Olga Chernysheva (b. 1962) is a Moscow-based artist who trained in animation at the Russian State University of Cinematography and also studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. Chernysheva explores the social aspects of life, making the mundane and peripheral aspects of it the focus of her art. She represented Russia in the 2001 Venice Biennale and is currently included in All the World’s Futures curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Olga also participates in Drawing Now: 2015 at the Albertina in Vienna (until 11 October 2015). Chernysheva's work can be found in international museums and private collections including MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris. She is represented by Pace Gallery in London/New York.
An Egyptian polychrome Fayum portrait with gilding. Roman Period, circa 2nd century A.D. Estimate: £100,000-150,000. This piece will be offered in our Antiquities sale on 1 October at Christie’s in London
Tancredi Massimo di Roccasecca, co-curator and Christie’s specialist: Just as the artist of this wonderful Fayum portrait gives us a glimpse of female life and fashion in the 2nd century A.D., so Olga Chernysheva provides a window into the world of women in post-Soviet Russia. The work shown at the top of the page and this one therefore attempt to represent the sociological value of the quotidian, a common link which is visible in virtually all portraiture from antiquity to the present day. Whilst Chernysheva’s subject remains faceless, the Fayum portrait by this unknown artist is full of detail. Indeed the gilded laurel wreath gently placed upon the woman’s head informs the viewer of her high birth, whereas it is the subject’s very anonymity and common knitted hat in Chernysheva’s work which, from a sociological perspective, shows us someone from the opposite end of the spectrum.
Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Head of a Bearded Man. Oil on oak panel. Estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000. This work will be offered in our Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale on 9 July at Christie’s in London
Milo Dickinson, co-curator and Christie’s specialist: Painted with extraordinary artistry by one of the greatest masters of all time, Rubens’ Head of a Bearded Man can be interpreted as an expression on the power and ingenuity of the individual. By contrast, Chernysheva's Waiting for a Miracle (at top of page) is a response to this focus on personality, using a repetitive common viewpoint and a focus on the mundane in a powerful encapsulation of how society shapes us. Rubens’ use of chiaroscuro, the bold play of light and shade across the surface, holds our eye, just as Chernyshev’'s juxtaposition of bright and textured hats have a similar effect. Rubens asks us to bask in the glory of his sitter, but Chernysheva denies such easy gratification, placing the anonymous and unknown on an equal pedestal.
Emil Nolde. Doppelbild (Sie seltsames licht), 1918. Oil on canvas. Estimate: £400,00-600,000. This work will be offered in our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 23 June at Christie’s in London
Bianca Chu, co-curator and Christie’s Specialist: In Chernysheva’s work, the focus on the circular form of the lone Russian babooshka’s hat covers the photograph, meaning the viewer is immediately confronted with questions: What is she thinking? What kind of stories and experiences reside in her head? In contrast, Emil Nolde’s 1918 painting Doppelbild (Sie seltsames Licht) (Double Portrait (You Strange Light)) presents an angular dual portrait of a man and woman formed in warm and expressive tones of deep golden yellow and carmine red, painted with thick and generous brushstrokes. Yet it also conjures questions: Who is this pair? What is their relationship? While Chernysheva explores a specific social figure in solitude — a snapshot of photographic accuracy, Nolde portrays two figures in solidarity, expressed with emotive and lingering gesture, with the hand of artist clearly at work.
Main image at top: Olga Chernysheva, Waiting for The Miracle, 2000. Analog print. 100 cm x 150 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery London/New York
Explore Christie’s Curates. For more features, interviews and videos, visit Christie’s Daily