistic works, they prefer conciseness and concentration, compositions which unfold outward, towards the viewer, the impressiveness of large, generalized forms in the foreground, the expressiveness of graphic silhouettes, and large planes of color. Artists turn to the modelling of volume in color, to employing thick masses of paint, to the Cezanne-style techniques of the pre-revolutionary avant-garde, and to the techniques of monumental art. An idealized, 'futurological' artistic reality is replaced by exacting judgments about the reality of today.
Gradually, 'plot' action, which hitherto determined the meaning and revealed the character of the hero, is replaced by an 'eventless' principle of composition. The form of the picture is governed by the situation of the characters in their environment. Painting tends to a static and plastic integrity of form. The narrative pictorial course changes, and the dominant role is taken by the historical atmosphere, the emotional tone of the era. This new movement is presented in the exhibition by late works of the founders of the 'Severe style': Viktor Ivanov, Petro Ossovskyi, Mykola Andronov, and their near, but nevertheless independent, colleagues, Andriy Mylnikov, Dmytro Zhilinskyi, Anatoliy Nikych.
In addition to the futuristic enthusiasm of exploring virgin lands and outer space, in addition to the revolutionary heroics of the series of anniversary dates of the Soviet calendar, the Sixties also show renewed interest in national artistic traditions. Ukrainian masters turn to the pictorial practices of the inter-war wave of national revival, drawing inspiration from folk art, and it is here that a taste for primitives develops. This Ukrainian 'severe style' is represented at the exhibition by Tetiana Yablonska's canvases with her folklore motifs, and in the canvas of Mykhailo Antonchyk, 'My Teachers', which declare the continuity of experience of the Ukrainian avant-garde.
Most of the names represented in the exhibition are masters of the Odesa school of painting. Unlike the Moscow or Kyiv 'Severe' artists, who could be said to be 'artists without Paradise', Odesa artists sought, and found, their Paradise in the impressions of childhood, in the revivified emotions of post-war youth, in smear and color, and most importantly — in the eye-dazzling, iridescent reflections of the sea. Odesa artists rethought the colorful heritage of the South Russian school and rediscovered the forgotten Odesa 'Independents'. This can be seen most strikingly in the works presented in the exhibition by Oleksandr Atsmanchuk, Yuriy Egorov, Viacheslav Tokarev, Volodymyr Vlasov, Oleksii Popov, and Mykhailo Todorov, as well as their immediate successors, Svyatoslav Bozhyi, Orest Sleshinsky, and Adolf Loza.
In the second, stagnant half of the sixties, the mood changes. Artists begin to avoid big topics, to go into formal explorations, into the stillness of a still life, into the privacy of a self-portrait. The creativity of the earlier leaders of the new, big style loses the optimistic enthusiasm of open, bright colors, and becomes smaller-scale, adopting an austerity of gloomy color. Linear canvas is replaced by small boards.

At this time in Odesa, Oleksandr Atsmanchuk, who had difficulty surviving the crushing criticism of his cubist work, 'Flight', was turning to contemplative stylization in the spirit of the old masters, and Yuriy Egorov rejected "plot" painting, in favour of the motif of 'girls by the sea'. But their searches gave impetus to a new generation of Odesa artists, who soon formed the core of what was to become Odesa non-conformism. The exhibition concludes with early works by Oleksandr Anufriyev, Valeriy Basanets, Valentin Khrushch, Lyudmyla Yastreb, Viktor Maryniuk, Moisei Chereshnia, Volodymyr Strelnikov.
And this opens the doorway which leads away from the 'severe' style. In a few years, these artists will open a new chapter in the history of Odesa art, where 'fluctuations in the Party line' will no longer affect the paths of their development. The 'second wave of the avant-garde' in Odesa will develop its own code of non-participation in Soviet officialdom — by means of apartment exhibitions and self-publication during the Brezhnev stagnation. But that's another story.
The exhibition is organized with the support of the Mayor of Odesa
Hennadii Trukhanov
PARTNERS
The exhibition includes artworks from the collections of the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Modern Art of Odesa, the Odesa Local Lore and History Museum, the Grekov Odesa Art School, NT-ART Gallery, private collections of Borys Muzaliov, Oleksandr Roytdurd, Valeriy Basanets, Viktor Maryniuk, Anatoliy Gankevych, Ievhen Shcherbina and families of Borysov, Vernik, Vyrodov-Wilstein, Mykhailov-Bozhyi, Shevchuk.
PREVIEW OF THE EXHIBITION
Нд, Пн, Ср, Чт 10:30–17:30
Пт, Сб 11:30–19:00
ВІВТОРОК ВИХІДНИЙ