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NIKOLAI SILIS (1928 - 2018)


Nikolai Silis. «Don Quixote With A Flower»,
200 х 150 х 150 cm, copper, 2018

Critical outline on “Don Quixote” sculpture by Nikolai Silis:

In the late 60s, Nikolai Silis began working on a new series of graphics. As a result, we got 14 pages of brilliant works dedicated to the famous hero of the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote. The main creative goals for Silis were always works on the form, and Don Quixote felt just right for the plastic experiments. "I immediately imagined him all formed and twisted, made from thick sheets of metal" recalled the sculptor in his memoirs. (N. Silis, "Memoirs", Academic Publishing Centre "Nauka", Moscow, 2016, p.39.)

Gradually, the hero of the graphic series began to acquire real outlines, first in clay, then in gypsum and finally, in his already familiar copper form. Although later, on the creative path of the sculptor, this image received many incarnations. In particular, Silis has a smaller bronze version of Don Quixote. This version was created specifically for the Moscow International Film Festival, which was later awarded to director Yuri Norshtein when he received the Tarkovsky Award for the cartoon "The Hedgehog in the Fog" in 1989.

Don Quixote became the most distinguished character of the master.

The image of Don Quixote, embodied by Nikolai Silis, combines monumentality with intimacy.

He is largely out of the total number of his works, that usually gravitating toward generalization of forms, and yet, it is a veiled self-portrait of a master.

Particular attention of Silis to the plastic interpretations in sculpture made significant changes in the world of art and included him in the lines of greatest artists of the twentieth century: Auguste Roden, Antonio Giacometti, Henry Moore, Vadim Sidur, Tony Cregg. Don Quixote became the main work of the sculptor, in which he was able to express his moral and ethical ideals, as well as the genius of the artist-creator

Nikolay Silis was born in Moscow. In 1950 he graduated from the Moscow Higher Art and Industry School (the former Stroganovskoe). He had two diplomas: a monumental sculptor and a stone carver. In 1954, Nikolai Silis, together with Vladimir Lemport and Vadim Sidur, created the art group «LESS». Joint activities of the group continued until 1968. Sculptors performed a number of monumental works for social and cultural buildings, park sculptures, decorative forms and reliefs in the interiors of buildings. In total, about 50 objects were decorated.

Since 1956 Nikolai Silis became a member of the Moscow Union of Artists. Since 1956 he had been taking an active part in all-Union, regional and international exhibitions, as well as in private Russian and foreign galleries. Many works of the sculptor were acquired and donated to state museums and private collections.


The first personal exhibition of Nikolai Silis took place at the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow, near the metro station "Kropotkinskaya". The second - after 30 years, during «Perestroika», in 1987, in the gallery MOSKh on Vavilov Street, Moscow. The third solo exhibition was organized in 1992 in the Moscow Central House of Artists.

1994 - The Valentine Ryabov Gallery held an exhibition "Interior Space", where the works of Nikolai Silis were exhibited. Moscow, Central House of Artists.
1995 - The Valentine Ryabov Gallery held an exhibition of works by Nikolai Silis in the building of Gazprom. Moscow, Nametkina, 16.
2003 - 2004 - The sculptural group "Ode to Life" was installed in the garden of the building of the Embassy of the Russian Federation. South Korea, Seoul.
2013 - The work of the sculptor was exhibited at the Miami Art Fair. Miami, USA. Organizer: The Valentine Ryabov Gallery
2015 - Retrospective exhibition of the creative group «LESS» (Lemport, Sidur, Silis) "Sculptures, which we do not see." Central Manege. Russia. Moscow.
2017 - The sculptor's works became part of the permanent exhibition in the TurnPark art space. Boston, United States.

There were exhibitions in the cities of Russia: in Nyzhny Volochok, Tver, St. Petersburg and abroad: in Germany, Greece, Nigeria, Spain, Belgium, Holland, USA, Great Britain. Some of the works were purchased by state and private museums, Russian and foreign collectors.

Selected monumental works:
- The palace of culture and science. 1952-1954 Co-authors: V. Lemport, V. Sidur, Architect V. Rudnev. Warsaw, Poland.
- The exhibition pavilion of the USSR. 1953. Co-authors: V. Lemport, V. Sidur. Jakarta, Indonesia.
- Portrait of A. Einstein and Academician G.I. Budker 1966-1970. Co-author: V. Lemport. Institute of Nuclear Physics. Novosibirsk, Russia.
- Panel for a garden in the Soviet Embassy in Nigeria. 1967-1968. Co-author: V. Lemport, architect A. Shaikhet. Lagos, Nigeria.
- Design of the facade and territory of the Institute of Physics, portraits of academician L.D.Landau, garden sculpture "Solenoid", a memorial monument to the founder of the institute Dr.Kirensky. 1968-1969. Co-author: V. Lemport, Akademgorodok, Krasnoyarsk.
- High relief in the garden of the Central Library. 1970-1972. Co-author: V. Lemport, architect A. Akhmedov. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
- High relief on two facades of the hotel "Tourist". 1973-1975. Co-author: V. Lemport, architect L. Pushkov. Rostov on Don, Russia
- High relief on the pylons of the Russian Drama Theatre. 1975-1978. Co-author: V. Lemport, architect A. Pechenkin. Ufa, Russia.
- Relief in the reception hall of the USSR Embassy in Greece. 1979-1980. Co-author: V. Lemport, architect A. Polyansky. Athens, Greece.
- High relief on the facade of the conference hall of the Institute of Oil and Gas. 1989-1990. Coauthor: V. Lemport, architect A. Sheikhet. Moscow, Russia.

Museums and collections in which the sculptor's works are represented:
- The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
- Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow.
- Art Fund of the Russian Federation, Moscow.
- Union of Artists of Russia, Moscow.
- Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow.
- Central House of Artists, Moscow
- Tver State United Museum, Tver.
- Vyshnevolotsky Museum of Local Lore, Vyshny Volochek.
- Semipalatinsk Museum of Local History, Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.
- Yaroslavl Art Museum, Yaroslavl.
- TurnParkArtSpace, Boston, USA.
- Collection of the Valentine Ryabov Gallery, Moscow.
- Collection of Alexander Glaser, New Jersey, USA.

Nikolai Silis
«Zero Gravity» from «Don Quixote» series

Nikolai Silis
Don Quixote
bronze, 37 х 32 х 28 cm, 1990.


Valentin Ryabov,
gallery owner, art critic.

Livingston Campus Sculpture Tour
The expansive Livingston Campus, the youngest and largest of Rutgers–New Brunswick’s five campuses, is home to many first-year students. The sculpture found here expresses a forward-looking personality, an academic feel, and a delightful eccentricity

Don Quixote (1976), Nikolai Silis

Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Igor Gomberg and installed in 2012, Don Quixote with a Flower is the creation of Russian sculptor Nikolai Silis. In this abstract copper work located near the entrance to the James Dickson Carr Library, Don Quixote sits in a relaxed position as he examines a flower.
Photo: Nick Romanenko.


"Don Quixote With A Flower" in the Valentine Ryabov Gallery (Moscow):


"I have a great news. The large sculpture by Nikolai Silis 'Don Quixote With A Flower' arrived to my gallery in Moscow. It is the best sample! It is the last life-time large 'Don Quixote' sculpture. It is a fourth edition of the sculpture made from the concrete model and it is the last one since the concrete model has been destroyed and there is no team which has the right and the sculptor's trust to reproduce the model. Previously only one edition of the sculpture was made with a battle shield as the sculptor conceived it. This fourth addition was also made with a battle shield." - Valentin Ryabov, gallery owner.

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