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SERGEY SHLYACHKOV (1956-2004)
Artist Sergey Shlyachkov at work in his studio
Sergey Shlyachkov - The Artist On A White Horse
Valentin Ryabov, Art Critic, Gallery Director
The artist, whose talent could still amaze collectors and lovers of serious painting for many years with his creative unpredictability, expression and at the same time philosophical thoroughness, passed away as a result of banal medical negligence.
The painting of Sergey Shlyachkov did not appear immediately, at first there were timid, small steps. He tried the ground under his feet and asked himself the question: "Is it possible to step here, and what about here?" Fear, uncertainty, doubt. Who could then explain that these are all companions of a seeking, creative nature? The world that surrounded the artist at that time in his native Tayninka was very far from bohemian. Moscow village region, vegetable gardens, village life, spoiled by vodka. This has been the case from generation to generation. Can it be different? Maybe this is life? The changes took place after Sergey suffered clinical death following a heart attack. The world has changed. There was a need to paint, make sketches, stand for hours at the easel, working on paintings with the help of anything, and yet the doctors forbade.
Once Sergey brought two works to the Panorama Gallery, which was headed by Elena Ryabova (nee Altukhova). Small works of still life pictures did not immediately make an impression, although there was something unusual in them. The well-known Moscow collector David Akselbant tactfully intervened in the situation: “Pay attention to this artist. Very talented ... ". Something suggested that David was not mistaken.
From that moment on, a different meaning of being appeared in Sergey's life, and then the Valentin Ryabov Gallery appeared, friendship with which continued throughout the artist's life. The first painting, which instantly drew a line between the past and the present, was the work titled The Return of the Prodigal Son, dated 1989. A truly iconic work that determined the point of no return of the artist to the past, marking the moment of concept and awareness of himself as a Man-Creator.
At this time, doctors did not allow him to work much, although there were improvements in his health. But there are no barriers or prohibitions for an enthusiastic person! In the artist's studio (Sergey converted into the studio the veranda of the house, part of which he inherited) picturesque canvases of amazing beauty and meaning began to appear. The paintings "Rose Bush" and "Boy with a Cat" are a tribute to the work of the beloved artist Pablo Picasso. But there is nothing Spanish in them: both the rose bush blooms in the garden of his own house, and the stool on which the boy sits, here it is, and the sketchbook with the cat, domestic cat, stands on the stool. Sergey almost always painted from life. He made a huge number of sketches in pencil and ink. He noticed a special meaning in the life around him, and then transferred it to the canvas. Often he was in a hurry, there was no time even to take a brush, and then the images were molded with paint on the canvas with his hands. From the outside it seemed that the artist did not know what to do: first he sketches the paint, then erases it, then “paints” something again, risking tearing the canvas (which happened quite often). Suddenly he stops, as if he is at a dead end and says: "That's it." And if you could be present at this moment in the studio, then it would be most interesting to look at you, because the very connection between the artist's body movements and the amazing result that appeared out of nothing on the canvas is incomprehensible. This is how the artist Sergey Shlyachkov worked in his studio.
