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6 Sep, 2007 09:28

Zverev - an artist who knew how to draw a smile

An exhibition of painter Anatoly Zverev's works has opened in Moscow. The artist was one of the leading personalities in the so-called Moscow ‘underground art school’. Now his works are open to the public in a Moscow gallery.

For Anatoly Zverev drawing a portrait was always a performance.

Working and speaking with the model one second, while in the next he would be distracted – those who knew him said it was as if he travelled to another dimension. It took him just a few minutes to create a portrait, but this was long enough for him to grasp the model's appearance and mood.

Each time the work was completed, Anatoly Zverev asked the model to smile – only after that would he sign the finished painting.

“After all, my signature is worth something,” the artist used to say, but he preferred to see his works decorating the houses of his models, not museums.

“When Zverev was 25, the portraits he drew resembled the works of Miró and Picasso – he was a person of high cultural intelligence,” Natalya Ryurikova, gallerist, recalls.

Anatoly Zverev's face can be seen in several self-portraits, which he didn't try to glamorise. The last one was created three years before his death. His unimpressive appearance belied a talent of the highest order, best described by contemporary artist Robert Falk who said “Each dab of his brush is a treasure. Artists like him are born once a century”.