Nikolai Kormashov (1929-2012), one of the leading figures of the 1960s generation of painters in Estonia. Nikolai Kormashov belongs to the so-called “Sixties Generation” in Estonia art, whose task it became to break free of the dogma of Stalinist Socialist Realism.
However for Kormashov, thematic paintings were not just commissioned art. And in the middle of the decade, the artist created his most powerful and distinctive works in this genre. Born in Russia’s Vladimir oblast, Nikolai Kormashov graduated from the Ivanovo Art School in 1951 and thereafter came to study at the State Art Institute of the Estonian S.S.R. Unlike many other art students who came to study in Tallinn from the various regions of the Soviet Union, he settled in Estonia and became one of the most respected painters of the 1960s.
Kormashov’s work from the Sixties is primarily associated with the Severe Style – the main current of “Soviet Modernism.” Since, Old Russian icon art started to increasingly influence the artist’s work starting in the middle of the decade, the national characteristics of his paintings were amplified. Thus, in the case of his thematic compositions, one can also speak of era-related labour motifs as well the unexpectedness of icon aesthetics, but also about their enchanting synthesis. Nikolai Kormashov’s oeuvre, which in addition to museums in Estonia,France, Russia, USA, is represented in collections elsewhere, and his productive participation in cultural life brought him recognition in both the 1980s, when he was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the Estonian S.S.R., and in 1999, when he was awarded the Order of the White Star, 4th class of the Republic of Estonia.