Elmbridge Magazine, 2012. Eastern Promise
As art dealer Leonid Shishkin creates a home from home in Weybridge for his prestigious clients, Carol Cordrey explores the rush on Russian art
Тhree Graces: lustrous and sacred qualities in the iconic work of Ivan Sandyrev
In recent years, interest in Russian art has developed internationally, in line with
the country's drift away from communism towards a more open society. It's a change
that has enabled its artists to grab the attention of the global art market, where their work
often breaks auction records.
Furthermore, this trend has been bolstered by wealthy Russians arriving in prestigious
locations like St George's Hill, Weybridge, decorating their new homes with works of art
that serve to reconnect them with home.
At the beginning of 2012, a distinguished Moscow gallery found that a number of its
clients had relocated to the UK. Accordingly, it created a branch that would make it convenient
for them to source Russian art. Location? Right in the heart of Weybridge.
Leonid Shishkin has spent the past 20 years developing his eponymous gallery into one of
Moscow's most acclaimed, private art dealerships. The gallery has nurtured a strong
relationship with the artistic community - in particular, with Moscow's Pushkin Museum of
Fine Arts - and it exhibits around the world, including at the heavily vetted Olympia
International Fine Art & Antiques Fair, here in London.
It gives valuations and advice to new and experienced collectors around the globe,
including suggestions on how to start a collection.
The gallery is also keen to acquire top quality Russian paintings, especially those from
the Russian Impressionist period, 1930-80. Severe restrictions control the export
from Russia of many historic works of art, but there is much greater freedom
concerning 20th century art, which is the specialism of Leonid Shishkin.
Russian, US and British clients regularly visit the Weybridge premises - the
Russians in pursuit of work by their best-known artists, the British and Americans hungry
for images they associate with Russian ballet and opera, as well as the light-filled
Impressionist paintings which we Westerners so deeply crave. An example of the
former is The Lady with the Camelias, a stage design for the ballet by Yuri Pimenov, while
Nikolay Gorlov represents the Impressionist style.
From Ivan Sandyrev we have a modern interpretation of Byzantine icon painting, in
which lustrous skin tones and facial expressions lend the figures a sacred quality.
Sandyrev's work is held in private and public collections around the world.
And then there is Dmitry Nalbandian, an award-winning portrait and landscape painter
whose skills in both genres are apparent in such works as Fishermen at Port Piret, Greece.
Here wonderful realism recalls our own Stanhope Forbes, founder of the Newlyn School.
In the world of art, i t is no longer true that the Russians are coming. They have already
well and truly arrived.
• Leonid Shishkin Gallery, St George's House (opposite Cafe Rouge), 24 Queens Rd,
Weybridge. Tel: (01932) 841323.