This autumn Bonhams present Russian Sale that will take place on November, 25. One of the lots is a remarkable work by Ukrainian artist Sima Vassilieva “Family Tree”. Painted on wood, “Family Tree” presents a deeply personal lyrical survey of the history of two families, Russian and Jewish, joined together as two trees intertwined by roots and branches. And in the heap of leaves under them, the inscriptions appear in Russian and English, as from the Genealogy of Christ, only from the artist’s genealogy: Nahum begat David, David begat Sima, And his wife’s name was Sima. This is not an accurate genealogical account, this is the story of people and the time they lived in.

SIMA VASSILIEVA (RUSSIAN, BORN 1954). “Family Tree”, signed in Latin and dated ’95’ (lower middle), mixed media on wood 130 x 70cm

Sima Vassilieva was born in Ukraine in 1954. A graduate of Moscow State University she has been painting since 1980 and has taken part in numerous prestigious exhibitions. She began to work on wooden boards, with an unusual technique, creating colour-saturated pictures infused with humour and a sense of the grotesque, combined with deep lyricism. Nowadays she works in a range of media and techniques.

SIMA VASSILIEVA (RUSSIAN, BORN 1954). “Family Tree”, signed in Latin and dated ’95’ (lower middle), mixed media on wood 130 x 70cm

Sima was working from London since 1990. From mid 90s she started to explore her family roots, and the subject became the inspiration for her works ever since, recently resulting in a new series “The Genetic Memories”. 

“This is definitely very high quality work. Very personal, but at the same time reaching out to everyone. ” Igor Tsukanov, art collector, Founder at Tsukanov Family Foundation

SIMA VASSILIEVA (RUSSIAN, BORN 1954). “Family Tree”, signed in Latin and dated ’95’ (lower middle), mixed media on wood 130 x 70cm

“The Family Tree conveys our deep rooted need for connection and belonging. The themes explored in this work are at once universal and accessible while at the same time deeply personal and unique. The tree resonates with anyone who is intrigued by the tangled branches of genealogy and history.” Masha Hinich, Israel Art and Culture

SIMA VASSILIEVA (RUSSIAN, BORN 1954). “Family Tree”, signed in Latin and dated ’95’ (lower middle), mixed media on wood 130 x 70cm

“Sima Vassilieva’s Tree painting is a perfect example of her wonderfully playful and colourful narrative style. Painting a huge tree on a large piece of wood is a kind of visual pun and Sima’s painted tree resonates with the varnished bark of the wood beneath. The pun allows her to tell the story of the many branches of her family history, and bring to life a rich and funny combination of Russian and Jewish myth, history and culture. Entire families perch like birds on every branch, drawing you in to inspect the miniature details of their faces and imagine their squabbles and dramas. Stretching up against a sunset sky, the crowded families suggest gatherings in cramped Soviet trains or communal flats or peasant huts, and their closeness brings the many generations into the present. Since Sima painted the tree her family has extended in both directions, bringing her grandchildren and newly rediscovered relatives in the US and Europe. The tree continues to grow and the life in Sima’s painting continues to bubble.” Jessika Kaner, artist’s friend

SIMA VASSILIEVA (RUSSIAN, BORN 1954). “Family Tree”, signed in Latin and dated ’95’ (lower middle), mixed media on wood 130 x 70cm