Vladimir Fedorovich Stozharov
- Laureate of the State prize of the RSFSR named after I. E. Repin (1968)
- Honoured artist of the RSFSR (1965)
- Corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Arts (1973)
Vladimir Stozharov has been an acclaimed, outstanding Soviet Russian artist of the middle of the XX century, the successor of the traditions of the Russian realistic school, who devoted most of his creative career to the image of the Northern picturesque views, vernacular Russian architecture of those regions, and humble, hard-working people living in rural areas and small towns, their life and surroundings. Stozharov used to work a lot en plein air, creating an infinite number of studies, which later served as the material for the paintings. Vladimir's landscapes, still lifes, genre scenes can be attributed to the style of socialist realism. The artist was born on January 3, 1926, in Moscow in the family of a driver. From early childhood, the future artist spent a lot of time in the village, where he was sent every summer and also visited cities like Arkhangelsk, Kostroma, Ryazan, Yaroslavl. Numerous relatives of Stozharov lived in Kostroma, and he often came to the river Volga, starting to learn about the life of the province and to understand it better. These early travels from the future artist's childhood have contributed significantly to the development of a sense of fascination about the old, folk crafts, peasant way of life and traditional Russian architecture. From 1939 to 1945 Vladimir was trained at the Moscow secondary art school under the Moscow's Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov, where his teachers were P. T. Koshevoy, S. P. Mikhailov, V. V. Pochitalov, and A. P. Sharchev. Koshevoy and Mikhailov were those people who had opened secrets of the tonal drawing to the artist.
During the war, Vladimir Fedorovich was evacuated to the village of Voskresenskoye in Bashkiria together with the school. It was a period of harsh living conditions and difficult time of separation from family, during which the character of the young Stozharov was formed and evolved. During the evacuation, like other students, Stozharov was painting those people who lived and worked on the collective farm fields, local girls in tanned short fur coats, old men, women with strong, work-weary hands, picturesque views of Bashkiria. Stozharov's first independent journey happened immediately upon his return from evacuation. When he reached Kostroma, the artist got a boat and went down the Volga river to Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod). In addition to painting landscapes and making portrait sketches, Vladimir Fedorovich unloaded barges with sawmills, working side by side with local people in order to better understand the people he portrayed. The artist himself said: "After this trip, I immediately grew up". After that, he studied at the Surikov Art Institute at the Faculty of Painting under the guidance of D. K. Mochalsky, G. K. Savitsky, and V. Pochitalov in the period from 1945 to 1951. Since 1951, the artist has begun to take part in group art exhibitions at the national and all-Union levels, and since 1954, he also has started to participate in all Youth exhibitions of Moscow artists. Eliminating the need to compete for a place at the exhibition with more experienced masters, such exhibitions gave the opportunity to show four or five works by one artist, to compare their skills with each other in order to see the shortcomings and advantages of their works.
After graduating from the institute, Vladimir Fedorovich has embarked on a never-ending journey around the country, which was a crucial factor in the formation of his mature art. Stozharov travelled to Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Pskov, Novgorod, Vladimir regions, and also went to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The artist was particularly inspired and was working a lot on the steppe, in Siberia on the banks of the Yenisei river, in the Arkhangelsk region and the Komi Republic. In 1954, Stozharov was admitted to the Union of artists of the USSR. During this period, the fame and recognition of the art of Vladimir Fedorovich has begun to rapidly gain momentum. The artist went abroad for the first time in 1959; it was a trip to Italy, where he painted views of Florence, Venice and Rome. Vladimir Fedorovich's colour palette has become brighter, warmer, and more saturated following those colours and shades that surrounded Stozharov in that new environment. After a while Vladimir Stozharov's landscapes have become lit up by "Italian" light, reflecting those colours that had made such strong impressions on the artist. He has brought mostly sketches from his trips abroad. However, these trips were very important for the development of Vladimir Fedorovich's art. It can be argued that it has opened a new stage in the artist's career. Despite the fact that he started his artistic journey mostly with genre paintings, after his visits abroad, Stozharov has come to understanding of impressionistic mixing of different genres together, the abandonment of the academically conventional light and shadow, and depiction of particular rhythm and spatiality. An interesting quality has developed in the artist's work: his studies are complete unified visions with an abundance of details and with the chosen story, and his finished paintings always retain the first immediate impression, a certain lightness, spontaneity, emotionality. In the following, 1960, Stozharov visited France, and then Romania, where he showed his works in the group exhibition of artists of the RSFSR, "Russian North", which took place in 1971 - 1972, and went to the UK in 1971.
