Hryshchenko, Oleksa

La Mer ã Héraclée
Watercolor
9.8 x 15 in
Oleksa Hryshchenko, also known in the West as Alexis Gritchenko, played a prominent role in the Moscow avant-garde art scene, both as a painter and a theorist, by seeking to reconcile the Western and Eastern avant-gardes. Born in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine,  the artist studied philology and biology at the universities in Kyiv, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, but around 1910, decided to devote himself entirely to art, focusing on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism.

Hryshchenko combined an interest in the icon and early Renaissance art with Cubism.  He found that the icon painters of ancient Rus applied “Cubist” solutions to problems of space and color. In 1913 and 1917, the artist produced two monographs on the icon.  In his own work, Hryshchenko blended cosmopolitanism with Byzantine formal conventions. In 1919, together with Aleksandr Shevchenko, Hryshchenko mounted an exhibition in Moscow entitled, “Tsvetodinamos i Tektonicheskii Primitivizm” (Colordynamos and Tectonic Primitivism), which was conceived as a counterbalance to graphic and production art. The two artists announced that only color, composition, and “faktura” interested them. From 1919 through 1921, Hryshchenko lived in Istanbul where he painted hundreds of watercolors, and then settled in France where he became renowned for his exotic streams of sun-drenched color inspired by Eastern Mediterranean landscapes.

The artist was denied recognition in the former Soviet Union because his avant-gardism was painterly and not political, and also because he was considered a traitor for leaving the country. As a result, his canvases were destroyed and his name removed from art history.

Hryshchenko has been exhibited in leading Parisian art galleries, and during the 1930s he held numerous solo exhibitions in Lviv and New York. The artist’s works are widely held in museums and private collections, particularly in France, North America, and Ukraine. Hryshchenko died in 1977 in Vence, France.

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