HE BEGINS LOOKING AT THE EMPTY CANVAS – Nicolai Fechin, the man who painted with whatever he could, including his hands

NICOLAI FECHIN 1/3 – He is a Russian-American painter known for his portraits and works featuring Native Americans. He was born in Kazan (Russia). After graduating at the Imperial Academy of Arts and traveling Europe, he returned to Kazan, where he taught and painted. He was infected with tuberculosis and with his family settled in Taos, New Mexico, for a drier climate, where he became fascinated by Native Americans. http://www.taosartmuseum.org/

NICOLAI FECHIN 2/3 – In 1913, he married Alexandra Belkovitch (the daughter of the director of the Kazan School of Art). http://www.fechin.com/ During the Russian famine he was rescued by the American Relief Administration. He emigrated with his family to the United States in 1923. There he became well known for his powerful portraits, which observers said seemed to radiate from the eyes of the subject. Masterful with a palette knife (with extraordinary color usage), he used whatever he could, including his hands, to achieve the effect, he was looking for.

NICOLAI FECHIN 3/3 – For him was necessary to exercise the hand and the eye the same way, as a musician must exercise every day his hearing and his hands. In 1927, he became embroiled in a destructive divorce. It caused his departure from Taos and he moved to the Hollywood Hills. He also began traveling extensively, visiting Bali, Java, Mexico and Japan. It was the technique and the approach, which made his portraits more than the equal of anyone else’s. In 1955, he died in Santa Monica (where was buried), but in 1976 his daughter took his remains back to Russia for reinterment in Kazan.

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