On Sitnikov’s canvas – “Where the curve will lead” the blue steppe goes to the sky, almost merging with the clouds shrouded in pink light.
In the foreground is a horse, pulling a cart and a man in red playing a balalaika. In the image of the man there is a clear portrait resemblance to the author.
The plot is a favorite for the artist. Looking at the work, how not to remember the pedagogical guidelines of V. Sytnikov to students:
“You have to draw in the mind. That is, I learn to draw with vision, imagination. You have to learn to draw – to see not the horizon of the depicted object, but its front. You have to forget about lines and not even know what it is. Like a cow. There is no line at all, there is a horizon, that is, a turn to the invisible side, in front, the shape – these are the landmarks, and there can be as many as you want. To facilitate and learn drawing as soon as possible, you need to take care of any proportions. this is premature and only binds and nurtures in the student fears and anxieties, no matter how it turns out “bad” or “not like.” To etch absolutely everything except the only concern for form and space, and this must be learned, above all. – and proportions, and compositions, and rhythm, and harmony – everything, everything, everything will come by itself, you won’t even notice how you learn “.
Vasily Sitnikov (1915-1987) – Russian painter and graphic artist, one of the brightest figures of “unofficial art”, who created a legend from his life and embodied the national idea-dream of a foolish genius.
The artist was born in August 1915 in a peasant family in the village. Novo-Rakitino, Tambov province. After the end of the Civil War in 1921, he moved with his parents to Moscow.
In 1933 V. Sitnikov entered the Moscow Ship Mechanical Technical School, was fond of making models of sailboats. His attempt to enter the Higher Art and Technical Workshop in 1935 was unsuccessful. He worked as a bodybuilder, on the construction of the subway, an animator and a model under the direction of O. Ptushko. V. Sitnikov also worked at the Art Institute. V. Surikov, demonstrating slides at lectures of professors, in particular, a famous art critic, an icon painter, Professor Alpatov. Within the walls of the institute he was given the nickname “Vaska-lantern”, under which the artist became famous in informal circles.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, in 1941, V. Sitnikov, participating in trench and defense work, collected postcards scattered by Nazi pilots, hoping to use good paper for drawing. According to the denunciation, he was arrested, declared mentally ill and sent to Kazan for compulsory treatment.
The image of an eccentric man, previously attached to the artist, saved his life. During his time in prisons and mental hospitals, he created a whole gallery of pencil portraits of his cellmates.
In 1944 V. Sitnikov returned to Moscow, where he was interrupted by occasional earnings. After the war, he managed to establish the sale of his paintings to diplomats, thus successfully promoting his original art among the poor. With the money earned, the artist bought Russian icons, collecting during his lifetime a significant and valuable collection of church antiquities, oriental carpets.
During the “thaw” the artist joined the movement of informal art. In 1951 V. Sitnikov realized his dream of a “home academy”, creating in his apartment the first school of the Moscow underground. His contemporary, the artist V. Vorobyov, mentioned:
“To him, an art lover, forty years old, endowed with the innate gift of a teacher, despot, hypnotist, were drawn disadvantaged painters with flashes of genius. Absolute freedom of creativity and iron discipline prevailed in the classroom. students, the elderly, war invalids and beardless young men, and stylistic diversity, and perfection of technology. ”
In 1956, an exhibition of works by V. Sitnikov’s school was held at the student club of Moscow State University. The peculiarities of the Moscow school and its outrageous leader were talked about even outside the USSR. Outstanding masters – V. Weisberg, Y. Vedernikov, M. Sterligova, A. Kharitonov, V. Yakovlev, V. Titov – were connected with the “Sytnikov School” by apprenticeship and creative contacts. But the peculiarity of the culture of the 60’s is that everyone went their own way.
The formal beginning of the artist’s work was the traditional system of academic teaching, based on work with the naked nature and careful graphic shading. In V. Sytnikov, academic nature turned into surreal eroticism, and shading – into a shaky air element that envelops the forms in the form of snow mist, swamp fog or light haze. To this were added the characteristic features of the “Russian style” in the spirit of symbolism and modernism.
His picturesque and graphic series of the 1960s and 1970s – nude, sexual grotesques, genres with “monastery with snowflakes”, still lifes with geometric figures, endless steppe landscapes, the central motif of which was the monastery or strange figures drowning in a colorful dream. The virtuoso master liked to work with a dry brush on a canvas or paper, and then again and again processed a surface so that paints shone through each other. The outrageous way of life of the artist was accompanied by continuous artistic eccentricities.
In 1975 V. Sitnikov emigrated through Austria to the United States. He donated the most valuable part of his collection of icons to the Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art. His own works “scattered” almost without a trace – not counting reproductions and individual works in museums (Zimmerley Museum at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, etc.). A number of the artist’s works were in the collection of his friend K. Kuzminsky.