Pavel Leonov

This Russian artist, who is entirely self-taught, is considered to be one of the great 20th-Century masters of Naive Art. His paintings are characteristically composed of a complex of discreet spatial elements across which, nevertheless, figures and animals appear to interact. Leonov refers to these individual sections as ‘television sets’ or ‘rooms’. It is, perhaps, a sign of the Russian context that he refers to his works as ‘constructions’, as opposed to the ‘naturalism’ he defines as being synonymous with an art school education. Yet this is clearly not the Constructivism of early Soviet art, as exemplified in the likes of Popova or Rodchenko, but a kind of magic realism that is much more in keeping with folk traditions and the popular imagery of Russian lubki, Leonov’s uncompromising attachment to the hermetic ‘other’ reality manifest in his paintings, together with an intransigent nature have led to him spending several years of his life in Soviet prison camps, including an extended period after his war service in Hungary. In spite of being socially ostracised Leonov’s images dwell not on hardship or any harboured bitterness, but reveal in tangible form the ideal reality of his dreams.

The artist is represented in many museums worldwide, including The Charlotte Zander Museum, Germany, and The Russian National House of Folk Art, Moscow.
His work has also been exhibited at the Slovak National Gallery; in 1997 he won the prestigious ‘Grand Prix Insita Laureat’ award at the International Festival of Naive Art.


Charlotte Zander Museum, Germany, and The Russian National House of Folk Art, Moscow


Pavel Leonov
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