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Odessa Museum Of Modern Art


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Hall 2. The Legend of the Odessa Underground Valentin Khrushch and Stanislav Sychev

Two legendary Odessa artists, Valentin Khrushch and Stanislav Sychev. They were united by the first illegal exhibition held in the USSR in the summer of 1967 forever. The exhibition “legalized” their names: “Sychik + Khrushchik” as well.

Hall 2 interior
Hall 2 interior

Hall 2 interior
1 - Alexey Ivanov, 2 - Eugene Golubovskii, 3 - Igor Belenkov, 4 - Lucien Dulfan
Fence exhibition. Odessa. 1967. Photo by Michael Rybak.
«Nude with a chair»
«The Lying One»
«The Naked»
«Sweet Odessa, I Am at Home»
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Valentin Khrushch is the legend of the Odessa Underground of the second half of the XX century. The temperamental artistry in his behavior as well as in the petty details of everyday life is akin to that of the leaders of the French (or rather Parisian) avant-garde. Still, the most important thing is his artistic gift: softness, gentleness, aestheticism and humor in every stroke, fluency in watercolor and gouache painting, as well as fluency in all painting styles, collages, sculpture and virtuoso wood carving. Still-lifes and abstractions, nudes and landscapes - the range of pictorial works by V. Khrushch is immense. Little fish (probably Odessa gobies and scads), lying on a plate or a newspaper, became his trademark.
Valentin Khrushch was born in Odessa in 1943. In the 50s he studied at the Odessa Art School (being taught by talented and delicate N. Zaytsev), but he was expelled from there for his “left deviation”. He was the heart and soul as well as an organizer of informal “apartment” exhibitions in Odessa and in Moscow. At the beginning of the 80s he lived in Belyaevo near Moscow. He gathered a group (a colony) of young Odessa painters “Eau-de-Cologne” around himself. He taught lots of inhabitants of Odessa. His influence was also felt by some Moscow painters (among them those conceptualists who later received their worldwide recognition) surrounding him in Belyaevo.
Valentin Khrushch died in 2005.
Despite the lack of official recognition, a permanent participant of the Odessa and Moscow “apartment” and other illegal exhibitions, V.Khrushch was well-known in the USSR and abroad while alive as the most talented and popular representative of the Odessa Underground . His works are kept in prestigious world painting collections of the XX century, they are also successfully sold at the world auctions.

Stanislav Sychev was born in 1937 in Odessa.
In 1955 he entered the Odessa Art School. After graduation from the Art School, he left for Samarkand, where he worked successfully.
Despite some opening prospects of an early official recognition, in 1963 Sychev comes back to Odessa.
The hometown didn’t meet him cordially as contradictions between the officialism and the underground were aggravating at that moment. Sychev was not accepted as a member of the Union of Artists, so, he appeared to be cut off any participation in the exhibitions, having neither a social status nor any help from the state.
The artist didn’t exhibit his works officially, but for two times, when the vigilant inspectors failed to see anything suspicious. These two exhibitions (the last one was only three days long) were enough for Sychev to be accused of being a “decadent”.
It was in those “decadent” years when S.Sychev’s pictorial system was formed, being based on “dense” “aggressive” painting, with the color being paid most attention to. The color became the main operating element of the painting, a clot of energy, bringing together all the monumentalism and lyrics. The painting “Hamlet” stands out from the whole exposition. It seems to be one of the best works of the artist. Beside lyricism, the author managed to convey a tragic loneliness among alien human masks haunting both the Prince of Denmark and the artist himself.
«Apartment exhibitions» became the only outlet for Sychev for many years. Being not anxious about everyday well-being, he sort of left the surface of the life and was doing his stuff – painting. His life was not easy, distressingly, but he never stopped painting.
Оnly in 1989 Stanislav Sychev’s first official exhibition was held. It became a real event. In the 90s after a number of other successful exhibitions the artist became generally recognized at last.
Stanislav Sychev died in 2003.
The art works of the artist have been exhibited at international auctions. They are kept in prestigious museums and private collections in many countries of the world. Among the works by Odessa artists, the works by S. Sychev were the first to be sold at Sotbis auction.