The exhibition «Two ways» that took place in November-December 2018 at St. Petersburg Art Academy in Florence shows two completely different ways of an art formation of two artists. The first way represents a drastic gap with the modern local tradition in art, provocation and a search of new art means of expression. The second – use of a tradition, taken from the classical school, as a basis for its modernization and adaptation under own author’s language.
The first way belongs to Oscar Rabin, famous artist and legendary person in the Russian art of the second half of the 20th century. Oscar Rabin, whose name is inseparably linked with the history of informal art of the Soviet Russia, always went in the direction of resistance to dogma, asserting the right for free creativity. Rabin became one of the leaders of the Russian nonconformism, direction which has torn with ideas of socialist realism of the Soviet era. His artistic route is difficult and eventful, as well as his private life. This can be referred to his underground life in the late fifties – the middle of the 60’s in the barrack building in Lianozovo, where he lived together with the spouse, artist Valentina Kropivnitskaya. Informal artists, poets and writers gathered in this place. The center of this underground association was a teacher and Oscar’s father-in-law, artist and poet Evgeny Kropivnitsky. Subsequently this community has received the name of Lianozovskaya group. Numerous artists and poets, meeting in Lianozovo, had neither anti-Soviet program nor vanguard manifesto. Participants of meetings were only united by the idea of searching for a way to art, free from dogma.
Desire to show the works publicly, to be beyond the underground stage, has induced Oscar Rabin to work resolutely. He has chosen the way to express the free art through fight against the Soviet power, starting from launching the well-known “Buldoser exhibition” in 1974 which has brought to the punishment by the authorities, damages of pictures and arrests of participants. Surprisingly, the next exhibition of the independent art in the Izmaylovsky park, has been permitted by the authorities. Nevertheless, Rabin’s participation in exhibitions and actions of the independent art, strictly prohibited in the USSR, were the cause of his expatriation to France in 1978. Deprivation of the Soviet nationality has lead to the artist’s departure. These dramatic events became an important milestone of the termination of Rabine’s first life – Soviet, and beginning of a new one – French.
In spite of the fact that Oscar Rabin’s art is inseparable from the history of the Russian nonconformism, his style is particularly individual and doesn’t fit into the main directions, even within the Russian informal art of the second half of the 20th century. Rabin’s artworks are completely free from the deliberate anti-Soviet subject. He was mainly interested in searching for his own art language, as well as for the opportunity to express himself by means, different from the socialist realism. Oscar Rabin has never followed neither the art “mainstream”, nor the conceptual lines of Sots Art. Concerning Oscar Rabin’s art, it is more important to talk not about the style, but about the life in itself. The artist’s life, in all manifestations, whether it’s a household life, emotions of the endured events or his artistic life, are expressing the Oscar Rabin’s style. His painting is a surface which “incorporates” the whole life of an artist. To endure the moment, to feel it with the soul and then to fill a canvas with these emotions – are the basic principles of Oscar Rabin’s art.
Oscar Rabine was able to create his unique iconography! He always represents those objects and images from his everyday life: barrack-building in Lianozovo, different household objects: vodka bottle, dried fish, newspaper pages. Different scale of the represented objects gives to Oscar Rabine’s artworks a surreal shade. But unlike the surrealism, it doesn’t have anything similar to the distortion of reality and images of subconsciousness. It could be characterized as the individual versatile view of what is nearby, far or close in his memory. His artworks with a patchwork stratification of the images always narrate about two different lifes of the same artist – gloomy Soviet from the one side, and light, but not completely accepted by the artist, French – from the other side. Echoes of time lived in Lianozovo sound in images of his modern artworks created in France. Oscar Rabin has connected two “stitches” in one line, a uniform trajectory of «Lianozovo-Paris».
Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk, the author going along the second way, has never resolutely refused from the traditional art language and style of academism offered by her alma mater – the St. Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Repin. In 1995 Tatyana completed postgraduate studies at the Academy of Arts, being a part of professor A.A. Mylnikov’s studio. Nevertheless, Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk always followed the way to her individual search within the academic “system”. The classical school of Academy of Arts became a stylistic support on which Tatyana was able to build her own relationship with the world of art. Even during the course of study the painting techniques of Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk has undergone through significant changes. The manner of the thin letter, traditional for her artworks, has been replaced with a more complicated impressive construction. Tatyana has managed to assert the right for her own painting technique, created by the academic school of monumental painting together with the style of expressionism, beyond the professors. Several traditions of the Russian classical painting are united at the artist’s works. These are both the tradition of the Russian realism of the second half of the 19th century and the influence of artists of a silver age, as well as the bright color expressionism, inherent in paintings of the southern regions of Russia in the 20th century.
The art of Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk is characterized by the bright color palette. Color has reached a special value for Tatyana after she has visited the residence in Cité Des Arts where her palette has strongly brightened thanks to frequent work from nature. Her paintings, as well as the artworks of her spouse, Oscar Rabine, are showing the subjective vision of the artist. Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk chooses the “impressionism” as a direction of her creative way. Impression is a motive, characterizing her approach. The art lexicon of the author is constantly replenished with new terms – impressions after meeting with new artists, other cultures and new places. Painting becomes a metaphorical space where the artist reconstructs the pieces of her everyday life, in the way she perceives it. It is a special sight, full of joy and gentle femininity. Tatyana is capable to imprint ease and beauty of the world and also the people’s characters met in course of her life.
Two of these absolutely different artists are exposed together as during a certain period of time their routes connected in Paris. And if for Oscar Rabin the new life in France became rather a compelled decision, Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk has arrived to Paris voluntarily, first to the residence in Cité Des Arts, then as an independent artist. Meeting the art of the legendary nonconformist Oscar Rabine, has exerted an impressive impact on a new series of paintings, made by Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk, now presented at the exhibition.
Two authors are united also with the fact that despite of the close connection with their authentic art contest, Russian nonconformism in Oscar Rabin’s environment, and the academic environment connected with Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk’s activity, both artists are alone in their private and creative life. Their art is distinguished by the individual handwriting and presence of personal symbols. These symbols, such as the represented surrounding objects or the repeating images, become the signs, simbolizing the important stages of the artistic way. After the two artists met, some plots of Oscar Rabin’s artworks have turned also into Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk’s works. For example, vodka bottles, fragments of magazines, characterising the art of nonconformism, together with the figures of wolves, are possible to be seen also in new artworks of Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk.
Exhibition in Florence became a significant stage for both Oscar Rabine and Tatyana Lysak-Polischuk. It is a symbolical return to the roots, to the origin place of the classical art of Renaissance, a source of inspiration and honored heritage for each artist. “Two ways” is the exhibition telling about two lives, two different trajectories of the movement to unique style which sometimes can be crossed. The exhibition was followed by Tatyana Lyssak-Polishchuk author’s master class in portrait painting with a live model.
St. Petersburg Art Academy in Florence would like to express our sincere gratitude to Tatyana Lyssak-Polishchuk.
Article in bright memory of Oscar Rabin (02/01/1928-07/112018).
Text: Elizavetа Shagina
Translation: Barbara Rubitel