Vladimir Shinkarev (b.1954) is one of the most important contemporary Russian painters and an author of very popular and funny books – “Mitki” and “Maxim and Fyodor”. From 1984 he became a founder member of the Mitki – Saint Petersburg collective of artists, working in a variety of media, from music and publishing to writing and film-making. The members of Mitki drank cheap port wine, dressed shabbily, often wearing black and white Russian military shirts, and rejected the avant-garde and the trendy. Instead of offering a view of the idealised communism of the Socialist Realists, the Mitki focused on everyday subjects with gentle, self-deprecating humour.

In 1997-1999 Shinkarev created “World Literature” series of works based on sixteen books, some famous, some barely known – Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, the “Red Cavalry” by Babel, and “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky. In 2001-2006 Shinkarev worked on a “World cinema” project, dedicated both to the history of the cinema and to the 20th century history itself. From the 1990s he worked on the series “Gloomy Paintings” featuring urban landscapes in and around Saint Petersburg. Shinkarev explains his choice of gloomy shades as a form of resistance to contemporary culture “associated with bold synthetic colours of advertising, that have stained intricate harmonious colours of the real world”. Shinkarev’s painting presents the viewer with the entire varied range of the artist’s meditations on life: melancholy landscapes, ascetic images of nudes and still lives. Crucially, painting is understood as the soul’s only salvation in the world, painful as the artists’ effort may be.

Selected exhibitions

2004 «The great Chinese wall» Nomi, Saint Petersburg
2000 «Mitki in the UN» United Nations Headquarters in New York
2001 «World literature», White Space Gallery, London
1999 ««World literature», The State Russian Museum
1999 «Gloomy paintings», The State Centre of Modern Art, Saint Petersburg,

Selected collections

The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg
The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
The Historical Museum, Saint Petersburg
The Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art “Erarta”, Saint Petersburg
The Museum of Non-Conformist Art, Saint Petersburg