On 28th November, the team of the Russian Art and Culture celebrated the London launch of Dynamocolour — the first monograph on the oeuvre of the Ukrainian-Russian avant-garde artist Alexis Gritchenko written by the art historian Vita Susak. The event took place during the Russian Art Week at the Shapero Rare Books Gallery, in the immediate vicinity of Sotheby’s auction house.
The event was co-hosted with the French-Ukrainian collectors Marina Litvinchuk (the director of Malabar Art LTD) and Michel Lièvre Markovitch. Markovitch, who is a financier, went in his young days to the Chernihiv region to look for his roots, but instead he literally discovered works by Alexis Gritchenko — the artist from Krolovets who lived and died in France. Very soon afterwards, he amassed what is likely to be the largest private collection of works by Gritchenko. Michel may undoubtedly be considered amongst the leading experts on the artist and his creative legacy.
To demonstrate the scope of the thorough-going academic research done on the artist and his life, Markovitch invited the author of the monograph Vita Susak, who gave a most enlightening lecture on the artistic origins and inspirations of Alexis Gritchenko, his theory of the dynamocolour and his artistic vision, while drawing astonishing parallels between Gritchenko’s art and the art of his Russian contemporaries, such as Lentulov or Konchalovsky, or the French contemporaries, such as Robert Delaunay or Marc Chagall.
Taught in his youth by such great names as Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin, he also eagerly learned from the French avant-garde works in the Schukin and Morozov collections. An outstanding colourist, Gritchenko is also known to have been invited to join the artistic group Jack of Diamonds, as well as praised by Fernand Léger on his watercolours of Constantinople in 1921. In 1918 Gritchenko’s painting the Bridge was acquired by the Tretyakov Gallery, which must certainly have been the crowning point of his artistic career.
Indeed, there were many striking parallels vividly demonstrating that Gritchenko
was one of these outstanding talents of the early 20th century, who fell into obscurity after the impetus of the early avant-garde was over. The guests kept discovering with an ever-increasing astonishment that they had previously been ignorant of the work and life of a major figure in the history of the 20th century art. Fortunately, the artist starts to emerge from oblivion owing to the long- standing efforts of Litvinchuk and Markovitch.
The richly illustrated volume presented at the launch was by all means the labour of love and painstaking scholarship. The event attracted serious academic scholars, art collectors, artists and art – dealers who also expressed their excitement at learning about the new figure representing the links between the Russian, French and Ukrainian avant-garde.
To prove this point, there were at least a dozen works by Gritchenko displayed at the Shapero Rare Books, so that the guests could enjoy the original paintings by the artist and feel their immediate striking impact.
The guests were greeted and welcomed by the owner of the Russian Art and Culture Natasha Butterwick. It was much to her efforts that the book launch and lecture took place in a friendly, beautiful and comfortable atmosphere. The guests were served champagne and canapés by the team of the prestigious Mayfair club Morton’s.
Russian Art and Culture were pleased to help promote the name of the outstanding artist of the early 20th century, whose name, we do hope, will sooner or later be reinstated among his great peers.