Sergei Pavlenko has a prolific career as a portrait painter. His sitters include the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Lord Bonham Carter, HM King Abdullah II of Jordan and several members of the British Royal Family. Tatiana Radko’s impressive oeuvre encompasses lively landscapes, still lifes and interiors.
In 2000 HM The Queen sat for a portrait by Pavlenko, commissioned by The Worshipful Company of Drapers. It is said to be the Queen’s favourite portrait since her Coronation, and was personally unveiled by Her Majesty. In 2013 a detail of the head was used on a Royal Mail stamp to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. The artist was subsequently commissioned to paint a large-scale picture of The Queen meeting Prince William and Prince Harry at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
The exhibition surveys a more intimate side to these artists’ work. In the case of Pavlenko the brisk and expressive studies that he makes for his iconic portraits, and elegant nudes, demonstrating a skilful handling of paint and economy of expression where every mark is handled with assurance and sensitivity. Pavlenko explains: “I try to create a painting that would appeal even to people who do not know the sitter. Every brush stroke on all parts of the painting working to show the character, soul, taste and lifestyle of the subject.” Philip Hook (Senior Director, Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Sothebys London) said of his work: “Sometimes it takes a foreigner’s eye to capture an essentially British ‘look’. One thinks of Van Dyck and Lely from Flanders, or more recently Sargent from America. Sergei Pavlenko belongs to that tradition.”
Radko’s exquisite paintings display a flawless command of form and colour. For the last 17 summers, Tatiana and her family have headed to the beautiful Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. Inspired by the landscape, she makes vibrant paintings of beaches and coastal scenes, with a masterful command of the effects of light on water. Her paintings have a wonderful joie de vivre imparted by the exuberant figures that inhabit them. Other works feature playful frolicking nudes, painted in an expressionist style, often combined with luscious still lifes of foliage and flowers.
Sergei Pavlenko graduated from St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts in 1988 and was nominated for the Gold Medal. He moved to the West in 1989 and became an established portrait painter in Europe and the USA. In 2004 he had two solo exhibitions, at the Russian Embassy in London and the British Embassy in Moscow. In Britain, Channel 4 showed a film about Sergei and his portraits. Pavlenko’s name has been added to list of “highly distinguished emigrants” and he is now a British citizen. He and his wife Tatiana live and work in London.
Tatiana Radko also studied at St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. She was taught by the master and academic, Yuri Neprintsev, famous for his emphasis on colour and impressionistic vision. She graduated in 1988 and taught for several years at the Children’s Fine Art School in St Petersburg before marrying Sergei Pavlenko, and moving to the UK in 1992. She has exhibited widely and her work is private collections in Russia, USA, France, Spain, Austria and the UK.