Сотников Геннадий


(23.01.1938 - 19.07.2007)

Gennady Sotnikov was born in Leningrad in 1938. He graduated from Leningrad Theatre Institute, department of scenography, studio of T.G. Bruni. Until 1967 he worked in theatres of Irkutsk, Barnaul and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Upon his return to Leningrad, he worked for advertising agencies, cinemas and theatres of the country. As an art-director, he designed about 150 performances in Leningrad, Moscow, Minsk, Odessa, Novosibirsk, Tashkent, Riga, Tallinn, Ulan-Ude, Yakutsk and many others. During the last twenty years, he has collaborated with «Saha Theatra», Yakutsk Academic Theatre named after P.A. Oyunsky (director: A.S. Borisov). His greatest successes in art directorship were achieved at this theatre. He was awarded the Soviet State Prize for the performance staged after Ch. Aytmatov„s story «A Piebald Dog Trotting Along the Edge of the Sea»; «King Lear" after Shakespeare brought him the State Prize of Russia, and the performance «Kyyz Debelieh» was distinguished by the «Gold Mask» All-Russian Theatre Prize. 

In 1968 he joined the Leningrad Branch of the Artists“ Union of the USSR. He is a member of St Petersburg Academy of Contemporary Art («The Forty Immortals»).

Since 1984 he has been doing a course of scenographic composition at St Petersburg Academy of Contemporary Art. 

Gennady Sotnikov calls himself a Wanderer, the last Drawer. A Wanderer, because he has been to almost all parts of our country — from the Baltic States to the Kamchatka, while working at theatres, archeological excavations or geologic expeditions. Wherever he goes, he always has a pad to draw from nature — people, horses, landscapes. Later these sketches drawn on the small pages of his pad turn to images on canvas or paper united under one theme. Sotnikov uses different, sometimes unexpected, materials, for example, maps. «When one flies eastward across the country, the whole enormous land looks like a geographic map», he says.

That Sotnikov treats various mediums more freely than other artists of his generation stems from his inclination for theatre. Quite often the artist would execute set-ups in the technique of collage rather that paint them and would employ cut-out book illustrations, or other random things. He writes that «he has been using collages since 1964 when he came across a bundle of sports certificates. Since then he has accumulated lots of various stuff: pictures from magazines and newspapers, labels for bottles of vodka. Some of these things have been carried from studio to studio for some forty years now!» 

As a traveller, Sotnikov has a specific attitude to the school rules of perspective. Interesting is his remark that «nowhere else but in the «field», especially when working in the mountains, does one understand the relativity of the scale, the variation of proportions, the conventionality of the Italian perspective". The way Sotnikov arranges the space of the picture is also conditioned by his scenographic predilections. In drawing, he is interested, first and foremost, in particular „lifelike“ („as-large-as-life', as he puts it) postures and movements of people. His compositional arrangement of figures is largely dramatic, squeezed into a certain space, flat and confined to the planes of the wings and the upper scenery. This method allows him to concentrate on a human figure and gestures.

When defining himself as „the last master of drawing“, the teacher of Sotnikov pines after the mastery of drawing which the contemporary generation are apt to neglect in their pursuit of new-fangled ideas. «It is common knowledge', the artist rallies, „that even Malevich ended up with portraits, and Tatlin — with bunches of flowers». He thinks that contemplative experiments should be followed by a return to the „free, unprejudiced“ art of drawing. 

Anne Kharkina

Personal Exhibitions:

1983 — «In Between Snows…" at the House of Journalists (St Petersburg)

1984 — The Ostrovsky Museum of Theatre (St Petersburg)

1998 — The House of Actors (St Petersburg)

2001 — «Friends» (together with Alexander Zadorin and Rashid Daminov) at the House of Graphics and Printing (St Petersburg)

2002 — «The Unclaimed» at the House of Actors (St Petersburg)

2003 — «Drawings of 1962—2000» at the House of Graphics and Printing (St Petersburg)

2003 — «On the Path of Map» at the Arctic Institute of Culture and Arts (Yakutsk)

He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including many regional and all-union exhibitions held at the Union of Artists between 1968 and 1990.

His works belong to the Russian Museum, the theatre museums of Moscow and St Petersburg, museums of Astrakhan, Kazan and Yakutsk, to private collections of Europe, the USA and Mexico.




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