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 Alexander Pogrebinsky  (20th century)

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Lived/Active: Ohio / Russian Federation      Known for: allegory, religious genre, portrait

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Ad Code: 4
Alexander Pogrebinsky
from Auction House Records.
untitled landscape with trees
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born into an artistic family in Kiev, Russia, Alexander Pogrebinsky grew up with parents who were distinguished artists of the Socialist Realist school of painting in the Soviet Union. They were Peter Nikolayevich Pogrebinsky (1911 - 2002) and his Liubov Romanovna Solona (1914 - 1990) both graduates of the Kiev Institute of Art, now known as the Kiev Academy of Arts.

In 1958, Pogrebinsky entered a special French school, where all subjects where taught in the French language, and in 1963, he entered the only high school for the arts in the whole of Ukraine. Along with the regular curriculum of the school, it also offered intense courses in the fine arts, and prepared the young students for the future as professional artists. The first four years where dedicated to watercolor, drawing, sculpture, and composition, and Pogrebinsky, like the other students, used live models for his studies. It was around this time in school that Pogrebinsky became interested in the ancient art of Yoga. Through Yoga he became fascinated by the ancient philosophies and religions of ancient India. And later the study of German philosophy, and world philosophy in general.

He wished to read many books in their original language, which influenced Pogrebinsky to study foreign languages. In 1970, he entered a three year course in foreign languages, and in 1971, at the age of 20, he received a degree in French. His fluency and degree earned him the right to teach and translate in the Soviet Union.

In 1970 Pogrebinsky passed the competitive entrance examinations for the Art Institute of Kiev, which accepted only 15 new students per Major every year from about 350 who applied annually. The Institute consisted of six Majors: Painting, Graphics, Sculpture, Theatre, Art History, and Architecture, and he entered the Institute with Painting as his Major.

In the course of six years Pogrebinsky studied the subjects of Painting, Drawing, Composition, Perspective, Technology of Art Materials, Anatomy, Basics of Architecture, and a whole school of theoretical subjects like philosophy, art history, etc. He studied in the studio of Academician Victor Vasilievich Shatalin, Professor, and National Artist of the Soviet Union. Pogrebinsky greatly respected and loved his teacher, and this led to an ongoing friendship.

In 1976 Pogrebinsky graduated from the Institute with a diploma of an Artist in the Art of Painting. After this Pogrebinsky began working as an independent artist, with commissions and exhibitions.

In 1987 Pogrebinsky painted "Komsomol", for which he received the First Lenin Prize of the Ukrainian Komsomol (could be the equivalent of Pulitzer Prize, but in artistic achievement). In the same year Pogrebinsky was accepted into the Union of Artists, which was rare for an artist of his age. Also that year Pogrebinsky was accepted into the Academy of Arts of the USSR, the highest educational institution for artists.

In the Academy Pogrebinsky was taught in the studio of Sergei Alexeavich Grigoriev, National Artist of the Soviet Union, and Academician, and he was also under the supervision of Academician Alexander Gritsai.

During these years Alexander produced paintings which were displayed in national exhibitions, as well as those of the republics of the USSR. As his dissertation Pogrebinsky painted "To The Top", a painting about alpinists, and researching fro this work took Pogrebinsky to the Republic of Georgia to collect materials.

In 1979 Pogrebinsky met with Lena Zinchenko at the studio of sculptor Sergei Youhno, and in 1980 they were married and two children were born, Alexander and Natalie.

Every year Pogrebinsky displayed his work at the exhibitions in Moscow and Kiev, and worked on his private commissions. One of his most famous works of the time was the triptych "Let There Be Sunshine", which was composed in 1984. The artist used his wife and children as the models for this work, and throughout the years Pogrebinsky's family appears to be the main source of modeling for his work.

The central part of the triptych was published in the famous magazine "Ukraine", equivalent to America's "Time Magazine". The triptych was purchased by the Ministry of Culture of the Ukraine, and to this day is displayed at different exhibitions in Kiev.

Another famous work of the time was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, the painting Lenin and the American Journalist Williams. This historical work can be found in the Museum of Kiev.

Out of his personal works, not commissioned by any Soviet officials, was "Vroubel" which is located in the Museum of Kiev. And the painting masterpiece In the "Memory of Mikhail Boulgakov" or Boulgakov, which was displayed in France and purchased by a private American collector. This painting was one of the last great works of the artists Soviet Period.

The decision to immigrate, which they did in 1990, was extremely difficult for the family. Without knowing anybody and with only three suitcases, Pogrebinsky and his family had to start from scratch. A new world with its own customs and culture was yet another challenge in Pogrebinsky's life. Fortunately his understanding of Western languages proved helpful to the young artist and his family. A reporter for the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" wrote, "In deciding to leave, the Pogrebinsky's said goodbye to family and friends, and killed a familiar way of life."

Thus began a new period for the artist. With his paints and paintbrushes he brought with him from the USSR he began to create his first works in America. His first works were mostly landscapes and still-lifes and then he added portraits.

And hearkening back to his career in Russia, Pogrebinsky also painted big canvases of deep philosophical and historical meaning, including "What Is the Truth?" which was exhibited at the Newman Religious Art Show in Cleveland.

The following years Pogrebinsky exhibited in many different galleries throughout Ohio, California, and the Washington D.C. area. In 1995 Pogrebinsky painted the well-known portrait of the Cleveland Catholic Bishop Anthony Pilla.

Soon after the portrait the Cleveland Diocese ordered the historic collage of the Diocese's 150th Anniversary, a project that involved long periods of studying Cleveland's Catholic cathedrals, and traveling widely across Northeast Ohio to collect materials. The work can be found on display at the St. John Cathedral in downtown Cleveland.

Following this commission came many others, among them the portraits of the presidents of John Carroll University, Father Lavelle and Father Schell. Also Father Cozzens, author and the President of St. Mary's Seminary. Founder and Chairman of Reality One Real Estate Vincent Aveni and others.

Among his personal works of this period it is important to note the triptych "Moon, Earth, Sun", for which the family of the artist was used as models. This triptych was displayed at the artist's one-man show in 1998 in Washington D.C. In 1999 "Muse", another personal composition, toured the world with other works of the Ohio Art Council.

In 2001 Pogrebinsky participated in the annual Salon D'Autumne in Paris, France.

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