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Widely considered to be among the most talented and idiosyncratic representatives of Russian painting throughout the 1960’s and well into the 90’s, the works of underground artist and master iconographer Boris Kozlov (1937 – 1999) continue to impress both Russian art enthusiasts and private collectors. Having exhibited his work throughout the former Soviet Union and the West, Kozlov’s paintings have been purchased by museums and patrons and have been shown in more than 40 countries. This, however, in spite of falling victim to Soviet-era suppression of artistic freedom and expression, which eventually prohibited any public display or mention of his work for more than 20 years.
Unknown, if not repressed, in most books documenting the history of Russia's non-conformist movement, Kozlov first exhibited his paintings in Moscow in 1963 and shortly thereafter was forced underground for outwardly spiritual themes, form, and content. Nevertheless, among the artistic intelligentsia of the time, Kozlov occupied a distinguished place in Russian culture. With a background in abstract and figurative styles, merging with expressionism and surrealism, his body of work stands apart from all other contemporaries and friends, including Alexander Kharitonov, Dmitri Plavinsky, and Oscar Rabine. Major influences on his technique and approach came forth from Byzantine icon masters, French impressionism (primarily Cézanne), and Russian modernists (most notably Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and Pavel Kuznetsov). However, despite any influence, Kozlov's method, aesthetic, and sensibilities are uniquely his own and are overwhelmingly recognizable.
Perhaps what makes Kozlov’s contribution to Russian art so unequaled is his clear and simple vision in defining the infinite. His is a world of exaltation atonement, forgiveness, mercy, benevolence, and ultimately redemption. To impart a sense of visual wonder in his work may have come naturally. However, to be defiant in the face of conformity, to artistically thrive in the wake of oppression, to actually seek transcendence in his art, wins him and his master paintings a special place in Russia’s lost art history.
1964 Moscow Energy Institute, Moscow, USSR; 1965 Institute of Atomic Energy, Dubna, USSR; 1967 Private Gallery, Lugano, Italy; 1970 Private Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland; 1971 Private Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark; 1990 Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, USSR; 1991 Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, USSR; 1991 Znamensky Cathedral, The Kremlin, Moscow, USSR; 1991 Private Gallery, Caserta, Italy; 1991 Private Gallery, Washington, D.C., USA; 1992 Private Gallery, St. Petersburg, Russia; 1993 Private Gallery, Kaliningrad, Russia; 1993 Central Club of Artists, Moscow, Russia; 1993 Armand Hammer Center, Moscow, Russia; 1995 Central Club of Architects, Moscow, Russia; 1996 Private Gallery, Washington, D.C., USA; 1998 National Arts Club, New York, USA; 1999 Central Artists' House, Moscow, Russia; 2000 Soros Center for Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
Information courtesy of Leonid Kelner