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becoming an artist

 I paint very slowly: one canvas per year and sometimes around two years. I work with tempera: it is a delicate and capricious technique, I have to sweat over every single centimetre. Believe me, this is torture, it drives me nuts. But I  want my objects to speak up.

                                                                                                      Nikolay Smirnov

  • 1967 - Nikolai married Tatiana Rankova, the daughter of the artists Mikhail Rankov and Elena Rodova, the students of Robert Falk.

  • 1969 - began working as an editor at the publishing house "Izobrazitelnoe Iskusstvo" ("Fine Art"), where he has soon been promoted to a chief editor of art album edition.

  • 1971 - He painted the "Flowers and Cards", his first attempt to make a tromp-l'oeil for a bet with friends after visiting Kuskovo Estate and Stately House and seeing an original 18 century tromp l'oeil picture in the museum art collection. This may be considered as a beginning of his long way for creating the genre of "historical still-lives".

  • 1972 -  His daughter Ekaterina was born.

  • 1974-1976 - He painted "Silouettes" still-life. Finished the "Old St Petersburg" painting. Both works has been painted to prove the skill to himself. There was no intention to exhibit them or show in public.

  • 1977- Nikolai painted yet another work "Scorched watercolour" and on the advice of his colleague at the publishers Nina Plavinskaya, a wife of the famous artist Dmitry Plavinsky, he offered three of his works for the exhibition committee of the Union of Artists and Designers on Malaya Gruzinskaya. His works were immediately accepted for the exhibition, they had a success with spectators and found buyers. Following this first success Nikolai quit the work at the publishers and became a member of the Union of Artists and Designers, thus he started a new life of a freelancer artist. This year he painted yet another two works "Crucified Books" and "Blue Bird".

  • 1978 - On 3 March the first exhibition of the "Twenty Moscow Artists of the Moscow's Committee of Designers" on Malaya Gruzinskaya opened. Smirnov participated there along with S.Bleze, V.Glukhov, D.Gordeyev, T.Glytneva, V.Linitsky, A.Lepin, K.Nagapetyan, V.Provotorov, V.Petrov, V.Petrov, (junior), N.Rumyantsev, I.Snegur, V.Saveliev, V.Skobelev, M.Sterligova, V.Sazonov, A.Tumanov, S.Sharov.

  • 1979-1982 - Regular participant in "Twenty art group" exhibitions on Malaya Gruzinskaya Street.

  • 1981 - an entire year the artist has been working  on the "Persian Motifs" painting which he later considered a turning point in his artistic career.

  • 1982 - A great scandal with Galina Brezhneva (a daughter of Leonid Brezhnev) has occurred at one of the art exhibitions. As a result Nikolay has been deprived  of his memebership of the City's Committee of Designers. Instead he obtain the membership of the Union of Artists of the USSR, not as an artist, but as an art critic.

  • 1984 - Nikolai Smirnov's first one man show took place in the Moscow House of Architects with more than ten works on display. In the same year Nikolai started his epic painting "To the Memory of of 1812" for the first time daring to increase the size of the board up to 140x175 cm.

  • 1985 - Several Smirnov's works are exhibited in the Basel International Art Fair.

  • 1986 - Nikolai began to paint another large scale painting "Books" (162x180 cm) which was intended to be exhibited at the important "Monuments of the Motherland" art show. In the summer of the same year he exhibited several his works in Essen (Germany) at Contemporary Soviet art exhibition organised at Ferrostaal JSC company. In the autumn of the same year at the "Monuments of Motherland" art show Smirnov's two works "To the Memory of 1812" and "Books" are displayed and became the centre of visitors' attention.

  • 1987 - In May edition of popular at the time lifestyle magazine "Ogoniok" (headed by Vitaly Korotich), in its coloured insert, Smirnov's four major works are published with an article by journalist Leonid Shishkin named "The Historical Still-lives of Nikolai Smirnov" which the next day makes him famous across the country.

  • 20 January - 12 March at Gismondi Gallery Paris the International exhibition of twelve artists working in tromp-l'oeil manner took place. The Galerie de France exhibited Nikolai Smirnov's  "To the Memory of Alexander Blok". The "Pushkin's Pages" painting is being exhibited in the Soviet Fine Art exhibition in Japan and received a Gold Medal of the Japan International Artists Society as the best foreign artist of the year in Japan.  Nikolay marries Irina Gerasimovich.

  • 1989 - Eight works by Smirnov are published in the colour insert of "The Red Book of Culture" accompanied by an article by Alexander Yakimovich.

  • 1990 - In Spring Nikolai travelled to Finland with a fellow artist Vladislav Provotorov (also a memeber of the Twenty Moscow Artists group) and was working there on the work "Great Peter"  commissioned by a Finnish art collector. On return to Moscow he finished his "Rarities" painting.  

  • 5th May 1990 in Paris took place an auction sale "Soviet Contemporary Art. The Property of Kniga Collection" organized by the Geneva Auction House "Habsburg Feldman". The collection consisted mainly from the works of non-conformist artists which had been acquired over the previous five years by the Parisian publisher and art collector Jose Alvarez. The collection  included such names as Ilya Kabakov,  Ivan Chuikov,  Nikolai Ovchinnikov, etc. Three of Nikolai Smirnov's works included in the sale has been sold: "To the Memory of 1812" - $ 36,600,  "Books" - $34,800, "Masquerade" - $13400.

  • 1991 - Nikolai began to work with Leonid Shishkin Gallery and created the designs for porcelain cheese boards commissioned by Leonid Shishkin. In December he left Moscow for La Pas on the invitation of Bolivian art collector.

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