Alexandr Onishenko

(1957 - present)


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Alexandr Onishenko

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His are not one-dimensional canvases, one can return to them again and again, each time discovering new depths, and hidden secrets.

Onishenko was born in 1957 in Chernihiv (also referred to as Chernigov) the capital of the Ukrainian province of Chernihiv Oblast. His artistic studies were encouraged and supported from an early age by his father. In 1979, he graduated from the Institute of Art in Kiev and became a member of the Russian Art Union. State regulation of the arts under the Soviet Union encouraged Onishenko and many other young artists to rebel and form an illegal artists’ collective, which was housed in the Yeletsky Monastery.

In 1981, Onishenko and several companions moved to the Tevriz district of the Omsk Provence in Siberia. After six years of “self-exile”, he returned to the Ukraine in 1987. Fleeing the increasing political turmoil in the years just before the fall of the Soviet Union, Onishenko moved to Yugoslavia briefly before settling in Prague, Czech Republic in 1991.

After years of painting on the famous Charles Bridge, Onishenko met with such success that he opened his own gallery in 1994 (Galerie Jakubska) in Prague’s Old Town. Onishenko presently resides in Prague and has become one the city’s most accomplished artists receiving both the Franz Kafka Prizeand the Masaryk Academy of Sciences Award.

The signatures style of Alexandr Onishenko’s Impressionism work includes exclusive use of the palette knife and painting on black canvases. The artist’s description of his own work as “New Impressionism” is not to be confused with the pointillism of Neo-Impressionism. Its own distinction lies in the use of a traditional impasto painting technique wherein paint is applied in heavy, textured quantity and sometimes even mixed directly on the surface of the canvas, while at the same time Onishenko departs dramatically from traditional Impressionism by beginning on a pitch-black surface. This reversal of the painting process – moving from darkness to light – brings with it the high level of contrast and vibrancy of color that the artist’s paintings are known for.

Alexandr Onishenko portrays a wide variety of subjects in his work. Still Lives, nudes, land and city-scapes are all well represented in his porfolio, but over the years one of his most famous motifs has remained his bird’s-eye perspective paintings of the rooftops of Prague. He is very well traveled and continues to be inspired in his work even years after visiting a new location.