26 february 2004—14 june 2004
The one-man exhibition of St. Petersburg's painter and graphic artist Boris Yermolayev contains works from the collection of the Russian Museum, which is one of the largest author's collections, handed over to the museum after the artist's death. The contemporary of Russian avant-guard artists, Boris Yermolayev managed to express his own attitude, based on the idea of high destination of a human being, about the eternal beauty of the living world. Boris Yermolayev was born in St. Petersburg in 1903, and since his childhood took a great interest in drawing. In 1921 he entered the St. Petersburg Design Technical School, where his teachers were Fedodrovitch and Avilov. Trying to preserve the independence and artistic freedom among the variety of existing trends of modern art, Boris Yermalayev was creating the foundation of his creative work, not following any of the theories. After graduating from the technical school in 1925 the young artist was drafted to the army, where he tried not to give up drawing. Since that time graphic exercises became a usual part of his creative work. Boris Yermolayev's first professional experience was associated with the work in Leningrad newspapers and magazines ("Leninskiye Iskry", "Krasnaya Panorama", "Rezets"). The genre sketches of the late 1920s, that retain the characteristic features and details of everyday life of the city, constitute a numerous group of Boris Yermolayev works. The artist, however, never turned to this kind of work again. The artist's first experiences in painting were marked by an outstanding feeling of monumental form, but the small format of his works reminds of the usual size of family pictures. The early figured compositions of Boris Yermolayev are, in a way, portraits, close in their style to the provincial portrait with its typical frankness and undisguised posing. The artist was always attracted to the various forms of naive art that preserved clear and stable perception of the subject. Acquaintance with the work of Niko Pirosmanishvili, whose exhibition took place in the Russian Museum in 1930, helped Yermolayev to define more clearly his own plastic idea, suggested some essential stylistic devices. After being heavily wound in 1943, Boris Yermolayev virtually never turns back to painting, and devotes himself to drawing. Watercolours, created in the late 1940-s - early 1950-s are remarkable for the straightforwardness, rather rough treatment, which was typical for the city genre compositions arising at the time. Working it the experimental lithographic workshop of the Leningrad branch of the Union of Artists, Yermolayev creates his own original decorative-plastic system of coloured lithography. At the time urban motifs gave place to rural themes for long. In 1970s, Boris Yermolayev comes back to drawing. Having chosen colored pencils as his instrument, he widely uses practice of colour-printing, treating even the smallest patch of colour with much care and emphasizing its strength and saturation. These works reveal entirely Yermolayev's decorative predilections, his perfect taste and sense of proportion. A catalogue
for the exhibition has been published.