Nicolai Fechin

Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin was a Russian-American contemporary Impressionist painter known for his portraits and American Indian paintings. Born in Kazan, Russia in 1881, Fechin learned early on the use of a carving knife from his father’s trade as a wood carver and guilder. At thirteen, he attended the Art School of Kazan, a branch of the Imperial Academy of Art in Saint-Petersburg and graduated with the highest grade possible, consequently receiving a scholarship to travel Europe. Through the next few years, he received many awards for his paintings and taught at Kazan for ten years before emigrating to New York in 1921. After some time in New York, Fechin developed tuberculosis and decided to relocate to a warmer climate in New Mexico with his wife in 1927. It was there that he felt a connection to the Native Americans and created some of his best works.

Nicolai Fechin’s bold style made his abstract paintings stand out from other artists of his time. He began his paintings in an abstract manner but would gradually gain focus on the features he deemed important, like the face, hands and features, leaving the background and other areas obscure. He also used any and all mediums that were available to him, such as saliva or cottage cheese to create the effect he craved. It was this exceptional adaptability that made his work unique among the competition. In 1933, Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin divorced his wife and traveled around until eventually settling in Santa Monica, CA teaching, painting and entertaining until his death in 1955.

"Art, like the whole of life, submits to the eternal law of change, and any attempts to stop it at one particular level are like vain efforts to stop time itself." - Nicolai Fechin