Russian master artist Sergei Chepik celebrates 20 years with a solo exhibition of recent works hosted by The Catto Gallery from 29th June until 17th July, 2008
This solo exhibition of recent works by the Russian master, Sergei Chepik, celebrating 20 years of his creative work in the West, takes place at The Catto Gallery, London, from 29th June until 17th July, 2008. Thirty one works have been selected for this exhibition and are largely inspired by his home for the past 20 years – Paris. The works are carried out in oil, watercolour, pastel and mixed media, with prices for lithographs starting at £950. ‘L’Ange de Nôtre Dame’ looking over Paris as a subject looks back to his first painting created in Paris in 1988, ‘The White Angel’, which also paid homage to the cathedral Nôtre Dame, as does ‘Paris: La Cité’.
Chepik is internationally renowned for his monumental biblical works; and ‘The Last Supper’ measuring 90 x 255cms will be one of these haunting yet compassionate works on view. Other themes explored in this exhibition include, the spectacle and drama of the Bull Fight, together with scenes of Venice and its annual Carnival. One of his major commissions in London of this genre was for four monumental paintings of the Life, Crucifixation and Resurrection of Christ installed on permanent display by The Catto Gallery in St Paul’s Cathedral, London from January 2005. This series of paintings entitled, ‘I am the Light, Truth and the Life’, was the first painting to be installed in St Paul’s since Holman Hunt’s ‘Light of the World’ in 1904.
The artist is known not only for his variety of theme, power of imagination, virtuoso technique, subtlety of his palette, but the strength of his line, and the diversity of genres he uses, as well as for the wealth of his interpretation and a savagery and emotional power which astonishes. His works in part look back to the medieval devotional paintings with hidden meanings and icons appearing throughout his work.
His love of Paris, his home and refuge from 1988, is expressed in his touching evocation of the beauty as well as the seedy underbelly of the city hinted at in ‘Le Moulin de la Galette’. He painted the city and the Seine often in the 1990s and for this show has added views that embody the character of Paris, executed in muted tones with his great dexterity of light.
The only stained glass window ever designed by Chepik will also be for sale at this show. This work has 24 panels backlit to heighten the colours and is over seven foot in height. The work depicts scenes from the Bible, folk tales from Russia and Europe, as well as classical myths. All these scenes have been given a twist by Chepik, so nothing is as it seems.
His grotesque revellers seen dancing in ‘Carnival in Venice’ highlight a life for the day attitude that perhaps Chepik has held on to throughout his life, after being rescued from the Soviet Union by his then lover and now wife Marie-Aude Albert. This observation of the manic energy of the players in this scene hints at their empty lives or search for meaning with Chepik looking beyond the chaos of the scene. His minutely observed portrayals of differing aspects of the majestic spectacle and ultimate futility of the bull fight, as seen in ‘Torero’, also hint at this constant soul searching.
“Chepik's art will 'represent' this century to those who come after us; and the art of a Russian is more entitled to fulfil that task than most. In his fierce psychological enquiry, Chepik has come to study the indifference and the turned gaze of individuals as well as the ferocity of mass murderers and Ivan the Terrible.” Godfrey Barker, (Art Critic and Journalist)
Mrs Gillian Catto, owner and curator of The Catto Gallery, said, ‘The work of Sergei Chepik amazes on many levels not least for constantly evolving work and his ability to renew himself; offering a wealth of powerful pieces to amaze the collector. We are delighted to be able offer collectors another opportunity to see Sergei’s work.’
For further information, images and a catalogue of the forthcoming Sergei Chepik exhibition, contact The Catto Gallery, 100 Heath Street, Hampstead.
For further information:
Mrs Gillian Catto
The Catto Gallery
100 Heath Street
London NW3 1DP Tel: 020 7435 6660
Fax: 020 7431 5620
Cassleton Elliott & Co. Ltd.
Tel: 020 3178 2336
Fax: 020 3178 2338
Notes to Editors:
Born in 1953 (the year of Stalin's death) in Kiev, into a family of artists, Sergei Chepik, the son of a painter and a sculptress, has been conscious of his artistic vocation since early childhood. His exceptional gifts led him, at the age of 20, to St. Petersburg, to study at the world-renowned Repin Academy of Fine Art under the tutelage of Prof. Andrej Mylnikov, himself a pupil of Igor Grabar, one of the leading figures of the World of Art movement. From his long apprenticeship at the academy, Chepik retained a love of professionalism, a taste for excellence and a respect for the great masters which have made him a demanding and scrupulous artist, who considers art a difficult craft which cannot be improvised, which certainly requires talent and a vivid imagination, but ultimately depends on hard work, patience and will.
