Inventory
Anatoly Slepyshev (1932-2016)
Bathers
1995

signed and dated 1995
oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner

Important private collection, Belgium

Attribution
Authenticity confirmed by the artist.
Price on request

'Bathers' is a painting comparable to a window into the world of phantasmagoria, created by an extraordinary, distinct artist, Anatoly Slepyshev. The work was painted during that period when Slepyshev was in Paris, where he lived and worked from 1990 to 1996. During this highly productive and valuable time, the artist held about thirty solo exhibitions in France. It has happened to be that the artist's talent was first appreciated in the West, and, subsequently, his position was strengthened in the art world. The constant search for new subjects, forms, compositions and comprehension accumulated during his Parisian stay are particularly openly manifested in the Slepyshev's art already by 1994. Living in the capital of France, the artist has immersed himself in the art that was previously available to him only in the form of reproductions and compared the colour system of the French ancestors of Impressionism with his own understanding of the image of the landscape. Slepyshev's work can be characterised by lyrical expressionism, a unique perspective of the creator, generalised forms, the lack of clearly defined action, the mystery of a storyline, the lack of topographical and temporal reference points - all these qualities are inherent in 'Bathers'. This subject matter, which repeatedly appears in Slepyshev's art, is a manifestation of a long, entrenched tradition in European art - to depict nude women in the middle of the landscape. This topic was first greatly popularised by the Italian painters of the Renaissance period, such as Giorgione and his 'Sleeping Venus', Titian and 'Venus of Urbino', and Correggio with 'Jupiter and Io'. Then the French artists of the XIX century, such as Ingres, Bouguereau, Lebasque, Courbet, Renoir, Morizo, and many others, turned their attention to the timeless, universal themes that beckoned Slepyshev. Until recently, classical mythology served as a cover for absolutely any artistic fantasies, as can be seen in the case of the Italian artists, but in the XIX century "Bathers" acquire an entirely different rationale, as can be demonstrated, for instance, by looking at the paintings of this subject matter by Paul Cezanne. 

Slepyshev's 'Bathers' is as chaste as possible. This work cannot be attributed to the glorification of the beauty of the female body and celebration of its power of seduction. The use of the theme of bathing and ablution ceremony in a romantic, mysterious, solemn atmosphere adds philosophical, lyrical and, at the same time, epic poetry to the picture and connects it with the centuries-old traditions of humanity not only in painting but also in the way of thinking. Slepyshev has rarely painted from real life. The world of fiction and dreams served as a faithful guide in his search for freedom of pictorial solutions, which once again points to the unsurpassed skill and extraordinary imagination of the artist. Slepyshev has mentioned that he considers one of his main teachers Arthur Fonvizin, a representative of "quiet art" and virtuoso of magical watercolours. In some way, the dreamy worlds of Fonvizin and picturesque fantasies of Slepyshev have much in common. The figures happen to be very organic, built-in part of the landscape, hardly distinguishable in the riot of the picturesque pattern. Chaotic lines, as if sketched in a hurry, frivolous marks of colour help the artist's unusual, extraordinary world to emerge, and the boldness of sweeping brushstrokes, generating trembling shapes, give a powerful stimulus to the imagination. This demonstrative negligence is fraught with challenges, which the artist had faced, and the calculated pictorial path to perfection. Spontaneity, which is so characteristic of 'Bathers', creates an atmosphere of sensuality and dynamism. Slepyshev uses his work to state that everything is in motion and is a subject of confrontation, in particular, the essence of life itself.


also signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse in Cyrillic "Paris" and with a dedication