– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

Interest in Russian plein air painting is on the rise in America, but even in Russia, it’s still getting its feet under itself. Some of its practitioners are trying to give the plein air movement momentum in Russia, similar to how PleinAir magazine did so in the United States.

Lead Image: “Sea Vista,” by Bato Duorzhapov

Russian plein air painter Daniil Belov reports that a recent exhibition gathered approximately 120 paintings from about 80 artists into a show dedicated to nurturing a plein air community in Russia. Dubbed “Open Lesson,” the show opened on April 20 and is on view through May 10 in Moscow.

“Spring Has Come,” by Daniil Belov
“Spring Has Come,” by Daniil Belov

“It’s an exhibition that wouldn’t be possible if the Internet hadn’t changed the art world,” says Belov. “The Russian art community is very slightly connected. Artists know each other in groups, but they don’t have an idea of what is going outside the group, even within a city. However, when the age of the Internet had come, plein air artists started forming their own self-organized communities and events. Instead of going through a traditional exhibition system, viewers now often find artists through the Web.”

“Open Lesson” was organized by Artnow, an “Internet art shop” in Russia, with the help of an art union called New Wanderers. They received more than 1,000 submissions.

“Alexandrovsky Garden, Winter Evening,” by Vladimir Lapovok
“Alexandrovsky Garden, Winter Evening,” by Vladimir Lapovok

A highlight of the show was a master class given by Bato Dugarzhapov, a landscape painter revered within this group of Russian artists, and greatly admired among in-the-know plein air painters in America. “He astonished the viewers by painting a landscape in front of us, using no references, only imagination,” says Belov. “Bato had opened his painter’s case, placed a canvas, and started to paint a landscape study right amidst the exhibition hall, without any material or even a photo. At the start he had painted several stripes, then with a big bristle brush he had scooped several paints and swiftly painted a wide stripe in the top part of the canvas to form a sky. Then he scooped more paint and with the same speed had drawn another stripe. Than he started to fly chaotically with his brush around the canvas, creating a lake, a road, a tree … Then, disappointed with them, he removed them from the face of Earth, adding other elements of a landscape, painting it almost from a scratch, and in an hour, a landscape was ready. And gifted to a happy viewer — one of my students!”

“Laspi,” by Bato Dugorzhapov
“Laspi,” by Bato Dugorzhapov

The excitement generated by the exhibition promises to push the plein air movement in Russia further. Read Belov’s blog post about the exhibition here.


  1. I know quite a few really good painters in Russia and Ukraine. Here are a couple of my favorites: Vitaly Makarov, Alexander Shevelev, Juliya Zhukova, and Slava Korolenkov, among many others. They can be found on Facebook.

  2. Conor, maybe it will be interesting for you also to check Denis Sarazhin, Alexey Timoshenko, Daniil Timoshenko, Galina Gomzina, Alexey Begak, Vsevolod Romankov, Alexey Shalaev, Vasily Hudyakov (http://khudyakovart.jimdo.com/), Sergey Kurbatov (http://www.skurbatov.com/), – just few of the names, actually there are really many plein air painters in Russia. Also take in pleasure in checking the catalogue from the exhibition in my post, 80 new names.


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