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IGOR MAYOROV
A collection of works by the Petersburg artist Igor Mayorov
THE GREAT MISTIFIER
It's insulting to realize that the brilliant artist passed away before the commercial success and recognition in the West. After his death in 1991, many of his works were unhindered from the country and sold at auctions in Europe: in Hamburg, Paris, Helsinki, Munich, London. In Hamburg in 1992 almost every watercolor was estimated at 2-3 thousand marks. In 1995, an exhibition and sale of his works in the 'Albina' Gallery was organized in Vienna - on the very first day all the works were sold - 800 graphic sheets and drawings. And in March 1996, the customs officers of St. Petersburg detained 262 drawings that were tried to take to Germany. His paintings have settled everywhere - from collectors of Finland, England, France, Holland. Works of the master scattered all over the world. In distant Argentina, the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia people know and love Mayorov.
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The brilliant combination of artistic and human hobbies, various, but close internal tendencies - this is the artist Igor Mayorov (1846-1991). Petersburg watercolorist, painter, chaser, permeated with his native white nights, when contours and color vibrate, and gray slushy winter evenings, when the soul is so cold. All this is Igor Mayorov, who has absorbed the esthetics of F.M. Dostoevsky, and A. Blok; the enchanting elegance of the Impressionists, with their Montparnasian ease, and the mystery of the brush by Sandro Boticelli, the unrestrained freedom of A. Zverev, and the expressionistic exacerbation of E. Nolde. And many many others.

In virtuosic watercolors by Igor Mayorov, the epoch - Petersburg of 70-80th years of our century was reflected. His sheets then transmit the visible density of the world, they lose it, becoming not the earthly light, ringing-transparent. The swiftness of free lines, the unpredictability of intuitive imposition of color spots - this is his author's handwriting. The brusque brush, in its careless elegance, speaks of genuine craftsmanship and high culture. Having come into contact with the creativity of this artist "by the grace of God," I will try to tell you a little about his gift, about what he aspired to, bursting with all the inner heat of the soul, all his worlds, and, finally, his ways.

During the life of Igor Mayorov we were not acquainted. Later it turned out that it could happen - he was a friend of my husband, artist Yuri Bizhganov. But the "non-meeting" resulted in a meeting with the graphic heritage of the master, stored in a number of private collections, with fellow artists. I met with Igor's mother, talked to her for a long time with his closest friend and student Robert Gabitov. In the late 50-ies Igor's mother brought him to the local House of Pioneers. So simple. She preferred him drawing rather than spending his time on a street. But, unexpectedly, the teacher said to her: "He will be an artist." From the fourth grade, the boy studied at the Secondary Art School at the Academy of Fine Arts, then a year at the School named after. V. Serov. After a while he met with a teacher who was able to appreciate his talent. It was Marina Georgievna Time-Blok, the niece of A. Blok, Igor's favorite poet. Igor had to go through two imprisonments, the first of which interrupted his studies at the school. Characteristically, both times he simply took the blame on himself, with the knight's nobility inherent in him, in love with Don Quixote.

What about his daily routine? He never had a workshop. Sometimes there was money, sometimes not. And the artist, who read Henry Thoreau, dreamed about Walken's life and said: "I would have a hut in the forest for creativity, I would have a piece of black bread, water and prefer that no one can interfere this." There were faithful friends and unselfish women in his life. And all his wealth was deeper. Or higher. More precisely in him and in his works.

For his short life, Igor Mayorov made an incredible lot. He painted portraits, landscapes, created flower compositions, genre scenes - from the lyrical series "People and Houses" to the phantasmagoric "Drunkards" and "Night Butterflies". He was childishly in love with the ancient Russian theme and created characters in bast shoes, wrote riders, combatants, angels. He made illustrations for the "Twelve Chairs" by Ilf and Petrov, to the stories of O. Henry. One can be amazed with some incredible creative speed of his life.

The art of Igor Mayorov, undoubtedly, is urban. However, the original overture of creativity is the artist's appeal to living nature - to flowers, as genuine prototypes of beauty, to landscapes.

It seems that the entire color spectrum has scattered into the smallest sparks in the sheets of these genres. Here is the river, two sleeping, unmoving boats in the autumn water. The artist puts one color on another with a free movement of the brush. The yellowness of the distant plan is broken by splashes and reflections on the entire plane of the sheet. And the last rays of the departing summer fall from the sky with a pink light. And these immediate sketches of pink turn into white air accents - similarity of imminent snow. And the viewer is captured by this perfect color chord ...

Igor Mayorov writes the landscapes of the city. His Petersburg is a high, wet building, moisture, hanging in the air, the fuzziness of streets and squares, which, however, with their European alignment and color diversity resemble the Parisian boulevards. The color of these leaves is somewhat muffled - there is exactly as much light as, in general, possible in Petersburg, foggy and rainy. Such are the quaint, changing stages of the life of his heroes. They will be deployed Mayorov mirages, come to life characters. An endless, subtle sensation of moisture, and Akhmatova's "city went into its own mist" ... And the ghosts of St. Petersburg are seen, and behind the beautiful lie of architectural facades are hidden his vagabonds and superfluous women, and the mise-en-scenes revolve in their vacillating kaleidoscope.

