Nicolai Petrovich Sochnev
Nicolai P Sochnev was born in 1930 in the city of Voronezh, Russia, the heart of the Central Black Earth Region. Located between Moscow and the great southern steppes, this is one of the richest agricultural and cultural regions of Russia.
Nicolai was in love with art from his earliest years. In school he excelled in drawing and painting, making it clear that art would be his life. He attended the art school in Penza where he graduated in 1949. At this time he did what every other young and healthy Russian male was obligated to do--put in his time in the army. Upon his return to civilian life he again picked up his art studies, this time at the Penza Academy of Art, a school at the university level. After a short time however, his tremendous skills allowed him to be accepted at the Repin Academy in St. Petersburg--one of the top two schools in Russia at the time as well as today. He graduated in 1956 and returned to his home in Voronezh in 1957.
Nicolai was quickly swept into the rich cultural life that existed in Voronezh.
Russia was recovering from the devastation of the Great Patriotic War and Khruschev was creating a cultural "thaw" after the death of Stalin in 1953. It was a heady and creative time in Russia for artists. With the fall of communism in 1991 the rest of the world was suddenly given the opportunity to see the tremendous work that was done at that time.
As with all Russians who had witnessed the destruction of the war Nicolai Sochnev wanted only to reclaim the beauty of his homeland-to show that no matter what the world threw out she would come back-even more beautiful than before. His first participation in a juried Zonal Exhibition took place in 1956. From then until his death he was seen as one of the most creative spokesman for the creative life, filling the spectators with a vision of the world through his heart almost as if they had created it themselves.
Nicolai Sochnev always was striving to record the world in such a way as to create a sense of actually being there, to etch into the viewer's mind a sense of saturation and harmony, the world and the people being in complete unity. He was keenly aware that one could not exist without the other. He wanted the viewer to see the world not only through his eyes but as if they were actually looking through his eyes. Photos were never used.
Landscapes were created plein air-capturing even the very essence of the earth. His desire was to show the viewer the world around us in a beautiful and significant way. His motifs were always concrete and challenging, reflecting not only the world of that period but of every period. From art he wanted only one thing, to show a world without setting limits and to do it with sympathy and lovingness. Sochnev's landscapes create a world of excitement and mystery but with modesty that forbids any saccharin sweetness or nostalgia. Every season is shown with the same exacting exuberance. The subject matter is at once stimulating and calming, creating an emotional impact on the viewer.
The same wonder that Nicolai Sochnev brought to his landscapes can be enjoyed in his portraits. Every portrait is of a real person living in a real world, inviting us in for a look-an experience-the opportunity to get to know that person and the history of whom that person is. The model for Sochnev was never just a model or "life study"-he or she was a person painted so we as an audience could get to know them as he did. They are as alive and lively today as they were in the 1950's and 1960's when they sat for him.
Nicolai Sochnev did not neglect the still life or consider it a lesser genre. He gave those flowers and objects the same attention and liveliness that he gave to landscape and portraiture. Every subject was important to him because life was important to him. All things worked together with Nicolai to create a harmony and peacefulness that made him a most respected and beloved artist from his era.
Nicolai P. Sochnev died in 1993
Oil on Board
Size: 19.5" x 27.5"
Signature in Cyrillic lower right and reverse