Petr Timofeevich Fomin
The name of the well-known Soviet artist and teacher Petr Fomin is inextricably linked with remarkably gentle lyrics of his works and poetic perception of the world that is reflected in them. The artist was born on October 18, 1919, in a small village called Ledyakha in the Pskov province, Russia, where he also spent his childhood. Fomin started to develop his relationship with the outside world in the countryside, and it profoundly influenced his ability to see and feel the nature. He claimed, that 'I was lucky that I was born in the village and lived there in the time of formation of artistic interest to unfolding grass, the river, the change of seasons, and changes in nature. Much was learned with the observation of the animal world. I began to sculpt them - horses, cows, sheep - from clay and put these sculptures to dry under the bridge'.
He was called a poet of Russian nature and the singer of the Northern Territory because of an imperishable and robust sense of the homeland that he invoked primarily in his landscapes. Forests, rivers, meadows and fields are main subjects of his works. The artist was highly inspired by spring, his favourite time of the year when nature wakes up from its winter sleep. In most of his paintings, Fomin was endlessly showing this ecstatic moment of revival, of the rebirth of the earth and emphasising delicate, subtle changes in the landscape of his native Pskov region and his later home, Saint Petersburg. The artist created a series of epic landscapes - portraits of the Russian land. His scenes are not indifferent snapshots of the reality, but they are animated, brought to life by the artist's vibrant imagination and his natural excitement as well as by the refinement of colour and well-thought composition. Thus, primarily in his landscapes, his work combines the traditions of the Russian Realist movement and an overt desire to create sublime, idealistic world. Fomin's genre and history paintings, landscapes, portraits shed this deep and lasting feeling of simplicity and kindness, openness and calm. Sincerity and great care towards what is happening around were not only the characteristic traits of the Fomin's art but also could be applied to the artist's personality.
Fomin started to paint in the school and then in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), where he moved with his family in 1931, in the Vyborg House of Culture between 1936 - 1938, and the regional art school. His pedagogical talents manifested themselves already when he was teaching children to paint and draw in high schools. However, once the Second World War or how it is commonly known in Russia the Great Patriotic War started, the artist signed up for military service as a volunteer. He fought on the Leningrad and the 3rd Belorussian fronts and took part in the fights for Konigsberg. Fomin did not abandon his artistic urge even during the war. He created posters for military units, designed newspaper flyers, participated in visual propaganda commissions, painted portraits of the heroic pilots, and organised exhibitions for the soldiers who were amateur artists. Fomin was awarded by the Order of the Patriotic War II degree (1985) and received a medal "For Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945", as well as a medal "For the Defence of Leningrad".
When Fomin was discharged from the army in 1946, he joined the Painting Faculty of the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, the oldest arts institution of the Soviet Union, under the artistic guidance of Victor Oreshnikov. Fomin graduated in 1952 with his final work being a grand history painting 'Kutuzov at Borodino'. In 1952 he began teaching at the Repin Institute of Arts and was promoted to a full professor in 1971. During 1972 - 1975 Fomin served as a Chairman of the Leningrad's organisation (later, the member of the St.Petersburg Union of Artists), the Union of Artists of Soviet Russia. The pinnacle of Fomin's pedagogical success became his appointment as a rector of the Repin Institute in 1983. He held the position until 1991. The artist received the rank of the People's Artist of the USSR in 1991. Fomin's whole life until the end of his days was an immense, determined, tireless work. He always felt close ties with his motherland, Russia, and it is reflected in his art through the union of man and nature, the past and the present. The artist, as a model of an exemplary Soviet citizen, survived with his country all that he could and had to go through. Fomin was leading an archetypal kind of life of his generation which can be justifiably called a tough one, yet he could preserve this gentle and poetic perception of nature as well as life-affirmative motives in his work. A lot of his paintings such as 'Soldiers', 'the Russian people' or 'Into the Woods' are memories and reflections of his experiences. The subject matters of these works are easily recognisable and close to those, who fought in battles or worked on the land or lost his beloved ones during the war.
During the last years of his life, Fomin devoted himself completely to the contemplative landscape paintings. These works seem more restrained in their visual expression and philosophical in their generalised subject-matter. The artist was returning to his favourite portrayals of nature and its phenomena in familiar places but at various times of the year and day. He always knew how to communicate to the canvas all the different moods and atmospheres present not only in nature but in his soul as well. Fomin died on January 9, 1996, in St. Petersburg at the age of seventy-seven and was buried at the Volkovo Cemetery. The artist contributed to many exhibitions during his lifetime since 1952. Today, his works can be seen in the Tretyakov Gallery and the State Russian Museum as well as other museums and private collections in Russia. The artist also is presented in the UK, the USA, France, Japan and other countries.
Иванов, С. (2007). Неизвестный Соцреализм. Ленинградская школа. Санкт-Петербург: НП-Принт.
Фомин, Н. and Фомина, М. (2002). Петр Фомин. Живопись. Воспоминания современников. Санкт-Петербург: СПб.
Bown, M. (1998). A dictionary of twentieth century Russian and Soviet painters. 1900-1980s. London: Izomar.