b. 1932, Moscow
At the age of ten, Oleg Kudryashov began his education at a Moscow art school, where he was instructed in the conservative painting styles of Soviet-era Russia. However, Kudryashov’s childhood memories outside of art school arguably had a greater impact on his later, avant-garde works much more than his fine arts training. He grew up in a communal housing complex, and remembers playing with the detritus from a factory next door: “The whole yard was littered with heaps of iron and filled with racks and gas containers, pipes and huge rusted concrete mixers that the factory manufactured. The earth was covered with thick layers of iridescent steel shavings swimming in pools of machine oil made of the entire spectrum of rainbow colors. Here we played hide-and-seek among pipes and right beside us worked the welders without paying attention to us children.” These hints of raw industrial matter resurface in his works, especially in his three-dimensional constructions. Although they appear to be composed of abstract shapes, they are in fact Kudryashov’s reflections on the built environment. As he himself has said, “My works are not abstract—I build myself a house, a home, a shelter from the elements, from everything that weighs on my soul.”
In 1959, Kudryashov had his first exhibition, along with a group of other young artists. After that, he began exhibiting frequently in both Russia and Western Europe. Feeling increasingly stifled by the conventions of Soviet art, Kudryashov and his wife Dina immigrated to London in 1974. In London, Kudryashov researched Soviet artists that had been deemed “degenerate” back home, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, and Vladimir Tatlin. In 1976, he had his first solo show at Acme Gallery in London, and has shown extensively since. Kudryashov’s work can be found in in many collections, including the Hirshhorn Museum and National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.