Paintings "Resting", "Fisherman", "Harlequins" - written a 'la prima, that is, in one session, forced the viewer to silently look at these masterpieces of the Russian artist from the suburban village of Tayninka near Moscow. In 1996, in the first issue of the Russian Gallery magazine, one of the founders of which was the State Tretyakov Gallery, an article by Valentin Ryabov was published, edited by Olga Kostina, about the artist. Here is its content: “Sergey Shlyachkov is an artist of “big” themes, transforming the triviality of life events into the sublimity of human existence. At the same time, the plot of the canvases can be extremely simple - harvesting, washing clothes, relaxing at home. But the plastic interpretation of the paintings, as a rule, raises their content above the plot, imparting a parable character to the images. In recent years, Shlyachkov has increasingly turned directly to biblical and evangelical themes, creating, however, not illusions, but an expressive plastic paraphrase of deep philosophical reflections on the world and man. The artist's element is a pulsating colourful spot and a lively temperamental brushstroke, testifying to a gravitation towards the impressionistic tradition, about being inspired by the work of Monet, Degas, Renoir. The painting style a'la prima creates the impression of the artist's “unbearable lightness of being”. In fact, Shlyachkov paints slowly, assembles on the basis of many preparatory sketches and drawings, often works - it would not be an exaggeration to say - painfully, painting down an already finished canvas in search of a more expressive composition and a more accurate colour solution. The outer outline of Sergei Shlyachkov's life is quite even: he strives to be a purely private person, avoids the bustle of the world, works in a quiet workshop in his hometown of Mytishchi, only occasionally visiting the capital. However, it is precisely this degree of self-giving that determines the inner dramaturgy of creative self-awareness and makes it possible to ascend to philosophical generalizations in art ... ”.
This is exactly what it was, the themes of the paintings were born in the process of long and deep thoughts. A cycle of works called "Bullfighting", more than 20 paintings, made by the artist from 1995 to 2003. It is amazing that Sergei had never been to Spain and did not know much about the action itself, mostly from books and albums. To the question: "Why bullfight?" he answered: "Look inside yourself - there is a bullfight every day, and you are not always a winner ...". In the album "Traditions: Past and Present", published in 1999 by the Valentin Ryabov Gallery, one of the plots is described this way: Sergei Shlyachkov was enough tragic and comical in his life. Once Valentin Ryabov came to the artist's studio and found him in a not very good mood, not only did the painting, which was supposed to be finished, stand on the easel completely unfinished, or rather, the artist did not touch it. When asked what happened, Sergey blurted out: “Well, what can I draw here. Look out the window yourself ... ". Outside the window, there really was dirty autumn snow, gray sky, gray trees, everything was dirty gray. There was only one thing left - to go to drink tea, to cheer up. And then, in a heap of garbage, Valentin Ryabov saw a small canvas removed from a stretcher. Apparently, the fate of this piece of matter has been decided.
- Sergey, what is it?
With this piece of canvas found in the trash, a series of works entitled "Washerwomen" began. And the find itself, measuring 30x40, was estimated by the experts of the Tirosh auction house at $ 4000 (a significant amount at that time). Since then, the cost of the master's work has grown significantly and can amount to tens of thousands of dollars today. The artist's success did not become for him a test, a temptation, a test of the strength of the principles by which he built relationships, first of all, with himself. The realization of your necessity, of what you are doing for people has come. Sergei worked hard. Exhibitions in Portugal (1999) and Poland (2000), where the master's paintings were exhibited, became a revelation for connoisseurs of Russian art. In 2002 Valentin Ryabov Gallery was invited to work on the interiors of the Russian Embassy in Seoul (South Korea). The Russian Ambassador of the Russian Federation Timur Ramishvili, having seen the paintings of Sergey Shlyachkov, asked to include the artist in the delegation. The period from 2002 to 2004 can be called a new stage in the work of Sergei Shlyachkov. In his works, a tendency towards minimalism, to colour isolation, to work with the texture of the paint layer appeared - all this gave a special unique flavour to the paintings of this period, such as “A stormy wind rose on the lake ...”, “Red Square. Evening", "Early Hour ", "Two Roads ". In 2004, Sergey was preparing another sensation: three new paintings, which he did not manage to finish ... Today, the works of art of the great master have become rarities, not many collectors who previously bought the paintings of Sergey Shlyachkov want to part with them. ... The Valentin Ryabov Gallery has done a great job of collecting his paintings. The artist's widow Svetlana Shlyachkova has been and continues to provide active assistance in this matter. She kindly provided her husband's works from her collection. An excellent selection of paintings was published in the first, second and third volumes of the album "150 Works of Contemporary Russian Artists", published by the Gallery in 2005-2008.