Deeper Underground

by Maria Ybok

Throughout mid thirties till the end of eighties of the 20th century post avant-garde art was in exile in all USSR. It was unanimously unequivocally decided by the then USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev that Soviet people did not need any other forms of art except socialist realism, a kind of blunt art which glorified the role of the meek, working class and its communist leaders. Non-conformist painters such as Oscar Rabin and Oleg Tselkov had been driven underground. In the 1950s they became members of the famous Lianozovo Circle of post-avant-garde artists and poets in a small village outside Moscow. The group of artists collaborated together to mock and explode soviet conventions, creating lyrical expressions and surrealism. In 1974 non-conformist artists craving to show off their alternative art came out from their underground to organize an outdoor exhibition, a very risky venue which was dubbed as “Bulldozer exhibition”. Soviet authorities could not put up with the entire event and swept participants and artists in cold blood, confiscating, destroying the art work, and beating them. Even though both artists achieved prominence and recognition they had left to work and live in Paris.

The theme of paintings and verse is often gloomy industrial landscapes, still life full of mockery and sarcasm. Black and brown somber palette reflects acute disgust with the humdrum and absurdity of soviet existence..

This is a unique painting by Oleg Tselkov, “Two Wine Glasses”, 1995, oil on canvas , 81×65 cm, signed in Cyrillic. This hot painting will be available at Gene Shapiro’s upcoming September auction.  Estimate: $18,000-25,000