An unsung London pleasure – steadily becoming an annual event – is an exhibition from the Ukrainian artist Dmytro Dobrovolsky. In accessible paintings which celebrate the minutiae of landscapes, Dobrovolsky – a distinctive presence at his shows with his mop-top hair, stripy t-shirts and laconic manner – gives us landscapes from Estonia, quaysides from Lerici and Kenwood House in bloom. Though born in Ukraine and trained at the Kiev Academy of Arts – majoring in murals – he’s now a resident of Tallinn, whose medieval architecture features in several of his works, along with scenes from Italy and the UK, where he’s been an avid chronicler of Holland Park in its different moods (his show before last was at the Ice House there, and it’s clear the park has struck a chord with him.)
Few would claim that Dobrovolsky’s work was especially innovative, though one suspects breaking new ground isn’t of particular interest to him anyway: his talent is to build on the work of artists that inspire him: the influence of Van Gogh and Monet is clear. At his last exhibition there was a semi-homage to the latter, in his own ebullient painting of Monet’s lily pond at Giverny, while a study of an Italian port echoed the midnight brilliance of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’. Whether this is by design or accident is in question: Dobrovolsky has been clear about the unpredictable nature of colour design in his paintings: sure of what he wants, he finds, on picking up the brush and palette, that another colour scheme emerges altogether. What’s important is being open to these discoveries, he says, and being willing to improvise.
Though certain of his paintings may be too ‘pretty’ for some tastes, his art at its best is a small delight: in his pictures of gardens you can see the shadows and the depths, and almost smell the wet earth; there’s a pleasure in the subtleties of colour and an appreciation of the mystery of these things that takes you back to childhood. One relative who came into possession of a couple of his pieces hung them in her conservatory: ‘I can sit and stare at them for hours,’ she said. Give yourself the chance to do the same, when this Anglophile and approachable artist is back in town again.
Dmytro Dobrovolsky’s 20th Anniversary Exhibition ran from 13 to 18 June at the Framer’s Gallery, Windmill St.