Moscow Museum of Modern Art Present Yuri Burgelyan

Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents a new exhibition in the “Personalities” program. Yuri Burgelyan (1921-2008) is a well-known painter and teacher whose guidance helped to discover the talents of numerous contemporary artists. His works endeavour to depict a light and elusive mood that is so hard to feel in the noise and bustle of the big city. The artist experiments with the genres, mixing them – still-life with landscape, nu with still-life, portrait with landscape, etc. Yuri Burgelyan re-interprets the experience of Giorgione and Vermeer, Morandi and ancient Russian icons. His canvases lean towards a smooth matte surface, where no brushstrokes are seen, and the temperament hidden – all this should be fulfilled with the painting’s substance.

For this exhibition, works of different periods have been chosen, so that the spectator can glimpse through the whole career of the artist. So, the display is organized in chronological order and includes early works, mature period, as well as late and unfinished pieces.

Yuri Konstantinovich Burjelyan (1921-2008) is one of the pillars of the Moscow painting school, well known for his devotion to this artistic genre. During the long years of teaching painting, drawing and composition at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute, he managed to transmit his enthusiasm to several generations of young artists.

Yuri Konstantinovich treated painting not as a simple medium, which happens so often today. Painting, with all its specifics, embodied the whole visual culture for him. However, the artist’s oeuvre has gone through considerable changes: from naïve realistic art of late Stalinist era through the tradition of Moscow Impressionism to his own version of neoclassic. This version is based on the Western European artistic culture rather than on the tradition of pre-war Soviet modernism. Burjelyan independently re-interpreted the art of Cézanne and passed through the Cubist perspective. However, the official style of Soviet painting of the 30s, be it somewhat epigone to Impressionism, helped Burjelyan to overcome Cubist temptations and create a new and contemporary type of picture, without abandoning the painterly quality and skills.

The compositions of Burjelyan’s late paintings are always carefully constructed, and their technique denies all spontaneity of work. The pictorial layers look almost like encaustic: the surface is smooth and glossy, sometimes cracked, as if the master put layers after layers and then peeled them off, dissatisfied with the result. Looking for perfection, the artist painted and repainted each picture for a long time. It seemed that the painting didn’t have any preliminary sketches but resulted in a series of experiments and change of composition and colour that have their own artistic value.

Yuri Burgelyan was born in Rostov-on-the-Don in 1921. In 1937-1941, he studied at the Architectural Faculty for Workers. In 1941, entered the Surikov Moscow State Art Institute, and in 1942 was called up to the army. In 1945, he was discharged of military service and reinstated in the institute. There he studied under professors Chikmazov, Gritsai, Korin, and graduated in 1953.

Since 1955, he is member of the Moscow Union of Artists, in 1954-1981 delivered painting and drawing lessons at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. He took part in many Russian and international exhibitions. Yuri Burgelyan’s works are kept in public and private collections both in Russia and abroad.

Dates: May 30 — June 21
Venue: Moscow Museum of Modern Art at 25 Petrovka Street, 1st floor
Opening: May 29, 5pm