After graduating in 1978, Chepik was immediately admitted to the Union of Young Artists. Passionately devoted to art, he then sought to master all genres, from landscape and still-life, inspired by his travels through Russia, to portraiture and above all composition, the most difficult genre to master as seen in the paintings Michelangelo (1979-1984), The Tree (1982-1984) and Petrushka (1984-1986).
But his original work seemingly had no future in the USSR, for he refused to conform to the demands of an ideology which he was increasingly condemning in canvases such as The Veterans (1987), The Apocalypse (1987-88), The Bell (1987-88) and Pièta (1988). His masterpiece, The House of the Dead (or Madhouse), completed in 1987, was banned from being exhibited. This large-scale composition, an allegorical representation of Soviet society, walled in by its own lies, paranoia, and despair, was the striking and cruel mirror which the artist, both as a conscience and a witness, was holding forth to his compatriots.
Chepik then decided to emigrate with the help and complicity of his future French wife Marie-Aude Albert. On the 1st of August 1988, he arrived in Paris, with nothing except his canvases, his father's easel, his will to succeed, and the banished House of the Dead, which, three months later, won a gold medal and received public acclaim at the Salon d'Automne.
Chepik's first Parisian painting was a homage to Nôtre-Dame (The White Angel, 1988) and soon Paris was to become a favorite theme for the exiled painter: the large scale glorious views of the banks of the Seine (The Pont Neuf, The City, The Chimeras of Nôtre-Dame, 1992-1995), the strange and unsavory world of Pigalle bars and cabarets (Calcutta, The Queen of the Night, 1988, Eva, 1992, The Mermaids of Pigalle, 1996), the poetic vision of street artists and outcasts (The Bench, 1988, Nocturne, 1991, Cabaret, 1992), the eternal and lyrical face of the French capital (La Parisienne, 1988, Trocadero, 1992).
As new impressions and experiences in the west developed, new themes appeared such as boxing (Boxers, 1990, Fight and Win, 1991), bull-fights (Tauromachia, 1992, Spanish Triptych, 1992-97, Picador, 1999, Carmen, 1999) and sunflowers (Hommage to Van Gogh, 1993, Sunflowers, 1995, Sunflowers from St-Remy de Provence, Sunflowers from Arles, 1997, Big Sunflowers, 1999).
Russia however remained the main source of inspiration for this searing visionary: through large compositions, year after year, Chepik resumed his anxious exploration of Russian history in the XX century and questioned the tragic destiny of the Russian people: Memories (1989), The Station (1990), Troika (1991), The First Circle or The Bath (1991-92), Red Square (1993-1994), Russian Roulette (1995), Chechnya (1997), The Cross of Russia (1999) are testimonials to this passionate and painful interest in his homeland which, as for writer Nicholas Gogol, could only be understood and loved by moving away. Also, like Nureyev, whose portrait Chepik completed in 1993 just before painting Baroness Thatcher), Chepik realized one day that he had to "choose freedom" and live far from Russia precisely to be able to, serve it better.
In 1995, Chepik returned for the first time to Russia since emigrating, but the so-called democratic society he met there caused him irritation and sorrow. Once again he felt the Russian people had been betrayed in their hopes and expectations. Was that feeling the starting point of the huge composition Chepik started as soon as he returned from St. Petersburg? Golgotha (1995-1996) is a renewed and unique interpretation of the universal theme of the Crucifixion in which the artist focuses on the attitudes and expressions of those who betrayed Jesus and are attending his agony facing the holy crest which spreads its shadow on the sun burnt ground.
17 January – 15 February 2008: ‘Epifania’ – Galleria del Centre Culturel Français de Milan
2006: The Catto Gallery – 40 illustrations for the novel by M. Boulgagkov ‘La Garde Blanche’
2005: Installation of the four works of in St Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of Baroness Thatcher. Together with solo shows at The Catto Gallery, London and the Salon de ‘École Française, Paris.
2004: Masques et Miroirs exhibition at Manege, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Exhibition at Salon de ‘École Française, Paris. Solo exhibition La Guerre et la Paix at Espace Pierre Cardin, Paris.
2003: Solo exhibitions at The Catto Gallery, London and the Salon de ‘École Française, Paris. Unveiling of L’Apocalypse of Saint Jean at the Salon d’Automne à Paris.
The Catto Gallery
The Catto Gallery is one of London’s leading contemporary fine art galleries. Since founding the Gallery in 1986, Gillian Catto has built up a reputation for excellence and has created a friendly and warm environment for collectors throughout the world. The Catto Gallery represents over 50 internationally acclaimed artists all of whom can be seen on this web site. 12 exhibitions are held a year; the catalogues for these exhibitions can also be viewed on this web site.
Gallery opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday 2.30pm to 6.00pm.
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