Adieu à la Russie, Lidia Masterkova, exh. cat., Galerie Dina Vierny, Paris (25 January – 25 February 1977), Paris, Galerie Dina Vierny, 1977
Lidia Masterkova, Striving upward to the real, Contemporary Russian art center of America, New York, 10 February – 17 April 1983→
Vladimir Nemukhin. Facets of Formalism / Lydia Masterkova. Lyrical Abstraction, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscou, 15 April – 31 May 2015
This painter of Russian origins came from an artistic milieu. The 1957 exhibition of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow, which presented the innovative research of the West, gave an impetus to her early works, which testify to her interests “from Cézanne to French contemporary painting, from El Greco to abstract forms,” as she stated. By the end of the 1950s, Lidia Masterkova’s style, which could fall under Abstract Expressionism, made her one of the first Soviet Russian abstract painters in the second half of the 20th century. She was part of the Lianozovo group, which brought together non-conforming and unofficial artists from the 1950s to 1970s, amongst whom were the painters Oskar Rabine and Vladmir Niémoukhine, her future husband. The couple represented non-figuration, alongside Lev Kropivitski and others. The painter participated in several scandalous exhibitions, such as that at the Druzhba Club on the Enthusiasts’ Chausée, which closed two hours after opening, as well as that in the Izmaïlovo forest, an exhibition destroyed by bulldozers in 1974. In 1975, she moved to Paris and stayed in France until her death.
Her body of work unfolds across oil paintings, works on paper, as well as collages for which she used old fabrics such as lace and brocade, materials mostly found in churches. She worked particularly in cycles (Planètes, 1976; Triptyques). Her installation Météorites consists of nine compositions in three groups of three paintings. The painter expressed a predilection for the circular form, drawing symbolism from Dante. In 2004, she created her “planet parades”, a series of mandalas in ink on paper dedicated to great Russian authors. In this sense, L. Masterkova produced a hermetic abstraction oscillating between organic polychrome forms and constructions of a more ascetic palette, never rigid, always in a constant state of vibration. Of great formal elegance and a strong metaphysical charge, her body of work distinguished itself through the lyrical and rhythmic movement of its lines, close to that of music. According to one of her poet friends, Vsévolod Nékrassov, she “painted orchestrally”.
Lidia Masterkova, Composition avec dauphins, 1989, mixed media and collage on canvas, 100 x 81 cm, private collection
Lidia Masterkova, Composition 5, 1976, collage ink, wash and cut paper on paper, 61.6 x 44.5 cm, private collection
Lidia Masterkova, Untitled, 1970, oil on canvas laid down on board, 107.3 x 98.4 cm, private collection