Sergei Sergeyev

I was greatly impressed by the first work that I saw by Sergei Sergeyev. This was his portrait Vika (1977), a small oil painting on canvas). Its powerful mastery and close kinship to the old masters distinguished it from the other art of that time.

The Leningrad school of painting of the 1970s was extremely diverse and abounded with exciting personalities. Artists, however, too often formed themselves into groups; rarely did anyone allow himself a real creative personality. Sergei Sergeyev’s individuality is based on his aspiration towards perfection – perfection of content and incessant perfection of form. Assimilating the techniques of the old masters, Sergeyev also worked in engraving (etching, aquatint, dry needle), without abandoning tempera painting on canvas.

In the 1980s, Sergei Sergeyev was infected by the New Wave. This is particularly conspicuous in his portraits of that period. The artist is not one to blindly follow fashion, however, and he soon returned to his favourite subjects – metaphysical landscapes and still-lifes. In the late 1970s, when studying the art of the Northern Renaissance, Sergeyev read the works of St Thomas Aquinas and Nicholas of Cusa, without which it is impossible to truly understand fifteenth-century Netherlandish art. The influence of Russian philosophy, particularly the ideas of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Father Pavel Florensky, can be seen in his subsequent works.

Sergei Sergeyev was drawn to the ancient past and protoculture in the 1990s. Influenced by the ideas of Professor Victor Samokhvalov, Sir James Frazer and Vladimir Propp, he created a new cycle of works under the common heading of Palimpsest.

All the master’s works reflect his conscious creative quests, something not every artist can permit himself. Sergei Sergeyev does.

Timur Novikov, 2001

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