Russian Artworks Painting 20th Century Modern Nonconformist 1980s New Artists A Strict Youth (Portrait of Georgy Guryanov)

A Strict Youth (Portrait of Georgy Guryanov)

Artist: Timur Novikov
Date: 1987
Media: Acrylic paint on canvas
Dimensions: 170 x 130 cm
Ownership: Ludwig Museum in the Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Provenance:
Property of Georgy Guryanov (until 1995)
A Strict Youth (Portrait of Georgy Guryanov)

 

A Strict Youth (Portrait of Georgy Guryanov) was first exhibited in January 1989 at the From Unofficial Art to Perestroika exhibition, alongside the paintings of the New Wild Ones and the Necrorealists. This juxtaposition suggests that Timur Novikov’s portrait of Georgy Guryanov was regarded as the beginning of “accurate tendencies” in the oeuvres of the Expressionist members of the New Artists.

The smooth painting contrasts sharply with the compositional format. The figure of the youth does not fit into the format, recalling the aesthetics of Socialist Realism and the attempt to enclose chaotic Surrealist material in a network of classical regularity. The classical statuary nature is parodied in the evenly painted sea.

The stencilled stripes on the oar are reminiscent of the designs for the Russian Telegraph Agency in the 1920s and represent membership of the Club of Friends of Vladimir Mayakovsky. The title hints at Abram Room’s banned film A Strict Youth (1936), which was a major influence on both the artist and the sitter.

Georgy Guryanov was an artist who painted athletes and sailors, often using himself as the model and Soviet sports photographs of the 1930s as his compositional sources. This work can be regarded as a transitional stage between the Neo-Expressionism of the mid-1980s and the New Academy of Fine Arts.

Georgy Guryanov was an artist who painted athletes and sailors, often using himself as the model and Soviet sports photographs of the 1930s as the compositional sources. The accurate tendencies and A Strict Youth can be regarded as a transitional stage between the Neo-Expressionism of the mid-1980s and the New Academy of Fine Arts – a sentimental but often Dadaist version of the new Renaissance.

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