Pavel Fedorovich Nikonov

Pavel Fedorovich Nikonov

  • Silver medal at the all-Union art exhibition (1957)
  • First prize at the V International exhibition of realistic painting in Sofia (1985)
  • Gold medal of the Academy of Arts (1991)
  • P. P. Konchalovsky's award (1991)
  • State prize of Russia (2000)
  • People's Artist of Russia (1994)
  • Corresponding member of the Academy of Arts (1997)
  • Academician of the Academy of Arts (2000)
Pavel Nikonov is a distinguished Russian virtuoso of painting and graphics; he has been considered as one of the leading Soviet painters of the 1960s, a teacher and Professor, one of the founders of the "Severe style" and a member of the progressive "Group of Nine". Nikonov's oeuvre consists of genre paintings, still lifes, landscapes and portraits. Pavel Fedorovich has participated in more than 50 art exhibitions and was repeatedly awarded for his work. The artist was born on May 30, 1930, in Moscow in the family of a repressed prominent military leader of the Red Army. The mother of the artist was well educated and headed the library of the General Headquarters. Even though the artist's father was not related to an artistic sphere in any kind, he was strongly supporting the artistic aspirations of both sons. Pavel Fedorovich has recalled that his father somehow has managed to bring books on art, albums of Western painting, to their house. He later was a passionate admirer of his sons' artistic careers visiting all the exhibitions and public discussions. Pavel Fedorovich began to draw because of his elder brother, Michael, who was a student at an art school. Following his brother's footsteps, while they were living in the Bashkir village of Voskresensk, where Nikonov with his family was evacuated during the World War II, Pavel Fedorovich started to attend art classes at the same school and later became an official student. According to the artist, these two and a half years that he had spent in this place within the environment filled with art students from Moscow, have significantly influenced both his formation as an artist and his way of thinking as well as interests.

In 1950, Nikonov graduated from the Moscow secondary art school and then entered the Faculty of Painting in the Moscow State Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov. Pavel Fedorovich graduated from the Institute under the guidance of P. P. Sokolov-Skal in 1956 with his diploma work called "October", which brought him a big silver medal at the All-Union art exhibition of 1957-1958. Starting with this period, the artist began to participate in national and international group exhibitions. In 1957 Nikonov joined the Union of Artists. Pavel Fedorovich went on his first trip to Siberia to the Bratsk hydroelectric power station in 1959, and then created a painting "Our Everyday Life", which has attained great recognition and popularity. An extensive trip to the Sayan mountains, together with the geological party, prompted the artist to create "Geologists", a painting which he presented at the exhibition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Moscow Union of Artists in 1962 and which has become one of the most iconic in Nikonov's oeuvre. In 1959, the first exhibition of the artistic group "Nine", which included Nikonov among other representatives of the progressive art of the 1960s, was held. The circle of artists was formed on the basis of common views on art, for example, sympathy for the "Jack of Diamonds" and such artists as Larionov and Goncharova.

As his career has progressed, Nikonov, being in a constant search, repeatedly changed his direction in the art in a quite radical way. These artistic explorations led the artist away from the "severe style" and opened a new phase in his work, when Nikonov found his niche in the 1970s, turning to the theme of the village, domestic genre and artistic language of primitivism. The artist has always preferred to work from nature, so for many years he spent a lot of time in the village on the Volga, in Alexia, where Nikonov equipped the so-called "creative laboratory". The artist has said: "All that I see around me, I draw… my perception is sharper and easier in the village comparing to the city. The sky and earth with people living on it, all with their problems". Despite the participation in many group exhibitions, the first solo exhibition of Nikonov's art was held in 1990 at the Central House of artists in Moscow. These works, which Pavel Fedorovich presented at the exhibition, brought him a gold medal of the Academy of Arts of the USSR. From 1998 to 2006, the artist was heading the studio of easel painting in Surikov Insitute. Nikonov's works are stored in the collections of the Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Vologda Art Gallery, the Sofia Museum of Modern Painting and other museums in Russia as well as in museums and private collections in Germany, England, Bulgaria, and in other countries of Europe and the United States. The artist lives and works in Moscow.


Дехтярь, А. (1981) Павел Никонов. Москва: Художник РСФСР.
Мурина, Е., Б. (1990) Заслуженный художник РСФСР Павел Никонов: Живопись. Графика. Москва: Советский Художник.
Museum. ru (2005) [online] Павел Никонов. Available at:
Усная История (2013) О художниках "Девятки", судьбе отца и годах жизни в деревенском затворничестве. Available at: