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Nicolai Fechin
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
by Amanda Manitach


Nicolai Fechin, ''Lady in Pink (Portrait of Natalia Podbelskaya),'' 1912, oil on canvas, 45 1/2 x 35''.

 

Continuing through May 19, 2013

 

Fifty-five paintings and drawings by Russian-American artist Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) are the subject of this retrospective exhibit, which provides an enthralling overview of work by an émigré artist whose savage style channeled the energy of his time. Fechin moved to New York in 1923, fleeing a troubled post-revolutionary Russia, and went on to achieve international acclaim for portraits made with thick, bright pigments barely diluted with oil and a heavy-handed dry brush technique. 

 

His sitters — like the sultry "Lady in Pink" — are portrayed on the cusp of abstraction, as though crawling out of the paint, with bright, pallid flesh, slightly bared teeth, and flushed lips. Fechin’s equally charismatic charcoal portraits on paper are drawn with the delicacy and technical precision of a Renaissance-era draughtsman. However, like the paintings, these images tremble with uncanny, feral energy that captures the zeitgeist of an era equally fascinated by the psychological, the spiritual, and the abstract.

Frye Art Museum

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