Click here for French version
This is the first unofficial site dedicated to the painter Sergei Chepik.
Portrait of the Artist's Family in Studio (detail) - 1992
"An unknown Russian genius comes to light" The Daily Telegraph, Monday, October 8, 1990
While he is not still very
known in France - where nevertheless he lives-, the fame grows abroad, and notably in
England (it is also that, the "French Paradox"). Sergei Chepik was born in Kiev
(ex-USSR) in 1953 ; in 1973, he enters the Repin Art Institute of Saint-Petersburg (at the
time, Leningrad) where he learned the techniques of the great masters of the past (Chepik
prepares his canvases and his colours himself), which certain number of current painters
seems to ignore.
From 1980 till 1985, Chepik painted cycles of landscapes and villages of Old Russia. Out of this period, "Petrushka" (of the cycle of "Seasons"), is doubtless his first masterpiece. It is not one of these numerous landscapes by Russian painters that recently broke out on the auction halls of the Occidental countries, such a wave for a long time held by the dike of communism.
No. It is a complex, swarming work like Jerome Bosch's, teeming with details, extravagant beings that are as many references to legends, books, recollections...
Then Chepik has been interested in the restless past of Russia. "Apocalypse", "Crucifixion" and "Piéta" as well as "the Veterans" tell the tragedy of Russia in the XXth century by adopting the Christian iconography.
In 1988, "The House of the Dead" - an allegorical representation of the soviet society walled up in its monstrousness, its paranoia and its despair - does not please the censors. Chepik is then forbidden of exhibition. Tired of fighting, he exiles himself in France on August 1st, 1988, helped by the one that he presented under the features of The Lady in Black, a Frenchwoman professor of Russian and passionate for Arts :
Chepik crosses France and
develops his art without constraint.
Paris was - and stays - a source of Chepik's important inspiration: Notre-Dame, The Gargoyles, the bridges, the Seine...
But at the same time, one often feels the presence of Russia, in a underlying way, showing just beneath the surface (a little as in "The Man in the High Castle" by P.K.Dick).
Other subjects also appeared in his work : boxing, bullfighting, sunflowers, Venice ; but the history of Russia remains his main source of inspiration : "The Troika" (1991), "The First Circle" (1991-92), "The Red Place" (1994). He made a trip in Russia in 1995, during which he was able to realize in how many hopes aroused by the intervened changes have been disappointed.
Back in France, he painted "The Golgotha " (1995-96)
This painting is the outcome of
a serie begun with a Golgotha dating of 1989. Of the Christ, one sees only the shadow
which stands out on the ground, in the feet of a group of women, people and children in
different attitudes : sorrow, consternation, hatred, reflection, satisfaction in front of
the quality of the show, stupefaction, fear. It is a totally original Crucifixion, what is
not a slender performance if one think about hoaw many Crucifixions have been painted.
One may say, in broad outline, that Chepik has two pictorial styles. First of all, a precise, figurative style. Then, a geometrical style ("The Three Brothers") that claims more attention, but which is always figurative. This duality seems to confuse people, especially in France, because it is not because of two separated periods (in brief, because of an evolution), in the career of our Artist. No, he manages with these two styles at the same time.
Moreover, they are not always very far away one of the other, because some of his compositions in his "precise" style teem with details, a little as in his figurative style where people, objects and animals, overlap, are nearly mixed up, while remaining clearly recognizable.
Chepik paints canvas, watercolours, monotypes, he does lithographies, pastels, etchings, ceramic, stained glasses... .
You may visit Chepik's Official Site
This site is still in construction ; any question, remark, suggestion is the very welcome.
Last update : 01/20/02.
Reproductions (c) Sergei Chepik