In Dramatic Still Lifes, A Contemporary Painter Channels the Old Masters

The Belarusian artist Andrei Zadorine paints wiry, active children in moments of repose. Inspired by American artist Andrew Wyeth’s somber palette and social realist sensibility, Zadorine sets his young subjects within shadowy domestic spaces washed in bursts of sunlight. By accenting his figures and objects that surround them with dramatic light and shadow, the painter elevates the quieter moments of smalltown life, offering a glimpse into his subjects’ musings and daydreams. 

Like an Old Master, Zadorine populates the domestic scenes with deftly modeled details that recall traditional still life painting. While features like velcro straps on a boy’s shoes situate the paintings within a contemporary context, there is a timeless quality to the everyday trappings that trim his subjects. Convincingly realistic and bathed in golden light, kerosene lamps, small dollhouses, and gleaming apples sit close to the figures but are never touched—like whimsical, symbolic manifestations of play and pleasure.  


In In an Old House (2015), Zadorine applies Rembrandt and Caravaggio’s storied technique of chiaroscuro to the canvas: light bounces off of surfaces at interesting angles and casts a warm glow over the scene. A young woman rests her head on a table, surrounded by an assortment of lamps and toys that seem to sprout from her head.  Similarly, in Dreamer (2015), a solitary boy sprawls languidly across a kitchen table, staring through a small toy house into space.The gaze—whether direct or distracted—is the focus of each painting. 


Les Pommes (2015) also depicts a wooden table—this time as a support for a young girl, a stack of books, and eight apples. One could speculate that the smattering of fruit is a visual metaphor for loss of innocence and sexual desire , considering apples’ biblical connotation. Or it could be a simple allusion to everyday life and a moment of respite, reminiscent of a Cezanne still life.

In Le Chien dAndrei / Andres Dog (2015), the main character, a young boy no older than age six, leans against the wall wearing a wrinkled shirt and similarly rumpled pair of shorts, alluding to a day filled with work or rowdy play. Natural light enters the room and cuts across the boy’s body, illuminating ripples in his clothing and the fur of his small pet dog, also at rest. Both look as if they might be dreaming—taking a moment to let their minds wander away from the day’s routine.


Anna Furman



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