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Final years: A Flowering of Painting 1994-1998

This English landscape also attracts me, its soft lyricism, the poetry of trees, lawns, clouds, yes, the sky here with its ever changing and sometimes amazing clouds is in itself a great inspiration for me’. Oleg Prokofiev interviewed by Valentina Polukhina, Introduction of The Scent of Absence, 1995

Although Prokofiev had continued his painting practise all through the years when his production of sculpture was at its most prolific, it was not until 1994-5 that he concentrated totally upon painting again. Almost 100 paintings appeared during 1994-1995 alone following a variety of impulses and influences ranging from Poussin to Hodgkins. Acrylic paint replaced oils and paper and canvas board replaced canvas on stretchers. The paintings maintained both abstract and figurative elements until in 1996 a more bold figuration took over entirely with a series of group and portrait scenes in roughly handled paint and using vivid and unusual colours. Increased focus on family dynamics or the links and tensions between groups of musicians form the main subjects and an increasingly expressionistic use of colour and psychological insight are found in the paintings up to his death.


Some of Prokofiev's very last paintings were of scenes and people at the beaches of St Ives in Cornwall. Prokofiev’s initial connection to Cornwall linked back to the Gray’s Helen Sutherland art collection. Bright with light, these paintings exhibit a playfulness and mnemonic quality. The colours are euphoric, fiercely atmospheric and wistful.

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