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Oleg Torchinsky

Pictures that can hang in the nursery


Sergey Zagraevsky Germany

Sergey Zagraevsky. GERMANY


The works by Sergey Zagraevsky at first sight surprise by an unusual manner, reminiscent of drawings of children: no perspective, piercingly bright colors – no half-tones or shadows. Trees, churches, houses, flowers are arranged in rows, not blocking each other...

Art critics call this style "naïve". So draw people who are far from art, – peasants and housewives, miners and foresters, police officers and dentists. Usually that are old people with a difficult destiny, who try to compensate in the works that they had not received from life, and depict their vision of earthly paradise, which they will not see in this life. They have no submission to the laws of painting and create so as they are able – simply, awkwardly, clumsy, but sincerely.

Sergey Zagraevsky is no miner or forester. He began to draw when he was 4 years old, his first teachers were his father-architect and famous artist Tatiana Mavrina, who gave him primary skills of drawing. Then he studied himself: from reproductions in albums, originals in museums. And drew, sketched always and everywhere: in Moscow Automobile Institute, where he received the profession of a programmer and worked as a senior researcher, and in the years of Perestroika, having gone to business, and in the recent troubled times, while he was the director of a subsidiary company of a reputable bank. Bank broke, and Sergey today has lots of time for creativity...

Bypassing Sergey Zagraevsky’s exhibition on the second circle, one begins to notice that the bright, strange landscapes the exposition consists of, are written by no amateur but a professional, and their "children's naïve" is skillful styling, an artistic method, which gives the author an opportunity to tell us something important. The composition in his works is always well calibrated, selection of details is thought out: nothing occasional, everything is inscribed precisely on its place. Lack of perspective and wild angles – this is also a well-designed appointment. Moreover, if there is an allusion to the normal perspective, the author purposely breaks it. As for the shrill, never mixed colors – purple, yellow, red, green, – their combining has clearly the psychedelic nature (psychedelic technique is often used in advertising: certain combinations of colors cause desired psychological mood of the viewer; on Zagraevsky’s pictures they create bright, happy mood).

Why did the artist choose for himself "naive" manner? "XX century – he says – has brought into painting black subconscious nightmares, pressing forms, dismembered bodies, perverted sexual fantasies in the spirit of Marquis de Sade. Life is really terrible, and its "truth" is always with us in its ugliness, so why to drag it into art? Art should give us what we do not have enough: light, warmth, "pure", "childish" vision, bright colors. The picture should be such that it could be safely hung in the nursery, knowing that it will not harm the baby. "Naïve” art has such properties, and I consciously choose it and do everything to make my paintings "childish". Incidentally, at all its apparent simplicity, naïve art gives an artist the highest demands, and it can not be taught in any art academy. This is more than painting, this is a state of mind”.

Landscapes by Sergey Zagraevsky include not only Russia but other countries – Germany, Austria, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Japan. But this is not a sketch from nature. The artist takes a basic impression of the landscape, its very essence, and frees associations. The "false" perspective, rivers and roads, willfully spread-eagled by diagonals, bright colors give the effect of “moving away”, suddenly making strange and mysteriously beautiful everything seen and redrawn thousand times – Moscow Kremlin, New Jerusalem, the Egyptian Sphinx, Pagoda in Kyoto. And also a miserable railway platform in suburbs and an old bench, weeping in the park under the cold autumn rain. So we see on the canvases the special world, born by imagination of the artist – joyful, kind, bright, covered with light and warmth. These pictures really can safely hang in the nursery.


Published in Russian: Газета «Московская Правда», 06.11.1998 г.