The artist's imagination sometimes magically connects the incompatible. This is how the "face" of St. Isaac's Cathedral grows. And many associations are born. Perhaps, from this original untruth, granted to us by Petersburg, later, Igor Mayorov's passion for expressionism grows.

In the chaos of the surrounding life, the artist finds his images, his melody, his dream. Its aesthetic taste is such that it allows you to see beauty in what seems to be an ugly, low and doomed - i.e. it is absolute. The beauty of Igor Mayorov is not only the pearlescence of a dream, silence to ringing and transparency to a spell, but this is a duality in spite of everything and in everything, and tears, and satiety, and loneliness.

Here is a series of works united by the common name "Flower Girls". His refinement of the heroine is reminiscent of his drawings on the birch bark - "antique". Ladies with huge baskets of flowers, in long dresses and swaying flowers on hats, gracefully slide over the surface of the paper. Here the artist's love for the culture of the past century, and a tribute to courteous and refined France, and such a Russian disorder, shyness, barely glancing sadness. His beautiful "flower girls" - a little ballet, a little unhappy - such that, it seems, touch - disappear, a drop of water and she will wash off the sheet. Women are visions, muses, stumbling madons, who can not stand contact with reality. And by their silhouette they dissolve in it, disappear in space. Fragility, suffering, insecurity and trembling, and unearthly ability to love - these are probably the features of the ideal of Igor Mayorov. Women and flowers are two categories of beauty in the artist's understanding. Petersburg, a slightly outlined background, where lines slip on toned paper, and the accents of fawn and pink seem to cry for help - the category of the impossible. So there is a conflict of this series - the collision of the beautiful with the impossible, the doom of beauty.

However, nostalgic reflections are not the main, though beautiful, motif of Igor Mayorov's creativity. The artist never passed by life. He was firmly convinced that in life there is everything in the human soul.

In place of the finest harmony, other contrasts come. In the series "Drunkards", "Night Butterflies". The artist avoids satire, grotesque. His point of view is the fear of insulting and the desire to hedge against it - love, pity, mercy.

The author introduces us into the world of half-neglected regulars of cheap cafes. Men, women, sitting at tables with transparent glasses of unfinished wine, indulging in their own thoughts. Their thoughtfulness, at times, turns into a drunken debauchery, and single-figure compositions are then replaced by two-figure compositions. These heroes are united by a tangible presence of distance between the image in its everyday manifestation and its distant, hidden essence. These are women and men "with the past," with nesting in their souls, restless "dark avenues," and ... with indifference to the present. Through the vibration of the duality of their destinies, through the vacillating world of drunken frenzy, opposite motives come out - the comprehension of oneself and the attempt to forget oneself. And the story of the artist rises to the level of a short story.

One can be stuck by some last sincerity of his heroines, and nestled in them tenderness in spite of everything, and pity. Maybe the ladies at the tables are all the same "Flower Girl"? Fallen, alas, the descended Madonnas? And you believe that the past, unsuccessfully crashed, brought them here. To the salutary detachment, to forget, to forget a little, and, perhaps, to keep in yourself ... Something ...

In the works of this cycle, the color decision is changing. Unlike the "Flower Girl", Igor Mayorov here completely works out the plane of the sheet, by the common melancholy color destroys transparency, closing the characters in the framework of a monotonous, monotonous life. And only unexpected bursts of whiteness enliven the color character of these watercolors.

Images of prostitutes arise in the cycle "Night Butterflies", and in the ambiguous characters of other series of the artist. Igor greatly regretted the lives of such women, their unclaimed fates, their terrible fate of outcasts.

His heroines of midnight life cause compassion and pain in the artist. He partly reveals their characters, their faces. The women who have suffered the last fiasco and become turned-down goods, they are still, in inertia, in the world of their past physical attractiveness - they make eyes, color their lips, and do not notice the poor, that their mouths are disfigured, that their eyes are tired, wanting. This household tragedy under the master's brush grows into a fantasy of the absurd. The broken lines, sharp and hard, the atmosphere of uselessness and infernality - everything says about these fates "on the verge of a foul". Igor Mayorov creates an image of a special layer of St. Petersburg life, consisting of quirks, debris, and crashes.

Considering, in general, the female images of Igor Mayorov, one can say that the artist loves them in all its manifestations, loves it because he sees in God, through all strata and contingencies, God's plan.

Apparently, from here in his heroines, this cruel truth, this unconcealed, at times, exaltation, that, alternating with promiscuity, is an eternal, morbid "past does not return," and St. Petersburg's longing, when everything that is behind is "shattered." This is the same world of "humiliated and insulted", which seems to have originated in the city itself and without which the city is unthinkable.

