Alexander Kharitonov

The gallery ‘Our Artists’ performed an important task, having organised a large exhibition of fine and graphic art of Alexander Kharitonov gathered from various private collections. Kharitonov is an interesting, albeit not so well-known artist of the second half of the 20th century.

How would one classify such an artist? Clearly with the Nonconformists – after all, he exhibited with them in the Malaya Gruzinskaya. His relations with the ‘official’ artists weren’t particularly cordial on either side.

On the other hand, he neither participated in artists’ unions nor did he write manifestoes. He had little interest in politics, nor did he concern himself with emigration.

The bulk of the works probably have not been seen previously. Nearly a hundred works come from family and private collections, and these cover virtually all periods of his career, starting from the earliest works of the 1950s.

Most importantly, this exhibition traces the evolution of his creativity, not just in technique but also in theme. From a slight influence by the Impressionists in his early works, Kharitonov moves to a completely independent technique of pointillism, including references to the World of Art movement and the Blue Rose, as well as a distinctive naiveté in art.

Here you see his technique – delicate and with the application of tens of layers of paint, creating an unusual surface relief.

Probably very few people in the 1970s showed as much of a consistency in their adherence to religious themes (although, to be honest, few even in clerical circles would have considered his works strictly canonical). You can see the theme in early landscapes where churches often appear in the composition.

Trinity, in honour of Andrei Sakharov. (1990).

Kharitonov’s graphical works are equally interesting – detailed and driven to the miniature.

And here’s ‘Landscape with Gogol’, although you need to look to locate Gogol.



And this is his final work, completed two days before his death.

And here is a curious series of seemingly simple abstractions: it started with Kharitonov working on figurative painting, going by the original colour composition. He then applied multiple layers of paint, and the works survived as such at the request of his family.

[Loosely translated from Tatyana Pelipeiko, АЛЕКСАНДР ХАРИТОНОВ – НИ НА КОГО НЕ ПОХОЖИЙ ХУДОЖНИК (March 17, 2012)]

2 thoughts on “Alexander Kharitonov

  1. This is so interesting! Where was the exhibition held? My favourite here is the second one, where a river flows through a town. Very colourful.

    • Moscow, in March 2012, as far as I can make out. Brilliant use of daubs pattern as well, I thought, in the last painting. (I’m possibly not using the appropriate terminology!)

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