Artist work critique by Rudolf Zaslavsky.
Andrey Sterkhov belongs to those artists, who for more than a quarter of a century have determined the level and trend of Russian and Ukranian art. This art is more well-known by the domestic and foreign art collectors than the general public realizes. Sterkhovs’ inherent interest in art is deeply intellectual which comes not only from the direct perception of nature and humankind, but from understanding and transformation of such great Russian works of art. His works, whether watercolor or oil paintings, are filled with profound meaning, characterized by brilliant pictorial art, deeply philosophical understanding and full of inner lyric images of sensuality.
Andrey Sterkhov was born in 1960 in Glazov, Russia. He started drawing when he was two years old. Andrew studied at the art studio between the agers of 10 and 15. The honored artist of the USSR, A.K. Kashparov, taught the young Sterkhov. In 1976, Andrey enrolled into Vizhitskoe art school of applied and decorative arts and was graduated with honors in 1980.
He also continued his education by enrolling into the Lviv Academy of Decorative and applied arts in 1981 and was graduated from it in 1986.
Intense interest in the events and phenomena of life, which are innate in youth, the desire to embrace and to embody the quintessence of the experience, and emotions which the art evokes in the soul and mind. This differentiates his work during the 90’s, when he painted mostly in watercolors. Serious interest in watercolors in Sterkhov’s early creative work, is associated with a profoundly distinctive watercolor style as well as his a acquaintance with Nikolai Fedorovich Berezhnoy, the people’s artist of the Ukraine. Sterkhov ‘s meeting with Berezhnoy, spurred on his artistic career. Since 1987, Andrey began his exhibition activity.
In 1990 to 1993 Sterkhov robustly exhibited his work in England’s art Galleries, such as London’s Red Square Gallery, David Harrington Gallery, Arnhem Gallery and the Croydon Art Gallery in Croydon, England. In 1992, he had a solo exhibition at the Croydon Art Gallery.
Artist Sterkhov confirms a wide range of the feature watercolors, allowing his technique to include not only the traditional landscape, still life and portrait, but also to create a soft of watercolor painting, full of deep content and perfect composition with use of plastics. His watercolor is almost invariably based on the synthesis. He uses a clear, detailed plot and thematic basis. It embodies the concept of a coherent artistic work.
This period of Sterkhov’s creative work, as noted by Moscow art critics, is strongly influenced by the current neo-romanticism in the arts.
The artist’s work during the London period, such as, “Rus”, “Dream of the ancient city”, and especially “Passing traditions”, clearly demonstrate Sterkhov’s desire to reflect in the metaphorical nature of the artistic image of the significance of historical processes, with deep comprehension and their content.
They are distinguished works with vibrant allegorical imagers, the breath of generalization, good color scheme, rich flavor that enhances the truly humanistic interpretation of the topic. In 1994 Andrey Sterkhov performed his first artistic tour to Italy and fell in love with Venice. The Carnival of Venice becomes the favorite theme for the artist. He paints the thought with clusters of color and sounds. A picturesque structure of his works, get even more complicated: it becomes richer color, varied textures and deeper composition. His artistic thinking becomes more philosophical.
Sterkhov’s paintings like “ The breath of spring”, “The Carnival in Venice”, “Kiss Bauta”, “Charm of Venice”, “Masks at the San Marco”, “Masquerade”, “Memories of Venice”; all were dedicated to the famous Venice Carnival. They are partially beautiful and expressive almost to a monumental scale.
In these paintings, the artist pushes the time frame beyond a certain point with associative moves, invisibly connective to the past and future. These works combine the real and the fictional, creating his own unique, visual of Venice. The author invites the viewer into the mysterious world, where the fine line of the everyday reality is erased and a miraculous atmosphere comes true for the observer.
The complex allegorical overtones, ambiguity of associated parallels, philosophical transformation of reality are the aspects of the shadows, light and contrast of Sterkhov’s artistic imagery works of this period.
The world of the artist is revealed in his works.
Andrey Sterkhov world is sparkling in sunny palaces of Venice, covered with a patina of centuries, caressing the cool, majestic, silkiness of the carnivals and expanses of water. Slim silhouettes of cathedrals with expressive contours, peaked spires, smooth movement of the gondoliers excites the eyes that look for more fine details. A sea of gold, luxury dresses, noble silver lace and jewelry make the majestic world of carnival. This world can be eternal and fleeting, delicate and fragile at the same time. The works are powerful, imbued with feeling, kindness and strength of spirit evoking huge, diverse and live changes that stand out to make statement.
