Oskar Rabin

(b. 1928)

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(1928– )

Russian painter, one of the leading figures of Unofficial art in the Soviet Union. He was born in Moscow and trained at the Riga Academy, 1944–7. For many years he worked as a railway porter and engine driver in Moscow, painting in his spare time, but from 1967 he was a full-time artist. His subjects were often taken from the railway and also included fantastic cityscapes juxtaposed with incongruous objects such as a samovar, a torn vodka label, or even a Titian nude. Characteristically he painted in thick impasto, mainly with a palette knife and generally in subdued ochre and umber tones. Although his work did not conform to the ideals of the officially approved Socialist Realism, he was allowed to exhibit abroad, and he was the only Unofficial artist included in the exhibition of contemporary Soviet art held at the Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 1964. In the following year he had a one-man exhibition at the same gallery. Rabin left Russia in 1978 and settled in Paris. His wife, Valentina (1924– ), is a painter, as was her brother, Lev Kropivnitsky (1922–79), who spent nine years in labour camps.

Subjects: Art.

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