Vladimir Gavrilov is one of the finest masters of the Moscow School, a group of artists who graduated from the Moscow Art Institute and launched their career in the second half of the 1950s. Among them are such well-known figures as G. Korzhev, A. Tkachev, V. Ivanov, V. Stozharov, and I. Popov. This was a tight circle of friends not officially united or under any common agenda. They were taught by the same teachers and were driven by the same desire to capture the beauty of everyday life and discover new artistic methods.
Vladimir Gavrilov graduated from the Moscow State School of Arts in 1956, just over a decade after the end of World War II, which had devastated the country and its people. After years of hardship young artists wanted to celebrate each day of peace and were full of creative energy. This time also coincided with the beginning of Khrushchev's 'Thaw', a period of reversal of repression and censorship in the Soviet Union. In many respects there was a renaissance of Russian art, which had from the 1920s been suppressed and reduced to a limited number of themes and artistic methods of the so-called 'official Soviet art'.
In 1954 the seven-year moratorium on Impressionist and Post-impressionist art in the USSR was lifted not only signalling changes in politics but giving an important opportunity for artists to study the achievements of these important movements first-hand. Museums like the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the State Fine Art Pushkin Museum in Moscow started to exhibit works from the Shchukin and Morozov collections, unavailable for viewing during the Stalin regime. Masterpieces of modern art from these collections were an important source of inspiration for the artists. However, Gavrilov also cited Old Masters such as El Greco, Velasquez, Rembrandt as well as several major Russian artists like Surikov, Levitan and Vrubel as his great influences at the time.
Gavrilov's works are characterized by thick shimmering layers of paint and wide, seemingly careless brushstrokes. Gavrilov's preoccupation with color and its effects is evident in all of his works. He once admitted he could spend weeks searching for the perfect combination shades of two neighbouring colours.
"I am excited by the color, coloring, harmony of colors. There are artists that are interested in line, rhythm, shape. I am enjoying the most the combination of colors and their unique harmony found in nature".
We are grateful to Natalia A. Aleksandrova, head of the Russian painting of the 2nd half of the 20th century at the Tretyakov Gallery, for her assistance with this description.