French (Fr)English (United Kingdom)
ABOUT THE ARTIST (by Werner van den Belt)

The Dutch Years would also have been an equally appropriate subtitle for this catalogue on Belo¬russian artist ANDREJ ZADORINE. In this five-year period beginning with the introduction of his work in Amsterdam in 1995, he was able to work in peace on an oeuvre peopled by figures in a highly personal world. He has since settled in the Netherlands.

There is clearly evidence of new work that can be characterized as a fusion of two earlier styles, a linear and a pictorial one. Zadorine began painting in a linear, drawing-like style focused upon recognition of the motif. Under French influence, he worked with flat planes and adopted a picturesque style centred around colour and form. There are also thematic differences with his earlier work. Solitary figures in a melancholy universe have been replaced by individuals who are observed and painted in a more philosophical fashion. The world is no longer constructed by the artist in much the same way as his historical predecessors. It is now approached with the seemingly casual glance of a twentieth-century film-maker or photographer.

ANDREI ZADORINE is part of a generation of Belorussian artists who experienced the limitations of Soviet rule as well as the new political and cultural openness of perestroyka. He was born in 1960 near the town of Berezovka in the Russian Ural Mountains, but grew up in an intellectual enclave near Minsk in Belarus. His father was an engineer and his mother a cardiologist. As a child he was always drawing and was a great admirer of Rembrandt's though all he saw were black and white reproductions of his work. It was mainly the melodramatic atmosphere that appealed to him. He was not alone in this preference, for his compatriot Marc Chagall had already described the human aspect of the Dutch master's paintings as "East Slavic".

Zadorine attended the art academy in Minsk in the early eighties (1980-1984). Strict doctrines were still adhered to at the time in Belarus, though Russia was quite openly
entering the international scene. Along traditional socialist lines, Zadorine learned to produce social realistic art, i.e. recognizable art with social themes for the people and by the people.

As a young artist, Zadorine did not resist the limitations as regards technique and theme alike. He was more interested in the work of American artist Andrew Wyeth who attracted so much attention in Russia at the time with his interiors and landscapes.

For his final examination, Zadorine painted Souvenir (1984), a self-portrait of the artist surrounded by like-minded intellectual friends. Though it bears a strong resemblance to social realism, it also reveals a calm look to the future.

After the art academy Zadorine did a post-academic course of study from 1987 to 1991 with renowned state artist Michael Savitsky. It enabled him to work professionally with a good salary, art supplies and a studio. The paintings he made in this period are interiors and historical pieces such as Landscape-like Interior (1989) and The Mournful Meeting in Kuropaty (1988), alluding to a ceremony in the woods of Minsk where mass graves were found dating back to the Stalin era. The painting caused quite a stir, but more because of the technique than the subject. The depictions were no longer academically painted, they were "modern" with ample attention devoted to colour and form. This formalism, as it was called, was not appreciated by his new mentor, who felt it detracted from the meaning of the work. What is more, it was not viewed as illustrating the pan-Slavic culture and was consequently rejected.The end of the period with Savitsky coincided with Zadorine's first trip to Paris.
In 1990, a year so crucial to Zadorine's art, he saw examples of assumedly decadent and untrue formalism with his own eyes for the first time, i.e. the Western art of the French cubists and the Parisian school. The external appearance of his own paintings changed immediately, the cool colours were replaced by a warmer palette and the paintings became more like sketches, more modern. In a series of naively painted, almost monochrome small canvases, it is clear how strong this French influence was decisive.

Public collections

 

Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Ministry of Culture of the USSR, Moscow.
USSR Art Fund, Moscow.
National Art Museum of Belarus, Minsk.
State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia
Ministry of Culture of Belarus, Minsk.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsk.
The British Museum, London.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Musée de la mode, Palais du Louvre, Paris.

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