Tatiana Yermakova

Magazine issue: 
#1 2003 (01)

The Engineer Building of the Tretyakov Gallery invites visitors to the exhibition of Vera Favorskaya (1896-1 977) and her husband Ivan Chekmazov (1901-1961). This exhibition shows the artists' works from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery and Moscow private collections. The album "Vera Favorskaya and Ivan Chekmazov: A Creative Heritage”, which includes Favorskaya's "Artist's Memoirs" dedicated to the memory of her husband, is published to mark the exhibition.

The album 'Vera Favorskaya and Ivan Chekmazov: A Creative Heritage'

Highly professional and original art has long made Favorskaya and Chekmazov famous among collectors. Lovers of art, and especially of the landscapes of the Crimea will be fascinated by their works depicting the Black Sea's Eastern coast, by the views of the towns of Feodosia, Bakhchisaray and Sevastopol.

Favorskaya and Chekmazov belong to the generation of the first graduates of the Higher Artistic and Technical Studios (VKhUTEMAS), being outstanding representatives of the Moscow school of painting. The apprenticeship of A. Arkhipov, K. Korovin, A. Kuprin and R. Falk and the participation in exhibitions of the Society of Moscow Artists (OMKh) gave them sufficient experience to join the faculty of the Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after VI. Surikov. There they brought about the revival of the Southern landscape genre in Russian art. After Ivan Chekmazov had inspired and organized the artists' workshops in the Crimea, the couple tutored their students' "plein- air" practice in the small Crimean village of Kozy. These practices were a kind of the replacement for foreign trips prohibited for the Soviet students. The keen interest for impressionism in the 1930-40s caused ultimately a reaction from the authorities, and in 1948 a number of teachers from the Surikov Institute, including Favorskaya and Chekmazov, were dismissed, and the Crimean practices were forbidden.

Vera V. Favorskaya. Portrait of a Woman.  1922
Vera V. Favorskaya. Portrait of a Woman. 1922
Oil on canvas.

The passionate, vigorous and emotionally charged art of Favorskaya is the centrepiece of the show. Her daring manner of painting is marked by the wide strokes, expressionist colours and brilliant composition skills. Favorskaya's works painted in the VKhUTEMAS let K. Korovin call her a "formalist". In 1922 both Favorskaya and Chekmazov participated in the First Exhibition of Russian Artists in Berlin alongside with other renowned artists of the time.

A predisposition to form-searching and experiments with colour highlights the decorative qualities in Favorskaya's paintings and defines her as a predominantly still-life artist. She did indeed love to paint still-lifes.

The artist releases her imagination in the graphic series "Tsar Sultan Fairytale" and "Pushkin's Childhood".

Compared with the daring and dynamic works of Favorskaya, the paintings of her husband look quiet and introverted. With a calm and meditative look Chekmazov catches up and realizes within the painting a mesmerising imaginary space where nature and art merge in a harmonious spiritual union. Chekmazov is a devoted classical landscape painter. The dazzling brightness of most of his Crimean works produces a mirage effect as the air melts under the rays of the piercing sun. He would continue to work on one painting for many years, until the landscape was stripped of any accidental details, with only general, eternal forms emerging and remaining.

The series of cityscapes, views from the window of his apartment on Zubovskaya Square in Moscow brings back memories of Vasily Kandinsky who lived in the same place and painted the same views in the early 1900s. Chekmazov's favourite night cityscapes with flickering street-lamps and ad stands reflecting on the wet pavement create a dynamic and rhythmical image of the romantic city.

Chekmazov's works are neither sketches nor reproductions of any fleeting impressions. Nature's image that hides behind the rich and fine choice of paints put thickly on the canvas conveys the artist's reflections on the surrounding world and his concept in painting. It makes us observe carefully the vibrant and changeable space of his pictures.






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