12 June 2008
Landscape with Giraffe signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated 1968 on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 27.5 by 31 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Exhibited: Legends of the Russian Underground, MacDougall's, London, February-March 2008.
Kharitonov began working at an early age, looking after farm animals and even working as a stoker in the zoo. It is probably this experience from his youth that inspired this charming picture, Landscape with Giraffe, which comes from a UK collection. His grandmother, who represented the sole fond memory from his childhood, nurtured his early artistic gifts and bought him a set of oils. She took him to churches where he would spend hours listening to the choir, or studying the icons and paintings of the steppe. The Old Slavic language held a great enchantment, and Kharitonov studied it, along with Byzantine icons, ancient Russian painting and church embroidery (using pearls and precious stones), all of which was later to appear in his work. As a budding artist he would draw from memory the dilapidated Moscow churches and little peasant dwellings that were passing into history before his eyes. He excelled in his training, but never formally completed his artistic education despite being one of the best students of the Moscow City Art School. Outside his formal education he continued to paint and study, read copiously, and walked the halls of his beloved State Tretyakov Gallery.
Often Kharitonov painted works that were purely abstract but as time passed he would paint romantic compositions of a far off land. He would escape the many problems of the post-war Soviet Union through his painting. His wife, Yullo Sooster, recalls that even at noisy artists parties “Sasha would always be sitting in the corner, trying to be inconspicuous, and would draw and draw, and then give his drawings out as presents...”
In his ongoing quest for the Absolute and his striving for the Celestial, Kharitonov worried little about losing the strength of aesthetic to artistic vanity. In 1970 he became part of the newly opened painting section of the State Committee of Graphic Artists, and began to regularly exhibit at the Malaya Gruzinskaya Salon as part of the 20 group and subsequently as part of the 10 Moscow Artists group, where he achieved favourable recognition.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.