Volkov Alexander

Demon 56,6x66,2 cm, oil on canvas, 1916

Volkov Alexander Nikolaevich (1886–1957) – Russian artist, one of the founders of contemporary art in Central Asia.

Born in Skobelev (now Ferghana, Uzbekistan) in the family of a military doctor. He studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1908-1910) under V.E. Makovsky, as well as at the Kiev Art College (1912-1916) under F.G. Krichevsky. He lived in Tashkent. In 1927–1930 he was a member of the local association “Masters of the New East”.

Volkov’s early painting is characterized by the modern style, reminiscence of the “crystalline” painting of M. A. Vrubel (Persianka, 1916, Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow). The influences of cubism organically combined with the ornamental flatness of forms inspired by the art of Islam in the Oriental Primitive series (1918–1920, tempera).

In the first half of the 1920s, the rhythmic monumentality inherent in his style and the powerful energy of color, sometimes transformed into a semi-abstract futuristic game of pure natural elements (Caravan 1, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; Caravan 3, Museum of Oriental Art; both works – 1922–1923) , reached a dramatic climax in Volkov’s famous painting – The Pomegranate Tea House (1924, ibid.), where the patriarchal life was transformed by a flame of crimson-red tones, beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Impressive color energy is preserved in Volkov’s things, written according to the program of socialist realism. The scenes of collective farm labor take on the likeness of epic frescoes (Girls with a Cotton, 1932, ibid.). More than once defamed by “formalism” and in 1946 suspended from teaching at the Tashkent Art College (where he worked since 1929), the master, however, created many noteworthy things in the late period – in particular, in his own way unique, “unofficial” – expressionist image of war, painting by Pieta (1944, property of the artist’s family, Moscow).

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