The other day, I discovered a new artist: Alexey Isupov (1889-1957), better known to the public as Alessio Issupoff, the Italianised version of his Russian name. Born in provincial Vyatka, educated in Moscow and in love with Russia all is life, he is little known back home. In fact, only serious art historians and art collectors would know his name.
His art style changed dramatically over the years. We could roughly divide his life into four periods that has impact on his art:
1) 1908-15, the ‘Moscow period’, when he studied in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (until 1913), supervised by the renowned Russian artists Apollinary Vasnetsov, Abram Arkhipov, Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov. He definitely plays with Impressionism there.
2) 1915-21, the ‘Turkestan period’, when he did his military service in Central Asia. While in Central Asia, he painted numerous views of daily Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz life and copied the ornamental designs of unique architectural monuments in Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent.
3) 1922-25, the ‘Soviet period’, when he was back in Moscow and was experimenting with Social Realism.
4) 1926-57, the ‘Rome period’. He went for medical treatment to Italy in 1926 and stayed there. During the Second World War, he was an active participant of the resistance movement in Rome. He achieved fluency in Italian, adopted a new name and entered the history of art of the twentieth century as an Italian artist. The wider Russian public is yet to discover and embrace him.
I am particular fascinated by his ‘Turkestani period’. It is amazing that he managed to have a glimpse of, what we know call, Central Asia before the Soviets carved 5 republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan out of a massive geocultural entity ‘Turkestan’. Back in 1915, those lands, despite being in the Russian Empire since the late nineteenth century, were a living history of the Bukhara, Khiva and Kokand khanates.
If you are interested to learn more of Alessio Issupoff (and you read Russian), then here is a good link.