And tipsy, almost French, ladies at tables, and prostitutes, as well as romantically "flower girls" - all these are purely Russian heroines in spirit. Like Sonechka Marmeladova, like Nastasya Filippovna - they are broken and tormented by their inner suffering, and so far from any falsehood, from the common benefactors. No, not passion is destined for the heroines of Igor Mayorov, not stupefying erotica, but shame, restlessness, a lost dream. In them the artist sees that highest, moral, God-pleasing purity, which distinguished many heroines of Russian literature.

Remember, Marina Tsvetaeva: "I always preferred to be recognized and shamed, rather than fictional and beloved"?

It should be noted that Igor Mayorov's Legacy is not only independent, original creativity, but it's artistic variations on the themes of the works of favorite artists. In the course of his life he experienced a strong passion for the art of M. Shagal, V. Kandinsky, B. Tyshler, A. Zverev, E. Mikhnov-Voitenko. Possessing a subtle understanding of artistic styles, the author appears in his numerous reminiscences with an exquisite and beautiful epigone, which persistently seeks to continue the creative search for one or another master.

This - a kind of "phoenix", the revival of the ashes of that which perished, is not preserved or was not created by its predecessors. This feeling of remembering and falling in love with the work of another master is akin to V. Bryusov's attempts to write the last chapter of "Eugene Onegin."

But the favorite medal has two sides. The subtlety of the perception of art and the sincere delight experienced by Igor Mayor before creativity, along with the lack of vanity, allows him to put on his replicas - not his signature. So there were dozens of new sheets of Shemyakin, hundreds of Mikhnov-Voitenko and about three thousand works of A. Zverev. Igor is engaged in stylization. "Igorek works as a whole factory produces" - said L. N. Gumilev.

And only when the work was liked less - he left his autograph. Usually it is written in Latin letters, its incomplete surname, or monogram. Well, and if you really did not like the work - without hesitation, tore. Friends who have seen this childish self-vindication more than once tried to stop the artist but it was useless. Generous talent was uncompromisingly demanding to himself.

It seemed that Igor had to live a long time to throw out all that had been revealed. But the artist's life was cut short. Early, tragically in time. Out of place. When he was 44 years old...

But life made him, deadly sick, his last joyful gift - acquaintance with the work of the German artist Emil Nolde.

In the summer of 1990 an exhibition of works by E. Nolde took place in Moscow. Robert Gabitov brought Igor hospital exhibition catalog. The book that was seen shocked the sick artist.

- What, no worse than A. Zverev? Robert asked.

- A hundred times better!

And there was a series, during the last eight months of Igor's life, consisting of three hundred works, in which E. Nolde continues. Igor Mayorov seems to be trying to recreate that part of the work of the German painter, who died under Hitler, and wants to have time to express what has disappeared without a trace and is no longer available to us. And again a gallery of people emerging either from German expressionism, or from visions of Petersburg's nightmares. Either replication, or something of its own, deep, last ... A sharp contour, swiftly running, suddenly breaking, confused in the opposite lines. It seems that even a moment and a contour, with its energy, a sheet will cut. Emerald green contrasts with violet accents, dark purple, in their bloody tension. And black frosty streaks, and shades, shades, shades ... Each centimeter of these last sheets carries its own unique color power, its secret intertwining of smears, spots, twists. In this last color ecstasy on the theme of E. Nolde, Igor Mayorov seems to be in a hurry to express everything, for which days have not yet been released.

I do not know exactly which work of the artist was the last. I think it's the "Ghost" - the composition is mystical, terrible, when the world has lost its clarity, when everything is clear and the hour has come. And the physical form itself turns into the element of hostility. What is it? Agony? The ghost of life or the specter of death? It seems that nothing could be further. This is a completely different Igor Mayorov. Only recognizable and subdued light movement of the brush and amazing skill. But this work is written by the author who took his end.

Igor Mayorov was an artist at the call of his heart, the artist of feeling. Shortly before his death, he told his friends: "Zverev liberated me, and Nolde gave me color." I just want to live, I just know how to do, how to write, if I stay, I'll create it! "

But he did not stay, he did not have time. He left with the feeling that he did not do his main job. After which the artist can die.

On March 31, 1991, Igor Mayorov passed away.
Marina Dashkova "The romance with Faberge"
St. Petersburg, 1995, The almanac library" Petropol"
All the works of I. E. Mayorov exhibited in our gallery VGAL.ru have an expert opinion on the authenticity of the works!
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Home Photoarchive of Mayorov
Galina Zykalina (owner of the gallery) and mother of Igor Mayorov - Anna Vasilievna Mayorova in her apartment in St. Petersburg. August, 2007.
In connection with a large number of fake works attributed to the authorship of I. E. Mayorov - VGAL.ru Gallery strongly recommends learning about the existence of an expert opinion on the authenticity of works!