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Exhibition "Once there lived a painter…"
Lev Burlutsky (1932 - 2005)

25 September – 19 October 2008

The exhibition is dedicated to the cherished memory of a wonderful painter Lev Anatolevich Burlutsky. He was born in 1932 in Penza. In 2005 the course of his life came to its end in Moscow. In 1973 Lev Burlutsky graduated from Moscow Specialized College for Arts and Industry (now Moscow State University for Arts and Industry named after Sergei Stroganov). He earned his living with the help of his specialization – decorative art. But painting - his only love and passion - had always played the leading role in his life. The artist had began to study this art without assistance long before receiving an education.

The artistic gift of Lev Burlutsky became apparent very early. He might have inherited it from his grandfather on mother’s side, who was an icon painter. He reached a good professional level before studying; his works made in the 1950-s-1960-s, displayed at this exhibition, bring evidence to this fact. It is no coincidence that while serving in the Navy in the Crimea seaman Burlutsky was sent on a mission of restoration of Franz Roubaud’s “Siege of Sevastopol”, where he got a good experience in painting under the direction of such famous masters as Pavel Sokolov-Skalya and Vasilij Grandi (first half of the 1950-s). In the 1970-90-s he performed orders of Arts Fund of Russian Federation, and took part in various all-Union, republican and regional exhibitions. However, a personal exhibition of his works didn’t take place during his lifetime.

The exposition is built as an integral retrospective view of Lev Burlutsky’s art. Main periods of his creative work are represented harmoniously, and among different genres landscape demands much attention. Lev Burlutsky’s creative heritage embraces more than half a century (from beginning of the 1950-s until 2005), and it is clear, that in a greater degree the artist is a landscape painter, though not only landscapes but also portraits, still life and genre sketches, displayed at the exhibition, are marked by professionalism.

It is landscape that has become the soul of Lev Burlutsky’s creative work. Having no studio, where the artist dreamt to paint large canvases, he confined himself mostly to painting landscape studies of medium or small size from nature. He regarded them as material for future “real” pictures. However it was obvious that studies made from nature had long become a separate genre in his creative work. The exposition testifies to the fact that the artist reached great skill in landscape studies made alla prima in diverse styles of performance and in various techniques: oil, tempera, gouache and pastel. The subject area includes not only nature motives, but also urban and country landscapes, often with elements of genre.

He depicted the beauty of nature, which he worshipped, in all seasons not only with great skill, but also with deep love. His works were mostly made not to an order, and the only incentive to create was his inner liking for this or that nature motif. The master gave particular attention to the vicinities of Moscow, where he lived for several last decades, that is why many canvases of his have gained now documentary and historical value.

Lev Burlutsky’ destiny was rather dramatic. Under life circumstances he was devoid of paternal care, and his orphanhood formed his nature of a kind man, open to people, but unprotected in a child’s way, and incapable of taking care of himself. It may sound paradoxical, but Lev Burlitsky, who was undoubtedly capable of evaluating himself as a painter, never cared about a formal rise of his professional status even during the period of his maturity, for example, he postponed his joining The Union of Artists all the time, - to make studies was always much more important for him.

A mature person in creative work, Levushka, as he was called by his friends, remained a child in life. Loneliness and living in obscurity is a high price, but it should be admitted that it was paid for an opportunity to do real creative work, free from momentary current state of art affairs. The exhibition is of great interest not only as a new page in the history of Russian school of painting. The master’s heritage gives a number of reasons for being studied closer, in particular, as a rare creative experience of a professional artist who was working under no social commitments, and who was independent of titles, Art Unions and market orders.

Having given the exhibition its name, we have found out in the Internet that these stirring lines, which were dedicated to Nico Pirosmani, have been also applied to other creative people. The name of our exhibition is no plagiarism; it appeared in the consciousness quite spontaneously: there are too many striking parallels, tragic and gratifying as well, in the destiny of Lev Burlutsky. Indeed, “Once there lived a painter, he had gone through much sorrow…”, but his life was undoubtedly lit up by joy of creative work.

Lyudmila Samarina

translated by Lyubov Kuzmina

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