“Inhabited Landscapes” by Garif Basyrov

16.06.2017 – 17.09.2017

Private Collections

Between June 16 and September 17, the Department of Private Collections of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts invites you to the exhibition of artworks by Garif Basyrov, where, among other pieces, his main series “Inhabited Landscapes” will be displayed.

Garif Basyrov is one of the few artists who created a true image of the second half of the 20th century. He accurately portrayed that period of time, which one can hardly call “the past,” through the grotesque, whimsicality, and inevitable irony. It has now becomes obvious that Basyrov’s works also seem to resonate with people who never lived in that time and do not know much about it. Basyrov’s art is a heart-stirring narrative about something that is outside of a certain time and place.

The series “Inhabited Landscapes,” which gave the name to the whole project, was created over a span of more than a decade. It started from early graphic cycles, and the scale of characters, the panorama, and the artist’s task continued to grow from there.

Basyrov’s works seem to be too complex for those who want to define their genre. The transition from pen and color pencils to large-scale abstract series and sculptures make the term “graphic artist,” which is often applied to Basyrov, quite senseless, as are all discussions concerning his specific style.

In addition to “Inhabited Landscapes,” the exposition will include works from the “Antiquity” series as well as a number of sculptures, which the artist suddenly turned to in 1995, starting with his figurative and abstract cycles “Incubi.” These figures resemble little dolls or archaic gods made of garbage from attics and local scrap-heaps. According to the author, “the series looks as if it was found by a mysterious archaeological expedition. It is impossible to determine the location and time of excavations, or to attribute the discoveries.”

Garif Basyrov was born in 1944 in ALZHIR (the Russian acronym for the Akmolinsk Camp for Wives of Traitors of the Homeland). He studied at the art school under the Surikov Institute and graduated from the VGIK in 1968. In the 1970s he took part in many exhibitions held by the graphic section of the Union of Artists. Garif Basyrov was for many years a remarkable illustrator for the well-known “Chemistry and Life” magazine. He used both printing (lithography, etching) and his own original technique (ink, pencil). In the 1990s Basyrov worked for the publications “Kommersant” and “Itogi.” The first drawings from one of his most important series “Inhabited Landscapes” were made in the beginning of the 1980s. Later, he drew the series “City People in the Countryside,” “People in the Corner,” “Sports,” and “The Long Summer.” Basyrov began to work on his first non-figurative series “The Unessential” in 1992. It laid the foundation for the cycles “Apocrypha” and “Postal Series.” In these works, collage, gouache, and colored ink supplemented the customary color pencils. During the summer of 1995, the artist created several hundred “Incubi” — three-dimensional anthropomorphic and abstract objects. 

Works by Garif Basyrov are stored in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the State Tretyakov Gallery, and the State Russian Museum, as well as many museums and private collections in the USA, France, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, etc.

A special publication will be issued for the exhibition.


Alexey Savinov, senior researcher of the Department of Private Collections, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Invited curator — Maria Gadas.

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