Leonov, Pavel

Background: wandered around the then S.U. at an early age.
Education: ZNYI, Extramural People’s Arts University, a correspondence course for amateurs on the basics of painting.
Profession/occupation: numerous jobs: joiner, woodcutter, ship-repairer, road-builder, sign-painter, farmer, metal-worker.
Art form/medium: painting.
Start artwork: after settling in Mekhovitsy
Relevant info: his themes are from Russian villager’s life, celebrations, dances, events.
(Solo-) exhibitions: 2000 INSITA, Bratislava, one-man show; Russische naieven in Museum De Stadshof.
References: Thumm, C., en Zander, Ch.; Erste Begegnung mit der Russischen Naive, Bonnigheim 1999.
Young, James; ‘A Fool’s Paradise’, in: Raw Vision, 28, 1999, pp. 38-43.
Outsider Art Sourcebook, (Raw Vision) 2016, p.141 / 2009, p. 105.

Pavel Leonov was born in 1920 in Orel, a town south of Moscow, not far from the Ukrainian border. Leonov left his family at age 16 to escape his father, a man he described as a “professional alcoholic.” A few years later, Leonov served in the military, hoping to rise through the ranks, only to clash with his superiors and even some of his subordinates. Trouble with army officers led to Leonov’s initial confinement in a prison camp in Georgia. Although Leonov was released after a few years of service, he found himself in and out of labor and prison camps until 1955, two years after the death of Stalin. Over the course of his confinement, Leonov learned a variety of trades, including woodcutting, ship repair, road-building, sign painting, farming and metal work. Leonov’s first attempts at painting came while in the army, when he started drawing portraits of his fellow soldiers. Unfortunately none of these works survive. Later, while working in a tractor factory, the ever-ambitious Leonov taught himself to draw from a manual. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Leonov attended Open University, where he was influenced by the significant underground artist Michail Roginsky, who was lecturing there. Soonafter, Leonov’s works appeared in several Soviet exhibitions of amateur art in Moscow. In 1988, Leonov’s works were exhibited in Paris and Laval, France. Leonov lived in the country from the mid 1970’s until his death in 2011.

Pavel Petrovitsch Leonov
1920 Orjol (Orel), Russia - 2011 Savino, Russia