Curator John Barkes has been working with artists in St Petersburg for more than twenty years. A chance meeting in 1993 with a painter with close links to the Repin Academy of Fine Arts resulted in nearly a hundred trips to the city, with visits to more than three hundred studios.
The collapse of the Soviet system in 1989 left many elite professions without salaries or resources. Members of Artists' Unions were no exception, but crucially they retained their studios and the paintings that represented their lives' work.
To the artists' surprise, and often severe irritation, John Barkes nearly always ignored their finished exhibited paintings, which tended to be rigid and formal, selecting in preference the vibrantly observant oil sketches and drawings that had no monetary value under the old system.
It has thus been possible, by chance and the accidents of history, to exhibit and sell a great number of works by eminent artists and teachers at very accessible prices.
One wall will feature designs for major mosaic and mural projects from the 1960s and 1970s by Evgeni Kazmin. He is most proud of his scheme for the Sochi State Circus building, and is delighted that it survived the depredations associated with the recent Winter Olympics.
The main theme of any Socialist Realist exhibition is life under the Soviet system - work, leisure and the family - paintings of a time that has passed into history, brilliantly observed.
All works are for sale, mostly priced from £400 to £4,000.
On Sunday 5th February at 5.30pm. Dr Elizaveta Butakova, visiting lecturer at the Courtauld Institute, will lecture on Socialist Realism. John Barkes will share the platform giving his insights into the Soviet art education system.
Admission £10 (HLSI members £5) on the door.
To reserve your place please eMail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8340 3343.