Oscar Rabin Flight into Egypt

As a nonconformist artist creating work in opposition to official government policies, Rabin used art to reveal the extent of censorship in everyday Soviet life and to make an ironic commentary on the artificiality of state-approved cultural expression.

Orphaned at the age of four, he was adopted by Russian painter Evgeny Kropivnitsky, who was his first teacher and who gave him an understanding of the poetics of early avant-garde art. Rabin studied at the Surikov Institute of Arts until he was expelled for "fomalism" in 1949.

Between 1950 and 1964, he lived with his wife, artist Valentina Kropivnitskaya, in Lianozovo near Moscow. He began to participate in Moscow exhibitions in 1957, including the International Exhibition of Young Artists of that year. In the 1960's, a group of young artists, poets, and writers gathered around Kropivnitsky and Rabin which came to be known as the Lianozovo Group.

At this time, Rabin began to insinuate everyday objects into his paintings, creating a dual feeling of intimacy and remoteness. This device helped him create his own semiotics, which allowed the apparent reality of his compositions to take on symbolic meaning.

His subdued, almost drab colors, expressive surfaces, and use of outline to flatten objects while reinforcing emotional intensity were elements that contradicted accepted style. With its emphasis on the dramatic contrasts in Russian life, Rabin's work marked the originating point for nonconformist art. Since 1965, he has regularly exhibited abroad.

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