Alexis Gritchenko

April 2, 1883

Krolevets, Ukraine

January 28, 1977 
Vence, France 

 

Painter, art critic,
author of memoirs

Work

Alexis (Oleksa) Gritchenko (1883 – 1977), a painter, art critic and author of memoirs, was born in Krolevets (now Sumy oblast, Ukraine), on 17 March, being one of ten children. His father, a bank clerk, died young. His mother sent Oleksa to Chernihiv ecclesiastical seminary. He got his educational certificate in Poltava after passing exams on the gymnasium curriculum. In 1905–1912 he studied in various universities — in Saint-Petersburg, Kyiv, Moscow, and got a diploma in Biology. He stayed in Moscow for some time. He studied drawing and painting in private studios of S.I. Svetoslavsky (Kyiv, 1906­-1908), K. F. Yuon and I. O. Dudin (1909–1910), P. P. Konchalovsky and I. I. Mashkov (1911–1912) in Moscow. In 1911 he visited Paris, in 1912 he travelled to various Russian cities studying ancient Russian painting. This travels were followed by a trip to Italy in 1913–1914.

 

A. Grichshenko painted impressionistic landscapes, experimented with cubism and fauvism, used the devices and imagery of Russian sacred art, Ukrainian folk pictures, Italian fresco painting. the 1910­ies he participated in a great number of exhibitions in Russia, mostly in Moscow and Petrograd. He came out with polemic reports, papers and booklets on the problems of art. He criticized the painters of his time (especially Russian cubists) for their unoriginality and poor level of professionalism.

In the beginning of World War I the painter was mobilized, but he did not go to the battle­front and kept on his art activities. In 1918 Gritchenko became a member of All Russian Monuments and Museums Board, he taught art in state art workshops, and, of course, took part in many famous exhibitions in big cities of Russia.

He was developing and promoting the painting method of tsvetodynamos based on scientific ideas on colour perception. In summer 1919, he and O. Shevchenko held an exhibition “Tsvetodynamos and Tectonic Primitivism”, in which Moscow art students took part. In the exhibition catalogue, its manifesto and a theoretical article on tsvetodynamos were published.

In the autumn 1919 the painter started to move west: first to Kyiv, then through Sebastopol to Constantinople; there he painted the old town cityscapes. An American scientist T. Wittimore, who studied ancient architecture of Constantinople, bought 66 watercolour paintings by Gritchenko. In April of 1921 the artist moved to Greece, where he painted landscapes and even managed to exhibit them in Athens.

In autumn 1921 he came to Paris through Marseilles. In February 1922 his exhibition “Blue and Pink Constantinople” in J. Povolotzky gallery gained support of arts journal «Comoëdia». He was successfully selling his works with the help of L. Zborovsky and P. Guillaume. At the end of 1920­ies Alexis Gritchenko became popular and well­to-
do artist.

In 1927 he got married. His wife Lilas Lavelaine de Maubeuge was French. He lived in Paris and also made frequent trips many places of France, Spain, Italy and Scandinavian countries. He mostly painted landscapes there.

Alexis Gritchenko held a lot of personal exhibitions in Paris in a number of galleries: Dominique (1923), Percier (1925), H. Bing (1926), К. Granoff (1926), Van Leer (1927), Druet (1929, 1930, 1933, 1936), Parvillée (1945), de l’Elysée (1947), A. Weil (1950), Bernheim­June (1957), de l’Art Moderne (1962), as well as in Madrid (1934), Barcelona (1935), Stockholm, Göteborg (1937), Limoges (1943, 1944), Strasbourg (1951, 1953, 1955), Cagnes sur Mer (1960), Toronto (1960).

He was a member of Société des Artistes Indépendants and Salon d’automne. He took part in international exhibitions both as Russian and Ukrainian artist. For example, in 1953 he took part in the exhibition of Russian émigré artists of Paris in London Redfern gallery. But he was also one of the active members of Paris Group of Ukrainian Artists, kept good contact with Association of Independent Ukrainian Artists in Lviv and took part in their exhibitions in Lviv (1931, 1933) and in Paris (1932). Gritchenko published his memoirs both in French and Ukrainian.

The artist died on 31 January 1977 in Vence (near Nice), and there he is buried. According to his will, many of his paintings were brought to National Art Museum in Kyiv. His works are present in the most well­known museums and art galleries.

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