Yuri Gorbachev helps viewers understand culture of Russia and Ukraine

PUBLISHED: 11:02 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:35 07 September 2010

BY ALISON OLDHAM Russian Rousseau and Angel from Russia are epithets coined for the artist nephew of former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, now exhibiting at Gallery K in Hampstead. The no

Yuri Gorbachev helps viewers understand the culture of Russia and the Ukraine

Russian Rousseau and Angel from Russia are epithets coined for the artist nephew of former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, now exhibiting at Gallery K in Hampstead. The nostalgic iconography and jewel-like colours of Yuri Gorbachev's exuberant paintings have won him international success.

Yuri was a ceramics artist when the reforms of Perestroika were introduced during his uncle's term of office, enabling him to make a new life in the West. He arrived in New York in 1991, with little money or English, and took the bold step of changing his medium from clay to paint.

However, Yuri's former art practice is evident in his technique: he draws outlines into a thick layer of oil paint as potters make incisions in wet clay. Smooth layers of paint then coats of lacquer are applied to areas within the outlines and the grooves are filled with metallic and gold paint. The resulting light-reflecting surface is reminiscent of stained glass or even a Fabergé egg, suggests Ann Eastman of Gallery K.

A trip to the Far East in 1993 was a further influence and his later paintings incorporate elements of life and art encountered in the Orient and in America though Russia's folklore, architecture, fauna and flora dominate. Success came quickly. In 1994 he was commissioned to design the annual Christmas advertisement for Stolichnaya vodka, which had worldwide circulation.

Two years later, the United Nations invited him to create a stamp for its Endangered Species series. Yuri has been praised for helping viewers to understand the culture of Russia and the Ukraine.

His work is held in the collections of the Louvre, the Kremlin Museum and the White House. Past exhibitions include a joint Gorbachev/Chagall exhibition in Prague and solo shows in Bali and Brazil. Gallery K is presenting Kaleidoscope, paintings from 1994 to 2009, together with art consultancy La Parole Divine.

o Until January 10 at 101-103 Heath Street, Hampstead. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am

to 6pm, Saturday 11am to 6pm, Sunday

2pm to 6pm.


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