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The Last Chapter
 

 It seems the artist was born on purpose not to let his compatriots forget their great past. Like an Old Testament prophet he was set to hard  and unrewarding job: to remind his contemporaries those things they were trying to forget. The nature of his relation to objects of cultural heritage is close to religious awe. Smirnov's Paintings are golden dreams of Humanity about their great past.
                                                                                                            Elena Rudenko
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  • 1997, December - Nikolai Smirnov's works has been exhibited at major Art Manezh International Fair in Moscow presented by New Testament Ark Gallery (Kovcheg Novogo Zaveta).

  • 1998 - Smirnov's one man show took place at Moscow's Helicon Opera House. Smirnov's works are being exhibited at the Spring Art Salon exhibition (Central House of Artists, Moscow) with the New Testament Ark Gallery. The artist created the series of stained glass window designs for Leonid Shishkin Gallery (Moscow).

  • 1999 - Nikolai painted several icons for the Deisis Order for the Pavlovskaya Sloboda Cathedral in the suburbs of Moscow. February, 1999 - "The Moscow Tradition" art exhibition shown the works of Nikolai Smirnov and other three artists: Tatyana Nazarenko, Vladimir Liubarov, Tatiana Chernova

     

  • 2000 - as a gift from one of his fans Nikolai received a British breed kitten which he named Archibald and which has become his companion and comforter for several years to come. The artists included Archibald the Cat as a character into several of his paintings that have  eventually formed the series with the title "Provincial Life of Archibald the Cat". He painted the "Tea Party", followed later by the "Song about Vodka", "The Beer Lover" in which addressed Boris Kustodiev motifs. He also painted several smaller scale works in the tradition of his beloved artist of the past Victor Borisov-Musatov trying different way to find his new place in a quickly changing Russian art market reality. Quite a few of those works has been sold via Leonid Shishkin Gallery art auctions and ended up at various collections oversees. In the Summer after a heart attack Nikolai ended up in the hospital and undergoes coronary bypass surgery of the heart vessels. He quickly recovered and returned to a normal life.

  • 2001 - Together with Archibald the cat he moved from Moscow to a quiet town of Puschino on Oka-river where he bought a modest two bedroom apartment and transformed it into a sort of residential studio. For living he continued to carry out his icon painting orders for the churches.

  • In February, 2001, he travelled to Seychelles and South Africa as a member of a delegation of the Academy of Natural Arts and Sciences in which he was included along with his fellow artists Gennady Provotorov and Valery Balabanov. During this trip an art enthusiast and Smirnov's friend Aleksander Sploshnov recorded a long and thorough interview with the artist which consisted of Q&A, the artists’ reflections on himself and his art and was supposed to become a material for the future film about Nikolai Smirnov.

  • 2002 - Nikolai painted two works which might be considered as his self-portraits. The "Song about Vodka" where he represents himself as hedonist dressed as a nobleman from the past and surrounded by antique objects and "Romantic Message" where he painted himself wearing an Empire officer uniform and his affection of that time - dressed as a noble lady of the Empire era. 

  • In the Summer 2002 Nikolai joins Leonid Shishkin and his family in their travels to Spain and the South of France and visited Barcelona, Figueiras,  Montserrat, Montpellier, Avignon, St.Remy, Arles, Carcasson.   

  

  • 2003 - Smirnov returned to painting large scale historical still-lives. He conceived the idea of the new series called "The Great Historic Epochs" and started the "Gothic Age".

  • 2004 - In Spring he was travelling around Italy with Leonid Shishkin aiming to accumulate impressions and ideas for his "Renaissance" painting and visited Rome, Assisi, Florence, Siena, Venice, Verona and Milan. In August he travelled to Russian North and visited Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Vologda and Totma.

  • Along with the art critic Elena Rudenko Smirnov began putting together the materials for his monographic album and started negotiating with the collectors owning his painting to get them on loan for the future exhibition planned for 2006. At the end of the year Smirnov prepares the wooden board for the new large-scale painting "The Tsarist Hunt". He met Tatyana Konik who became his partner and a civil spouse.​

  • 2005 - He moved from Puschino back to Moscow to live together with Tatyana in her Moscow apartment and rented the next door flat to use it as his studio where he kept working on the "Tsarist Hunt".

  • In Spring, 2005, an old acquaintance of Smirnov artist Aleksander Konoplev, the corresponding member of Russia’s Academy of Fine Art, made a design for Smirnov's monographic album

  • In the Summer, 2005, along with Tatyana Konik and the Shishkin family Nikolai Smirnov travelled to Italy and explored Siena, Perugia and Rome.

  • In November, 2005, Smirnov had his heart problems again. He was treated at the hospital preparing for the repeat coronary bypass surgery. On the 7th December he was discharged from the hospital having put off the operation due to a bad blood test. In the evening of Saturday 10 December in the flat of Tatyana Konik the artist passed away from a heart attack. He was buried in Moscow at Vagankovskoe Cemetery.

 

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