The Kaliningrad Painters

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Kaliningrad Art Gallery possesses a representative collection of the Kaliningrad painters’ oeuvre. The permanently renewed collection now numbers over two thousand items.

Kaliningrad art deserves special attention because it has formed under the influence of several very different traditions. After the Second World War new settlers from various, and often quite remote parts of the country were arriving to the Kaliningrad region. For the Post-war generation, the local historical and cultural monuments were associated with Nazism, and therefore were destroyed one by one. The now Russian city Kaliningrad was creating its own culture under the influence of prevailing Soviet ideology. Theartistic idiom of Socialist Realism and the theme of labor became mainstream art in the Kaliningrad region in 1940–1970s.

Valentin Grigoriev. Road. 1971
Valentin Grigoriev
Road. 1971

The artists who came here straight after the war were working along the dominant ideological line, depicting “common people enjoying the daily romanticism of labour”, and builders of communism on the “new land”. This way the artists created the “annals” of the daily life of the Kaliningrad land and the Baltic Sea.

Whatever the genre, the leitmotif of the Kaliningrad painters’ work remained the same — the lives of ordinary people and primarily of those whose job was associated with the sea. Local artists have played a significant role in celebrating Kaliningrad the country of fishermen. They had had plenty of commissions for painting sailors at work. Collecting their material, the artists used to live on fishing farms, to spend their days in the ports; they even went to sea on board fishing boats to the Atlantic. Kaliningrad as a fishing region features in the works of almost all local artists. One of those painters, A. Balabayev, has contributed a lot to the Gallery’s holdings.

Nina Danilenko. Long way home. Sheet I. 1994
Nina Danilenko
Long way home. Sheet I. 1994

The beauty of Kaliningrad nature has always inspired the Kaliningrad painters. A. Karyakin was a superb landscape painter, whose main subject was Man in nature. A dedicated follower of the national school of painting, he never restricted himself to ”pure landscape” in his oeuvre; on the contrary, his landscapes, enriched with the ‘genre’ elements, are always “inhabited” by humans uniting with both divine and man-made nature.

Nadezhda Matveeva. Silence. 1993
Nadezhda Matveeva
Silence. 1993

The collection of the Gallery possesses a lot of canvases by the hand of M. Pyaskovsky, a recognized classic of Kaliningrad painting school. Kaliningraders are well familiar with his name. For years he has been taking part in the exhibitions of all ranks – regional, national and international. The painter has asserted himself as a creator of large-scale paintings, landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. The lyricism of his landscapes and portraiture is aimed at discovering the depths of the individual’s self. M. Pyaskovsky had created a full gallery of his contemporaries’ portraits; they are a true contribution to the history of art. The painter’s talent and his views about the value of human life are all there in his oeuvre.

Nelly Smirnyagina. On the Blacksmiths' Bridge. 2004
Nelly Smirnyagina
On the Blacksmiths' Bridge. 2004

The creative pathos of the epoch never fails to permeate the graphic works, including those done in the most democratic of techniques, the linocut. The local landscapes and the romanticism of the sea became the favoured themes of A. Shevchenko’s work. He had forged his artistic manner under the influence of Russian and Lithuanian schools. He used to wonder around a lot collecting his observations. He met with the sailors, collective farmers and builders, who became the subjects of his pictures and the first visitors of the popular travelling exhibitions.

Nikolay Batakov. Venus. 1996
Nikolay Batakov
Venus. 1996

Portraits, genre compositions, and animalistic sculpture represent the Kaliningrad sculptural oeuvre. The indoor statues by I. Guershburg, M. Duniman, N. Morgunova, V. and S. Andreev are the archetypal pieces of the Soviet art of the period.

The work of L. Ponomareva is an outstanding phenomenon in the art life of Kaliningrad. Graced by true talent and ingenuity in plastic means, she returned monumentality and depth to the sculpture, which was then muddling through a deep crisis.

In the early Noughties the collection of the Museum had acquired the graphics and paintings by N. Danilenko, E. Pechersky, P. Toropov, A. Mashikhina, V. Morozko.

Sergey Tyukanov. Project-2. 1992
Sergey Tyukanov
Project-2. 1992

Local decorative art is best illustrated by the tapestries and panels of N. Smirnyagina, O. Ulyanova, E. Kolomiychenko, N. Matveeva. Apart from traditionally utilizing wool thread and hemp, the artists find ingenious ways to use sisal, rope, monit, horse hair, yarn and linen in their skillfully executed pieces.