The Objective Reality of Vladimir Terekhin


Vladimir Terekhin presented his exhibition of 70 paintings, An Objective Reality, at Novoye Prostranstvo (New Space) Art Gallery in Samara—an extremely diverse show of his creative work over the past 40 years. One of Samara’s most successful and sought after artists, Terekhin never studied in art school, nor has he had any artistic mentors. All his achievements come only through intimate self-examination and his own creative experiments.

In certain of his paintings, Vladimir Terekhin makes use of the grotesque—such as in a portrait of the artist with his son and in one of his self-portraits.

When asked about the secret of his success, the artist replied: “I just work a lot. If nothing comes of it, it’s my own fault. I am the cause and the result of all my successes and failures. I don’t give credit or blame anyone but myself for them.
The artist has something to prove only to himself—and only himself to overcome. This is the only way. Each one of us must take his own path. It’s nice that nowadays you can organize your own exhibitions; you don’t need to secure any permits. You have to take steps forward, not fearing anything. But, at the same time, aspiring artists should prepare themselves psychologically for failure, not for success. I have certainly had my fair share of being picked on. I was called an upstart. There is a comment in my guestbook: ‘Where do they teach artists like this? He should be shot!’ So you just have to take it all in stride.” The artist himself believes his art to be a sort of a pictorial diary, a reminiscence of events and impressions from his life. For him, art is an expression of the subconscious in people. This was actually first discovered by the impressionists, whose aesthetics was based on the artist’s impression of his environment. “While studying art history,” the artist says, “I came to the conclusion that the key to modern art is not the three-dimentionality of an image but rather the three-dimensionality of the state of the person himself.
That was how my painting The Shop of Conscious Madness came about, which has both a conscious and subconscious origin—a phantom of the artist’s imagination and his super-ego.” This key painting, which is also shown in this exhibition, depicts people in a vodka line transforming into graphic charts and into strange characters void of human flesh. The artist created this painting, the biggest of all of his works (86 sq. ft), while he was working at the Progress Rocket Space Center. He painted it during weekends and holidays when, as the chairperson of the shop committee, he had to be on duty in the factory propaganda room. Some of Terekhin’s paintings on display—In the Kitchen, Bingo Players, The Wedding, and With a Short Beard—are filled with expressive and grotesque images. The artist comments on his motive behind these works: “Most people do not comprehend themselves: Who are they? Why did they come into this world? That is how they appear in these paintings... I used to live in a shared apartment a long time ago. I remember our neighbors cursing and fighting. So this is how they appear in my paintings—earthbound, with sunflower seed shells stuck in the corners of their mouths.
Or take this painting, The Wedding. At one time I was a musician for ten years. I played at so many weddings, and saw such things there, that those memories stayed with me for a long time. It was sort of like an abscess. Some are outraged, ‘They are like some kind of claymation!’ For me, ‘claymation’ is a compliment. It means that I managed to make my small works monumental. I’m not afraid to appear bad. I have always enjoyed walking that fine line and experimenting in my work.”

Landscapes – Figments of the Imagination
Lately, the artist has been moving away from the grotesque style of painting. His art has become more cheerful and convivial. This is shown well in his recent flower still life series.
Many of Terekhin’s works, including landscapes (they are on display, too), are noted for his unusual painting technique.
He often uses fiberboard as a base. It flattens the colors, and eliminates their unnatural, oily shine. These pictures are not painted on canvas with oil paints, as is usually done; they seem more to be drawn with colors. Incidentally, during Terekhin’s US show, this technique drew a lot of attention. The artist says, “I stopped thinning down my paints a long time ago; instead, I mix them on the palette, straight out of the tubes. My style is close to impressionism. The impressionists used this method—La Prima. They had to complete a painting at one sitting while the lighting angle remained unchanged. But they painted plein air while I do everything only from memory. My landscapes are born from my imagination although they look quite realistic. And this is how people react to them: ‘Oh, I know that place; it’s all drawn so perfectly.’ Your associations, your memories surge up when you are looking at such a painting. It’s just like listening to good music.”
By the way, Terekhin likes painting to music. He is particularly fond of Jean Michel Jarre’s electronic music as well as the Beatles and Rolling Stones, the music he grew up on.
Novoye Prostranstvo has his well-known paintings of the Long Live Russia! series on display, too. They were a hit at the Federation Council exhibition in Moscow. “I am very much interested in the mind of a believer,” commented the artist about the works. “It’s what these paintings are all about. The church domes in them are like rockets. For me, these pictures in a way represent a connection with the cosmos. The choice of colors and composition show this.”

There is Mystery in Samara
The artist invited his friends who supported him over the years to the exhibition opening. Among them were many people well-known in Samara: the former governor and Member of the Federation Council Konstantin Titov with his wife, a prominent lawyer Vasiliy Tarasenko, Samara Regional Council Chief of Staff Lyudmila Durova, and the Snopov brothers, Vladimir and Sergey, who preside over The Beatles Association of Samara.
Vladimir Terekhin’s paintings can be found in 16 museums around the world as well as in many private collections. His works are in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II, Former President of France Jacques Chirac, the Russian pop icon Alla Pugacheva, and many other famous people.
The artist has travelled throughout the world. Yet he prefers to work in Samara.
He says, “I find the microstructure of Samara very close. When I come to Moscow, I can’t work there because of its hectic pace of life. Samara is different. There is a mystery in it...”

Boris STRELNIKOV, art critic:
“Vladimir Terekhin’s artistic world is complex and diverse. The sonorous, almost piercing colorfulness of his paintings is not a goal in and of itself but rather serves as a means for defining psychological characteristics. He blurs the contour with streams of air and a flash of light which impart to his paintings a sense of freshness and delicacy. His art is permeated with an experimental spirit. He aspires to fuse together precision and understatement, abstraction and concreteness into a harmonious whole. He seeks out and finds a path of profound insight into nature and discovers ways of translating its beauty into the lyrical language of painting.”

Vasily TARASENKO, lawyer, friend of the artist:
“Vladimir Terekhin has a sincere and talented hand. His paintings are rich with both thoughts and emotions. The world in his paintings is unbroken; it is very harmonious. However, his painting The Sigma of Infinite Women’s Folly is a warning. It is a premonition of the glamour which has congested our lives, of the vulgarity which spews out from television screens in today’s world. At the same time, Vladimir Terekhin has never said anything negative about any other artist, even the most mediocre. He is not jealous. He is confident in himself and confident that his art is in demand today and will be in the future.”

Vladimir Terekhin was born in 1951. He worked at the Progress Rocket Space Center in Kuibyshev (now – Samara) for several years. He also was a musician, and he still picks up his guitar from time to time. As an artist, he was greatly influenced by Van Gogh and Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. Terekhin’s paintings have been on display at solo shows in Samara and Moscow as well as in the USA. His first comprehensive exhibition took place at the Federation Council in 1989. When it ended, the State Historical Museum purchased his Long Live Russia! series of paintings. In 1991, the album A New Name of the Russian Avant-Garde came out. Vladimir Terekhin.