After a careful study of detail, a subtle sense of distinctive, seductive color, the artist reveals to us his image of Venice, in which he tries to combine the past and present of this city. He unravels his mysterious soul to his observers and in evokes the same experience with them.
His first works, of Venetian subjects, are studies and stretches of the urban landscape. What is seen for the first time is always interesting, unexpected, very emotional and impartial. In this style, technique and imagery may be different, but one thing unites them is love of Sterkhov to the urban landscape.
During this time period, the artist has visited many museums in Venice, Rome, and is introduced to the rich heritage of Italian Art, focusing his attention on the Masters, who praised their work in Venice landscape. Some of the great artist he had studied thoroughly, right down to the smallest detail, delving into the secrets of paintings by Old Masters.
A little later, he discovered the Uffizi Gallery and the Pitti Palace in Florence, the Louvre museum, and Orsay de Paris.
He paid special attention to the Veduta – the Venetian painting genre of the 18th century which depicted the urban landscape as a panorama in compliance with the scale and proportions. The great representatives of this style of painting are venetian artist Canaletto ( 1697-1768 ) and Francesco Guardi ( 1712-1793 ). Their commitment to the scenic values and transfer of atmospheric affects largely contributed to the start of the 19th century impressionism.
The firsthand active observation of the world artistic heritage allowed Sterkhov to enrich the expressive possibilities of art reflected in his most direct methodology. It not only defined the elements of his style, but also silently told the stories behind some of the work.
The influence of the Veduta’s genre is clearly seen in all the important works of the author,
Creating a sublime image of a majestic, beautiful city of water. Since 1994 Sterkhov has been exhibiting in Petra Art Gallery, Osvaldo Bohm Art Gallery in Venice, San Giorgio Gallery, Portofino and Ponte Vecchio Gallery in Florence. After ten years of hard work had passed, his paintings dramatically improved artistic maturity and bright personality become very noticeable. The distinctive feature of these paintings is the author’s desire to create an emotionally rich, lyrical and epic image of Venice where there is always a connection between the past, present and future.
The paintings like “View of the affairs of the Church de la Salute”, “Charming Venice”, “The Church le la Salute”, “House of Vagkner, Venice”, “San Marco”, not only portray the visual of the object’s space, unfolding along the vector of the time in his paintings. These paintings have depth of feeling. Slow reading of the complex show a “stratified” spatially dynamic mood.
The artist compels us to go deeper into the work, paving the route that is predefined by the composition. This is an exiting slow moment that draws us beyond the directly designated time and space. The works take observer on a ride of twists and turns, which changes the speed and direction. The artful eye stops and the story behind the painting had revealed. The space of the painting suddenly unfolds as a “living space” with its epic intensity, complexity and depth, with its sharp, aching lyrics.
In the Venetian theme, the artist strives to capture the reasons for the majestic beauty of the forms and rhythms of this attractive city on the water, which reaches the exceptional inner ear or musicianship. Sterkhov creates a wonderfully expressive effect and builds space at the same time enriching the color to intense sonority. The content of his paintings during this period is to be found in the remarkable accuracy of the details. However, observations indicate alloy and
plastic failure in some of the paintings. Trill of life, a sense of authenticity of the moment, a particular emotional depth and a spiritual center does not simply create a concrete image, but shows the atmosphere of human existence and nature of their amazing fusion. Despite the lyrical orchestration of these works, they might not be clearly read and still have a sense of mystery, understatement and foreboding.
A sense of stately serenity is transmitted in each of the paintings. The strength and depth of the relationship of light and contrasting shadows in architecture and the fantastic effects, color – grandeur of his compositions inspire richness and psychologically a depth and compassion for humanity.
The artist admits that he keeps falling in love with Venice while creating in his works its majestic and beautiful images over and over again. Sterkhov’s paintings, with their bright independent merits are noteworthy for originality of the creative personality of the author, his temperament and his ability to paint with broad strokes.
A characteristic feature of the artist’s style is that he worked for many years as a watercolorist. In his oil paintings these two seemingly incompatible works intricately reunites on the canvas and help him to bring the charm to his world. He makes collectors around the world identify and appreciate him among other artists.
His works are represented in galleries and private collections in France, England, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, United States, Russia and Ukraine.