Kronid Gogolev at work, 1987Semyon Maisterman/TASS
Kronid Gogolev, whose first name is of Greek origin, was born near Novgorod in 1926 into the family of a former priest.
When WWII broke out, aged 16, he volunteered for the front, where he remained for the entire conflict, receiving a Victory medal for his exploits.
After demobilization, Kronid decided to become an artist. Having graduated in the 1950s from the Leningrad School of Art and Graphics, he went to work as a teacher at an art school in the northern republic of Karelia.
Gogolev recalled that he “felt a certain ceiling” in the art of painting. It was in northern Karelia, a land of coniferous forests, wooden architecture and ancient carved churches, that, in his own words, he first “came into contact with wood” and “knew no peace for several decades.”
The artist’s favorite material was linden. He carved his works from solid planks, with no gluing or other composite techniques.
His daughter Maria recalled that Kronid spent most of his time in his workshop, where he received many visitors. Some admirers made the long trip north just to catch sight of the master craftsman at work.
The subject of Gogolev’s canvases was Karelia’s stunning nature, primarily forests and lakes, as well as the local way of life and traditions. In addition, he carved religious motifs, one of his most famous works being The Last Supper.
Personal exhibitions of Gogolev’s work were held in both Moscow and the Karelian town of Sortavala, where the artist lived and enjoyed near celebrity status. The Karelian media outlet Respublika included Gogolev in its Top 100 list of Karelian symbols.
Back in the 1980s, the local authorities allocated a building to house his collection. Today, the Kronid Gogolev Museum is a must-visit for tourists to Sortavala.
Even Vladimir Putin came here, and was presented with one of Gogolev’s works from the artist himself.
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