Anatoly Stepanovich Slepyshev
- Honored artist of Russia
Anatoly Slepyshev was a distinguished Russian artist and a recognised master who had a great talent and a distinctly recognisable style that cannot be confused with anyone. The most characteristic feature of his paintings is a swirl, maelstrom of colourful formations, vigorously, rapidly, almost frantically put on canvas in a burst of sudden emotion, of spontaneous sensuality. The artist brilliantly managed to blend the subjects of the Russian hinterland, simple village life with horse-driven carriages, small humble churches and familiar landscapes with refined, pompous images of French Rococo, the atmosphere inherent in the works of Jean-Antoine Watteau. This liberal, highly personal interpretation of the sophisticated French motifs of the XVIII century, processed by means of dashing Russian folklore, sometimes even containing vulgar, staggering elements, is very typical for many works by Slepyshev.
The artist was born on July 3, 1932, in a tiny village of Lopatino, Penza region. When Slepyshev was thirteen years old, his family moved to the Ural area, in the city of Nizhny Tagil, where from 1953 to 1954 Slepyshev studied at the Nizhny Tagil Art and Industrial School. After military service, in 1958, Slepyshev moved to Moscow. The artist was able to pursue his artistic training, now with Leonid Shipov, and then with A. Deineka at the Moscow State Art Institute. V. I. Surikov. Slepyshev's acquaintance with A. Fonvizin and a visit to the artist's studio, while still being a student, in 1962 was an influential episode in Slepyshev's creative life. In general, the 1960s have been very productive and fruitful years for Slepyshev's career, when he could deepen his understanding of art and how it is being produced. He was a frequent visitor to the artists' studios. Especially those artists, that were officially rejected, undesirable by their country. He was browsing through the private collections of Moscow and Leningrad as developing his artistic horizons. In the mid-1960s, Slepyshev was influenced by a unique master of monumental art B. Chernyshov as he attended Chernyshov's classes in the artist's studio. Slepyshev has stated, that from the moment that he got into the Surikov Institute and further, throughout his life, he constantly was trying to develop themes for his art. The artist stated: 'I develop these topics without coming to an end, because it is not about the topic, but about the tasks that I put into solving these topics. And these tasks can be seen as unsolvable; they can constantly be developed.' This eternal search, restless dynamics and endless experiment has played a profound role in Slepyshev's success.
After graduation, the artist has taught painting in secondary schools, made fresco paintings and created decorative compositions as commissions for public buildings in Moscow, worked in restoration workshops of the Kremlin, held the position of an artist-designer in the V. I. Lenin library. At the same time, his first solo exhibition was held. In 1967, he joined the Union of Artists of the USSR at the Moscow branch and began to take part in numerous shows both in his country and abroad. The most productive period of Slepyshev's work came when the artist was able to organise his studio in the former Gum warehouse on Kuibyshev street in 1968. Also, since 1968, the artist has begun to use graphics as a new medium, creating his first series of graphic works with pen and ink. In the 1970s, Slepyshev's art has made a new turn: the artist's works have become lighter, airy as if radiating light and made in neutral colours. Slepyshev was experimenting with techniques and media: watercolour appears in his pen drawings, phantasmagorical, fantastic motifs emerge, and exceptional softness, a sort of gracefulness settles in the works. In 1977, he held a solo exhibition in the private apartment of an art critic Leonid Bazhanov. In the 1980s, the artist almost abandoned the drawings of pen and ink and appealed more and more to the technique of watercolour, gouache and pencil.
In the late 1980s, Slepyshev became interested in biblical themes, as well as worked on a series of 'Russian Poets' and worked on urban and historical themes. The artist began his journey through Europe in 1989: first Germany, then Austria, and France. He lived and worked tirelessly in Paris from 1990 to 1996, creating during this period about 30 paintings and 50 graphic works dedicated to the Russian village, which had a stunning success in France. Briefly returning to his homeland at the time after perestroika, Slepyshev has attempted to revive in Moscow free creative art workshops, but unsuccessfully, which resulted in the artist's early departure to Paris. Slepyshev was a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts and an artist, who during 1966 - 2001 held more than a hundred solo exhibitions in Russia and abroad. Today Slepyshev's works can be found in the collections of the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, the Pushkin Museum, the Museum of Moscow History, the new gallery - collection Ludwig (Germany), the Zimmerli Museum (USA), the Museum of Peter Ludwig (Germany), Kostaki gallery (Greece) and other museums, as well as in private collections. Slepyshev died after a long illness on April 13, 2016, in Moscow, at the age of 83 years.
archive.is. (2002). Великолепный деревенщик - Известия. [online] Available at: https://archive.is/20130416235210/www.izvestia.ru/culture/article24040/
Слепышев, А. (2004). Рукотворная Красота. Москва: Материк.
Slepyshev.ru. (n.d.). Анатолий Слепышев. [online] Available at: http://slepyshev.ru/biography
Заславский, Г. and Слепышев, А. (2003). Художник Выше Любого Общества. [online] www.old.russ.ru/culture. Available at: http://old.russ.ru/culture/vystavka/20030624_sle.html