The second artist to be given a one-man show at the new Ikra Gallery in London’s Mayfair will be Konstantin Gneushev, known and admired in Russia for the pastels he has been producing for half a century.
War and injury interrupted his studies, but he graduated in 1950 from Moscow’s Stroganoff Art College. He lives in Moscow with his wife, sculptress Marina Denisenko, who herself fought in the war as a tank crewmember.
Gneushev’s pastels, as Russian critic Yuri Djuzhenko has written, exude brightness and freshness of colour. His subjects are mainly landscapes, still life and the human nude. His landscape is of sunlight, of awaiting blossom...Gneushev’s still life is always festive and welcoming. His works are presented in museums in Russia and a number are in private collections worldwide.
The gallery, which opened in July 2002 with an exhibition of aquatints by Vladimir Basmanov, is devoted to modern Russian artists. Spirited young proprietress Lali Asratova believes passionately that they are greatly undervalued in the West.
An amateur painter since her Moscow childhood, Lali trained as a paediatrician and worked in Russian and British hospitals before returning to her first love and setting up Ikra. In running the gallery she is able to draw on years of contact with Russia’s artistic community.
Among other outstanding artists scheduled to go on show at the Ikra in coming months are Yuri Vasiliev, whose output is less traditional in style than that of Basmanov or Gneushev, and Tatiana Ilyina, whose chosen medium is batik.
Lali is convinced that such people, including some who developed impressive moral strength during the rigours of the Soviet era, have far more to offer the world than it has yet understood.
Gneushev is an unusual human being. Now aged 80, he is remarkable for his youthful vitality. The same vitality characterises his pictures - all the more striking for the fact that he went through a long period of near-blindness after being terribly wounded as a young officer in the Second World War. During the same period he underwent 40 operations to rebuild his face and restore his sight.
24 x 40 cm