Piotr Petrovich Belousov
- The Order of Friendship of Peoples
- Honored Artist of the RSFSR
- People's Artist of the RSFSR
- Corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR
Piotr Belousov - a Soviet and Russian artist and an esteemed professor of the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after Ilya Repin, who has been considered as one of the most distinguished representatives of the Leningrad School of Painting. Belousov was not only an accomplished oil painter but also a skilled draftsman and a master of etchings. The artist is most recognised for his works of art which are concerned with revolutionary themes, the history of Bolshevism or portray the figure of Lenin. Another profound part of his art consists of insightful portraits and urban landscapes. Belousov was committed to the realist traditions of Academic art, and eventually, his work became emblematic of Socialist Realism movement. Belousov was born on May 16, 1912, in Berdyansk, on the northern coast of the Sea of Azov, in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine). Perhaps his artistic predisposition and a sense of beauty had already started to develop when Belousov was witnessing his mother's creative output. Matriona Gavrilovna Belousova (Karakash) was an acknowledged embroidery artist who was well known in the city for her talent.
Belousov started to develop his artistic abilities while studying at school by taking art classes in the studio of J. S. Khast in the late 1920s. Khast was an excellent teacher who graduated from the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, maintained friendly relationships with Modigliani, Monet, and Chagall, and was exhibiting his work in Europe. Belousov had a great start of his artistic education in terms of mentorship. However, after the death of his father, the artist was forced by the circumstances to leave the studio and start to train as an apprentice to the hairdresser. Even during this perplexed period, Belousov was still determined to persist in his artistic activities and used his spare time to make sketches of the hairdresser's clients. He succeeded to the extent that some of his customers were even buying their portraits.
The young artist was fortunate enough to draw the attention of an established Soviet-Russian painter I. I. Brodsky, a pupil of the great I.Y. Repin, who happened to be also born in Berdyansk. Brodsky noticed the young artist's talent and appreciated Belousov's artistic skills and promising potential. In 1929, Brodsky invited Belousov to Leningrad to continue his artistic studies. The young artist was living with the Brodsky's family and had an incredible opportunity to observe and absorb how Brodsky was working, to meet with significant figures in the studio and to become familiar with the artistic environment of Leningrad from the inside. Apart from being tutored by Brodsky, Belousov was frequently visiting the artists' studios of the Association of Artists of the Revolution and the Community of Artists. Even before starting his higher education, Belousov had begun to participate in group exhibitions in 1930, including the exhibits of the Society of Artists named after A. I. Kuindzhi. In 1932, the artist was admitted to the fourth year of the Workers' Faculty (Rabfak), which prepared Soviet workers for institutions of higher education, at the Institute of Proletarian Fine Art. In 1933, the Institute was transformed into the Academy of Arts, and in 1934 Brodsky was appointed as his director. Belousov was a successful and strong-willed student and during 1933-1939 was studying at the Faculty of Painting of the Repin Institute. Later, Brodsky will name Belousov as one of his best students. Undoubtedly, the talent of the artist was nourished and developed by the renowned masters and teachers of art such as V. A. Serov, M. D. Bernstein, and M. I. Avilov. Belousov's final diploma work was a historical painting 'On the Eve of October' which has been praised highly and, consequently, the artist graduated with honours.
Since his graduation, Belousov has taught painting and drawing at his alma mater, in the Repin Institute of Arts. Also, in 1939, Belousov was admitted to the Union of Artists of the USSR. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the artist worked in the besieged Leningrad, creating motivational placards and drawings for the 'Smena' journal. In 1942, together with the Academy of Arts, Belousov was evacuated to Samarkand (Uzbekistan). The artist was deeply inspired and entirely captured by the uniqueness and charm of the unfamiliar landscape of Central Asia that he encountered in the course of his visit. He has been extremely prolific during that period and turned his impressions into various oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, and brilliant etchings. In 1943, Belousov was appointed Associate Professor of Drawing. His prosperous academic career reached its pinnacle in 1956 when the artist was approved as the Head of Department of Painting and Drawing at the Repin Institute of Arts. In 1961, Belousov received the rank of Professor at the Department of Drawing. Since 1964, the artist has regularly travelled to Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the GDR. His post-war creative practice is especially highlighted with his best graphic portraits and most famous works dedicated to Lenin. Also, he was interested in creating works of art inspired by his journeys abroad: architectural motifs, graphic landscapes, historical attractions, domestic scenes devoted to the local way of life can often be found in the artist's oeuvre.
Belousov was a participant of the exhibition 'Art of St. Petersburg in Paris' in 1993. His solo exhibitions were held in Vologda in 1959 and Moscow in 1984. In 1970, Belousov was awarded the honorary title of 'Honored Artist of the RSFSR', in 1978, he received the title of 'People's Artist of the RSFSR', and in 1979, he was elected as a corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR. In 1982, the artist was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples. Belousov died on March 31, 1989, in Leningrad at the age of seventy-seven years and is buried at Literatorskie Mostki at the Volkovo cemetery in St. Petersburg. Today, his works can be found in various collections and art museums across the world, including Russia, Ukraine, France, England, and the U.S.
Bown, M., C. (1998) Dictionary of 20th Century Russian and Soviet Painters 1900-1980s. London: Izomar.
Ivanov, S. (2007). Unknown Socialist Realism. The Leningrad School. St. Petersburg: NP Print.
Ivensky, S. (1959) Piotr Petrovich Belousov. Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR
Sukach, G. (n.d.). "Талант, которому улыбнулась судьба." [online] Gorod-online.net. Available at: http://gorod-online.net/nuwspoln.php?nuws=217&number=129
Swanson, V., G. (2001) Soviet Impressionism. Woodbridge, England: Antique Collectors' Club.