Petr Pavlovich Ossovsky

Petr Pavlovich Ossovsky

1925 —2015
  • Silver medal of the USSR Academy of Arts (1963)
  • Order Badge of Honour (1968)
  • Gold medal of the Russian Academy of Arts (1997)
  • Winner of the international Sholokhov's prize (2006)
  • Honoured artist of the RSFSR (1970)
  • People's artist of the RSFSR (1975)
  • Corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts (1988)
  • People's artist of the USSR (1989)
  • Academician of the Russian Academy of Arts (1995)
Petr Ossovsky is a well-known Russian artist, a bright representative and one of the founders of the "Severe style", one of the most prominent painters of his era. Petr Pavlovich worked in the genre of portraiture, landscape, and genre painting. The Russian theme, which includes the life of the province, rural way of living, pastoral nature, has always occupied a special place in the artist's works, whether it is a portrait, landscape or a hasty sketch from nature. Pskov land and people working on it, the theme of Orthodoxy, people's stories and their fate, and the Moscow suburbs were important subject matters in the work of Petr Pavlovich. In his work, Ossovsky has set himself such missions as the desire for sincerity, the creation of works of art without regard to ideological attitudes, the search for the highest truth. The artist was born on May 18, 1925, in the village of Malaya Viska, in Kirovograd region, in Ukraine in a military family. The early years of the future artist took place in Malaya Viska, but at the age of five, Ossovksy moved with his family and were wondering from one place to another in search of better life. In 1936, the Ossovsky family settled in Moscow, where Petr Pavlovich had embarked on the path of a professional artist when in 1940, he went to Moscow secondary art school, where he subsequently studied for four years.

After graduating from the school in 1944, Petr Pavlovich entered the Surikov Art Institute and was assigned to the studio of the People's Artist of USSR, Professor S. V. Gerasimov, who has greatly influenced the formation of Ossovsky's artistic priorities and strengthened the young artist's interest in monumental forms and realistic art. In addition to Gerasimov among the artist's teachers were N. H. Maximov, D. K. Mochalsky, S. N. Kostin, I. I. Chekmazov, V. V. Favorsky. The artist has said: "I studied with such a master as Sergey Gerasimov. And yet I say: I learned from my friends no less than from him. We were taking hold in our views on the tasks of art and on the means of solving these problems". The artist graduated from the Institute in 1950. His diploma work was devoted to the theme of sports, which had a tremendous significance in the life of Petr Pavlovich. Ossovsky was genuinely passionate about football. Also, in search of new experiences, the artist often went on small trips by bike, going around a lot of secluded places near Moscow, where he could calmly, peacefully work in nature.

Petr Pavlovich has begun to participate in art exhibitions of young artists since 1954. The artist later stated: "According to my own feelings and experience, I know how much these annual exhibitions of young artists meant to us. For my friends and myself, it was serious schooling to prepare for these exhibitions, to discuss it afterwards, to exchange our views… The exhibitions brought up young people's attitude to art and life. There was independence; there was a determination to express in your own way what you feel and what you have experienced. The exhibition gave a feeling of comradeship". With the accession to the Union of artists of the USSR in 1956, rightfully deserved success and fame comes to Ossovsky. In 1961, Petr Pavlovich went on a creative trip to Cuba and Mexico, which have greatly affected the liberation of his artistic vision, enriched his work with new colour schemes. Ossovsky has recalled: "It was a beautiful and difficult trip to the "Island of Freedom", as it was then called, which allowed me to feel and understand a lot in the human and creative sense. I spent more than a month with Viktor Ivanov in the atmosphere of the revolutionary spirit of the Cuban people, from the leaders and romantic leaders to ordinary soldiers, peasants, workers, men and women. It was in Cuba that I completed the drawing course gained invaluable experience, so necessary for my further work". From these trips to Cuba and Mexico, Ossovsky has brought home numerous wonderful sketches and drawings, landscapes and portraits, as well as ideas for a subsequent work, which has formed into a whole thematic series. The artist's solo exhibition, which was called "Mexico", happened in 1964 in Leningrad, Moscow, Warsaw, and Volgograd. It has brought great popularity to Ossovsky. Petr Pavlovich has joked about his deep immersion in the topic: "I had mastered the "Mexican" role so much, that then, working on the series people of Siberia, I painted Russian people with Mexican facial features".

Ossovsky has found his true home in the ancient land of Pskov. The artist arrived in Pskov for the first time in 1966. Being in a constant, tireless creative search, Petr Pavlovich has gone from the Bashkir village, Moscow's suburbs, Suzdal and Vladimir land, a bright, exotic and captivating beauty of Cuba and Mexico to the Pskov lands, where he has managed to discover his central theme. Also, being already at the age of forty years, Ossovsky was reconsidering his life and creative successes and failures, and in a way, was experiencing reassessment of values. The topic of Russian heritage, as well as the historical and cultural roots of the people, is mainly present in the works of Ossovsky from the early 1970s until his death. Among the other essential episodes of the artist's life, which are strongly reflected in his work, can be emphasised a trip to Siberia and the Altay in 1957 and 1959, as well as a visit to the Baikal-Amur, mainline in 1979. Also, in 1979, Ossovsky was awarded the gold medal of the Italian Academy of Arts for a series of paintings "Slavic portraits". The artist was travelling a lot in Europe, he was always attracted to the lifestyles of other countries and peoples. He repeatedly visited Italy, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia. By the early 1970s, the artist was increasingly focusing on the image of the landscape. Ossovsky has stated: "the territory of my creativity expands from the shores of Baikal lake to the waters of the Caribbean Sea". The artist's solo exhibitions were held not only at home ((Moscow, 1964, 1978, 1983, 1985), but in various European countries as well (Poland, 1965; Italy, 1966; Czech Republic, 1975; Slovakia, 1975; Finland, 1984; Germany, 1987; Spain, 1992). In 2008, the artist was awarded the title of "Honorary citizen of the city of Pskov". Ossovsky died at the age of ninety years on August 1, 2015 in Pskov, in Russia and was buried in Izborsk, in the Pskov region, on the Truvorov gorodishe. His works are stored in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, as well as in many large museums in Russia and the countries of former the Soviet Union, and private collections in Egypt, Israel, Venezuela, Germany, Slovakia, England, Italy, Spain, Finland, USA, Japan, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Poland.


Culture - art. ru (n.d.) [online] Петр Оссовский. Available at:петр-оссовский/
Кочемасова, Т. (2004) Петр Оссовский. Москва: Белый город.
Оссовский, П. (2002) Записные книжки художника. Москва: Научно-Исследовательский институт теории и истории изобразительных искусств Российской академии художеств.
Рожнова, О. (1978) Петр Оссовский. Живопись. Графика. Москва: Советская Россия.