For the first time, Stozharov went to the North in 1960, and since then, he has been fascinated the pristine beauty of the quiet Northern villages. Together with a group of artists he came back to this region every Spring. Those artists, who went with Stozharov, have shared their memories of him later, saying that he had a remarkable performance and perseverance, was very focused and had a special artistic vision. According to his contemporaries, he always knew exactly what he needed, accurately and instantly found the places that inspired him and that he wanted to paint. Stozharov has always been very thorough, scrupulous in what he portrayed: it was important for him to understand the smallest details of the object that he painted, to know its history, to feel all its peculiarities. Bad weather conditions could not prevent Vladimir Fedorovich from drawing: even during severe thunderstorms and showers he continued to work on the study en plein air. From each of his creative trip Stozharov brought from at least a hundred studies. Artists usually came to the North in the middle of Spring, in late March or early April. Winter in the North lasts for a long time, so the artists could witness the last snow, and the first foliage, and white nights. However, Stozharov primarily reflected his reality, modernity, and not pristine nature. The artist imbued his paintings with working people busy with their everyday chores or preparing for the celebration of some kind. The realities of life were guiding Vladimir Fedorovich in the search for composition and subject matter. Stozharov has always reflected the presence of man, even if it is not straightforward, the changes that people have brought to the world of nature, the conditions under which they exist side by side, in his paintings.
In 1966, Vladimir Fedorovich was one of the participants of the XXXIII international exhibition "Biennale Venice". Together with the artists E. I. Zverkov and A. I. Popov, Stozharov embarked on a creative journey on the river Mezen, the Vashka, Pyssa (Komi Republic) in 1964. The artist's life was filled with such collaborative, collective creative trips. His art is inseparable from these numerous journeys. In 1967, Vladimir Fedorovich was awarded the silver medal of the Academy of Arts of the USSR for several works created between 1964 and 1967. Next year, in 1968, the artist was awarded the state prize of the RSFSR named after I. E. Repin for a series of landscapes "In the North of Russia", which consisted from works painted in the Udorsky district. In 1970, Vladimir Fedorovich went on a creative trip with other artists, Y. I. Semenyuk, N. V. Ulyanov, G. A. Daryin to Novgorod, Pskov, Yaroslavl, Vladimir, and Kostroma regions. The artist's solo travelling exhibition, which was showing sixty-seven Stozharov's works, took place in 1972 - 1974 in Syktyvkar, Arkhangelsk, Kirov, Izhevsk, Gorky, Kuibyshev, Ulyanovsk, Astrakhan, Kostroma, Ryazan, Bryansk, Kalinin, Tula, Kaluga, Smolensk. The exhibition proved to be very popular among the enthusiastic audience and consolidated the name of Vladimir Fedorovich as an extremely national, keenly feeling the values and traditions of his homeland, artist. The artist himself was present at the opening of the exhibition and employees of the Art Museum, where the exhibition took place, presented him bast shoes (lapti) and a traditional peasant shirt made from striped linen. Vladimir Fedorovich collected objects of antiquity, traditional clothes and household utensils, which were used in the villages. These items are very useful to Vladimir Fedorovich in creating his outstanding still lifes. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the artist lived an active, full of creation, life, it was very short - Vladimir Stozharov died on November 22, 1973, at the age of forty-seven in Moscow and was buried at the Vagankov cemetery. Stozharov's works are kept in the collections of the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery and other ninety-six Russian museums and galleries, as well as in private collections in many European countries.
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