The Collected Works of Boris Chetkov


Chetkov both inherits and reinvents the traditions of Russian art. He was a bold experimenter who took artistic risks which resulted in the creation of original and stunning images. He developed his own unique unofficial artistic style. We could describe his work as a new hybrid of Fantastic Realism and Primitivism. Chetkov through the course of his life, and the depth and breadth of his expression, ultimately could be said to have created his own school which we can call ‘Experimentalism’. Rather than overtly political or conceptual, his school of painting depicts a spiritual and folkloric impression of rural Russia. He repeatedly returned to the places and influences of his childhood. Religion, everyday life and the raw forms and colours of nature are themes extensively explored in Chetkov’s works. They often take the form of gestural compositions in varying degrees of abstraction.

His Experimentalist style mixes elements of folk art and primitivism, spirituality and the Russian avant-garde. Chetkov’s oeuvre is visually and thematically reminiscent of the early works of Kandinsky, Goncharova and Lentulov. However, his choice of subjects and attraction to nature also recalls the strong tradition of landscape painting in Russia. His works allude to the traditions established by Shishkin, Levitan, Kuindzhi­­ and other early masters of the genre. Chetkov stated that “creativity is a state of experimentation.” While he claimed he never consciously followed the influence of these earlier masters, we can easily see comparisons with their work. In carving his own path, Chetkov established himself as an important contributor and ­­­­spiritual heir to this Russian artistic legacy.

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Prior Exhibitions

Faces of Russia

The diversity of early abstract and avant-garde styles which flourished within Russia during the early 20th Century began to fade with the advent of the Soviet Empire. Soviet Realism, the “depiction of reality in its revolutionary development” is approved in 1934 as the official art of the USSR. All other genres are suppressed and the revolutionary artists work solely underground. The Pushkin Collection here presents enigmatic portraits of Russians during the Soviet-era...

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Beautiful Resistance

In a time when artistic content was strictly mandated to espouse only the virtues of Soviet ideology, this inspiring group of artists chose to work outside of the tenets set forth by the repressive totalitarian regime, often at a great cost. These painters had a voice that could not be repressed. In spite of the many hardships and persecution that they faced, each of these artists never betrayed their true inner spirit - choosing to convey the beautiful and the elegant.

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Exhibition Archive