Valentina Petrovna Tsvetkova

Valentina Petrovna Tsvetkova

1917 —2007
  • People's artist of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1985)
  • People's artist of Ukraine (2002)
Valentina Tsvetkova has often been called "a classic of Crimean painting" because only when she had settled in Yalta, she found her true artistic path under the influence of the environment and created most of her remarkable works. Throughout her entire creative career, the artist was following the tradition of the Russian realistic school of painting in combination with Russian and French impressionism. She is widely known for skilfully executed, cheerful and bright, light-hearted still lifes and landscapes which praise the beauty of nature. Although today the work of Valentina Petrovna is inextricably linked with the Crimean land, the artist initially comes from the ancient city of Astrakhan, which is located on the Volga river, in Russia. Tsvetkova was born on April 23, 1917, in the family of an Orthodox priest. The childhood and youth of Valentina Petrovna were taking place during the troubled times when the October Revolution, the subsequent civil war and, finally, the forced collectivisation happened. The family experienced poverty, hunger, humiliation and all different sorts of hardship. The atmosphere of those years undoubtedly could not contribute to the development of such a keen sense of optimism and love of life, which are the main characteristics of the artist's paintings. However, the family always encouraged engagement with the arts: whether it be music, literature, or drawing, an activity, which Tsvetkova particularly enjoyed since the early childhood.  

The creative path of Valentina Petrovna does not include the experience of higher education or any academic awards as for her, as for the daughter of the repressed priest, it was impossible to enter a higher education institution. Despite this, the artist received an excellent base for the further development of her outstanding talent in the Astrakhan art school, where she applied in 1930. For five years, which she spent in the art school, Tsvetkova's principal mentor was an academician of painting and a graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, a skilled teacher Pavel Vlasov. It was him who was able to instil a life-long commitment to the traditions of the Russian realistic school of painting and a sense of honour in relation to the Russian art in Valentina Tsvetkova. In 1935, after graduation, Valentina Petrovna began working in the association called "Artist" in Astrakhan. She started showing her work at local exhibitions in 1936. The first and consequential trip to the Crimea took place in 1937: like other profoundly gifted Russian figures of culture, who lived in this place and admired it, such as Anton Chekhov or Fyodor Chaliapin, Yalta has charmed Tsvetkova immediately and for the rest of her life. The beauty of the local scenery has sunk so deeply in the heart of Tsvetkova that during her next visit, right on the eve of the World War II, she decided to stay forever. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this relocation concerning the work of Valentina Petrovna. In order to understand the significance of this move, a parallel can be drawn with such great artists and their places of inspiration and creation as Paul Gauguin and Tahiti or Vincent van Gogh and the South of France.

Tsvetkova completed her cooperation with the artistic association called "Artist" in 1938 and began working in the studio at the House of Arts in Leningrad, where she remained until 1940. Valentina Petrovna was admitted to the Union of Artists of the USSR in 1944. Even though the artist did not have an impressive academic past, her work has found a response from both the public, the art world and the official authorities. Since 1952 Tsvetkova became a regular participant of national exhibitions, and since 1955 - all-Union. From 1950 to 1972 Valentina Petrovna held the position of a Board member of the Crimean branch of the Union of artists of the Ukrainian SSR. In addition to still lifes and landscapes, which are undoubtedly the key genres in the work of Tsvetkova, there is a more "monumental" work in her oeuvre. Immediately after the war, Valentina Petrovna went to visit relatives in her native land, where she has taken up the painting of the altar in the church of the village of Trusovo near Astrakhan. Altar images created by the artist were blessed by the clergy, and they continue to inspire parishioners to this day. Other works of Valentina Tsvetkova, which are less associated with the name of the artist, are excellent examples of the portraiture genre. In the period between 1950 - 1960s Valentina Petrovna actively worked on the creation of two series of portraits: heroes and participants of the Second World war and the scientists of Nikitinsky Botanical garden. Then, in 1975-1980, she began to depict representatives of the creative intelligentsia, including Chekhov, and Crimean famous figures of science and culture.

Since 1965, Valentina Tsvetkova began to take part in foreign exhibitions. Particularly important for Tsvetkova's career were international exhibitions of women artists in Paris in 1967 and 1968 and the exhibition of Ukrainian artists in Canada in 1970. Tsvetkova's works were also honoured with numerous solo exhibitions, which were organized in Yalta (1975,1978,1979,1997, 2002), Simferopol (1968,1972,1985), Kiev (1960,1969,1976,1980), Astrakhan, Moscow (1968,1980, 2001), Kislovodsk, Alupka (1975), Kerch (1976, 1978) and Paris. Tsvetkova's achievements and her fascinating personality were awarded various titles and awards: in 1967 she received a medal "For Distinguished Labour", in 1970 - a medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin", in 1985 - the title of Honoured Artist of Ukraine, in 1997 - the title of Honorary citizen of Yalta, and in 2002, she was awarded the title "People's Artist of Ukraine". There is even a small planet called in Valentina Tsvetkova's honour.

Despite the fact that the artist's most beloved place was her house with a garden in Yalta, where she created her best works, Tsvetkova has often travelled abroad, expanding her horizons and getting new impressions, emotions, knowledge. She has visited not only the countries of the former USSR but also set off to Italy, France, USA, Egypt, India, Turkey, Algeria and Lebanon, among others. A traveller's sketchbook has always been her faithful companion during any trip, and the artist tirelessly worked on sketches, sometimes bringing a hundred of them from each such trip. Thus, the artist's work has become fully-developed and more colourful, filled with wonderful details, which she had a special gift to notice even in an unfamiliar and new environment deftly. Tsvetkova's works are included in the collections of such well-known galleries and museums as the state Tretyakov gallery in Moscow, The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the State Museum of Ukrainian fine arts in Kiev. Also, major museums in Canada, Hungary, USA, Bulgaria, France and Japan have acquired the works of Valentina Petrovna. The artist died on November 27, 2007, in Yalta at the age of ninety years.


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