BY LIUDMILA BUCHNEVA
Yuri Tarasov (1929–1998) was born on July 4, 1929 in Kamenka village of the Moscow region. The creative development of Yuri in painting was long and diverse. He spent his childhood and began to study painting seriously in a former Morozov’s estate by the Rozhaika River near Moscow in 1945, when he was 16 years old. His first sketches, created in 1948 in the small Tatar village of Kozy (Eastern Crimea), initiated a process of deep and professional training in painting. Later he continued this training in the studio of a remarkable person and pedagogue Mikhail Ivanovich Kurilko at Surikov Arts Institute. Suzdal, work in Moscow theaters, Novorossijsk, trips to the North, Ural, Central Asia, travels by the Volga river, life in Moscow in a shared apartment by the Patriarchy Ponds and life in the dying Russian country, folks and books — all of this led to the creation of paintings with full liberation, regardless of the reflection of the moment.
Although Yuri Tarasov began to exhibit his paintings in 1957 and joined the allied Painters Association in 1960, he often was out of place in stagnant former-Soviet society. His avant-garde pictures of the sixties and the early seventies were not exhibited, nor was his large canvas named “Levitan” (the time of its creation coincided with the first wave of Jewish emigration), his picture “Apartment № 11” (dedicated to the famous novel by Mikhail Bulgakov), or the portraits of his relatives and friends. Some of these pictures were rejected right away; others were accepted by authorities and shown in All-Union catalogues, but “forgotten” in the basements of Moscow Manege (Art Gallery).
These events did not influence the artist – he was engaged in new projects. Since the end of the seventies Yuri Tarasov had been painting still life artworks with Russian domestic items: samovars, pancakes, pirogy, Kuznetsovky china and burning candles; they are very popular and have spread all over the world. At the same time he began to paint his “Alupka” and “Eastern Crimea” series, resulting in portraits of Marina Tsvetaeva and Maksimilian Voloshin. His series “The Winters of Central Asia” were also created at this time.
The memoirs of Nadezhda Mandelshtam had a great influence on the artist. He went back to the ancient town of Cherdyn in Ural and opened an exhibition at the city museum, which was dedicated to Cherdyn’s history in the tragic ‘30s and a tragedy of Russian poet Osip Mandelshtam. Yuri Tarasov donated his painting “Mandelshtam in Cherdyn” to Cherdyn’s Museum.
In 1991 the artist moved to Vilnius with his family. He had been working on the same themes in painting for several years and then with an incredible creative drive created 11 paintings dedicated to Paris. In later years the artist lived mainly in the country. Close contact with nature in the Vilnius region and the domestic life of peasants became productive for his work. Paintings by Yuri Tarasov found new color and form. His still life became natural and forcible in shapes and figures, and looked like they were expressing completeness of a divine plan. At that time Tarasov was going through a period of delight in artistic freedom. “I’m not getting tired from work’’, he said; and plenty of new works dated 1998 confirmed it. We expected more still life artworks and landscapes, but in their place the series of paintings called “Blue Romance” were born. All attributes of romance were unified here: cultural reminiscence, slight sentimentality, deep humanity and unforgettable melody.
At the age of 69 in 1998 Yuri Tarasov died in Vilnius city, Lithuania.
As an artist Yuri Tarasov was one of the strongest painters in the Soviet Union and later Lithuania. He is listed in most catalogues and publications of Soviet and Russian artists. “United Artists Rating” Russia’s largest and most recognized artists’ index, rates Yuri as a “fully developed professional artist demanded by the art market”. His talent had no borders, while professionalism and a creative approach were second nature to him. As the son of the Head of the Supreme Council of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Yuri had an opportunity to become one of the best-know artists in the Soviet Union, but he never wanted fame or money, strongly believing that great art must bring recognition and not the other way around. Ignoring the opportunities life gave him, committed only to his art and his family, Yuri Tarasov, nevertheless, became one of the top artists not only in Moscow but in the entire USSR. The recognition that he so carefully avoided inevitably came to him after each and every one of his exhibitions. His art spoke for itself.
Yuri’s fantastic vision and ability to show the true Russian classical art school with a touch of modern European trends made his paintings highly controversial in Soviet society. On the one hand this created obstacles in his art path, and on the other it brought him that dreaded fame. After the fall of the Soviet Union Yuri moved to Vilnius and began his career and art life all over again. In Vilnius he created many new artworks that traveled all over Europe and the world, winning wide fame and recognition for their beauty and professionalism. Many of these artworks are now in the DMT Collection of Fine Art, where they continue the legacy of this great artist.
Even though Yuri Tarasov began exhibiting his work in 1957 he was not that interested in showing off his work. The artist felt that it distracted him from the painting. Tarasov participated in exhibitions quite regularly until 1980, but not so often after that. Here are some of the exhibitions that were memorable for the artist:
1959 Exhibition “Young Artists of Moscow”, Moscow
1961 Exhibition “Young Artists of Moscow”, Moscow
1961 Exhibition “Seascapes: Artists of the Russian Federation”, Moscow
1976 Personal exhibition. Union of Moscow’s Artists, Moscow
1976 Exhibition “Modern Soviet Art”, Sapporo, Japan
1984 Exhibition “Russian North”, Moscow
1990 Personal exhibition. City Museum of Cherdyn, Russia
1992 Exhibition. Russian Cultural Centre Gallery, St. Petersburg, Russia
1992-1998 Annual exhibitions of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania
1992 Exhibition “115 Anniversary of Maximilian Voloshin”, Vilnius, Lithuania
1995 Art exhibition “Two months in Paris”, Vilnius, Lithuania
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