The Filatov Family Art Fund has acquired 'From the recent past' and 'In an old smithy', two paintings by the distinguished Soviet artist Yuri Petrovich Kugach, whose main theme is the depiction of Russian rural life with a focus on Russian traditions, landscapes, as well as the often tragic destiny of the Russian people.

Kugach was born in the old Russian city of Suzdal in 1917. His artistic education started at the Moscow Art Institute and the Surikov Moscow State Academy Art Institute, where he studied amongst others under I.E. Grabar and S.V. Gerasimov. In 1950 Kugach moved to the countryside in the Tver region, which became an inspiration for his work. He focused on the representation of village and country life, which for him were an expression of the nation's prominence. He also depicted typical Russian subjects such as dachas and birch woods with a particular attention to the impact of light and the seasons. Kugach was a recipient of the Stalin prize, Repin Prize and the State Prize of the USSR.

'The Changing of the Times' (1960s - 1990s) shows the tragic destiny of the Russian peasantry which is expressed through a family being told by NKVD officers, the all-powerful law enforcement agency, that they have to leave their land and village in the name of collectivisation and the settlement of new land. Kugach was very interested in the complexity and tragedy of the period. His painting is not a political statement as he understood the necessity of the collectivisation program but a simple expression of the human drama of people caught up in such historic events. The tragic moment is underlined by the austere pallet and facial expressions of the group of people, as well as the desperate hand gesture of the main character. This moment is given even more relevance as it is put in stark contrast with the white backdrop of the harsh Russian winter. The artwork was almost bought by the Ministry of Culture during the state exhibition at the Manege in 1988, but Kugach decided not to sell the painting as he did not want it to be sent to regional museums. In addition, he still wanted to make some corrections to the artwork.

'The Old Smithy' (1960 - 1977) shows two young boys standing in admiration in a blacksmith's in front of a forge and surrounded by work tools and the anvil. The painting is based on Kugach's childhood memories. He painted many of his works from memory and "The Old Smithy" is based on a series of sketches. He wanted to recreate the fairy tale impression that visiting the local blacksmith shop had on him as an adolescent. It was a mysterious place animated with a variety of objects and dominated by the forge. The forge also represents the heart of village live and is an expression of the importance of the nation's people.

Andrey Filatov, founder of the Fund, said: "Kugach is one of the premier Russian Realist painters of the last century. His love for the Russian countryside and its people is expressed through his artwork in a unique way. Decorated with numerous state awards and medals, Kugach was able to depict the human aspect of historic moments that shaped the lives of millions. It is extremely difficult to find Kugach's paintings of this scale - usually, there are a lot of landscapes, but no thematic paintings like the ones acquired by the Fund."

Yuri Petrovich Kugach (1917 - 2013) was born in Suzdal. In 1936 he graduated from Moscow Art College 'of 1905', where he studied under Nikolay Krymov and Konstantin Morozov. In 1942, he graduated from the Moscow State Surikov Art Institute where he also finished post-graduate studies in 1945. In 1948-1951 he taught at the Moscow State Surikov State Art Institute.

Yuri Kugach is considered one of the 'patriarchs' of Russia realist art. He has worked in many styles and has touched a wide range of themes, but he is best known as the painter of Russian rural life. Until his last days he lived in Tver region and continued to paint landscapes. His works are owned by the State Tretyakov Gallery, Kiev Museum of Russian Art, and many regional museums.


'From the Recent Past' (1960s - 1990s), oil on canvas, 145 x 205


'The Old Smithy' (1960 - 1977), oil on hardboard (transferred from canvas), 180 X 175cm