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‘… What interests me, particularly in the paintings I am doing now, is not only problems of colour and textures in themselves, although these abstract qualities are very important to me... in painting human figures I want to explore the relationship between the figures within a composition, where a new world is recreated. To me this should reveal itself mainly through the sense of the painted space, by colour relationships, the interplay of rhythms, brushstrokes and textures, which form the picture. I believe that this can really express their togetherness, their being in the same place and in the same time. Our time.’ 
Oleg Prokofiev, 1998

OLEG PROKOFIEV (1928-1998)

Oleg Prokofiev was born in Paris in 1928, the second son of the composer Serguei Prokofiev. Lina Prokofiev, his mother, who was known as Lina (her full name was Carolina Codina y Llubera), was born in Spain and grew up in the United States. She met the composer after he played at Carnegie Hall in 1918, and returned to Europe with him. In 1935, the family returned to Moscow, where Sergei Prokofiev was first celebrated and later persecuted by the Soviet authorities.

During World War II, the couple became estranged, and Oleg and his older brother, Sviatoslav, spent most of their time with their mother in Moscow. As a foreigner, she was regarded as a security risk, particularly since she continued to correspond with her mother in Nazi-occupied Paris, and maintained contact with Western friends, particularly Americans, despite her husband's warnings that she be more cautious.

In 1948 she was arrested, charged with espionage and sent to a prison camp, where she remained until 1957, four years after the composer's death.


Left to right : father Serguei Prokofiev, brother Sviatoslav,

Oleg and mother Lina

Oleg Prokofiev studied art at the Moscow School of Art from 1944 to 1947. On completing his studies, Prokofiev worked in the studio of the painter Robert Falk, leaving in 1952 to work for the Institute of Art History in Moscow. There he studied and published his writing, specialising in the ancient arts of India and South-East Asia. But because he was attracted to avant-garde techniques, his work was rarely exhibited in Moscow.

After a first, but unsuccessful marriage out of which was born his first son, Oleg met and married a young British art historian, Camilla Gray. The publication of her ground breaking study of Russian avant-garde ‘Great Experiment: Russian Art, 1863-1922’ infuriated Soviet officials and Camilla and Oleg were not allowed to see each other for six years. Tragically, two years after they were eventually allowed to marry, Camilla died after a short illness. Allowed by the Soviet authorities to bring their daughter Anastasia to England, Oleg settled first in Leeds, where he was awarded a fellowship in the Fine Arts Department, and where he met his third wife Frances. He found a new family and fresh inspiration.

He turned to sculpture. The ‘organic constructivism’ of his graceful sculptural compositions is clearly reminiscent of the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s. Oleg’s late paintings are also strikingly atmospheric. They astonish both in their freedom of expression and their symbolic intensity whilst maintaining a strong sense of continuity within the artistic tradition of the 20th century.

Oleg made his name as an artist, exhibiting his wood sculptures and paintings in a number of countries, and his style was constantly evolving as a response to the new shapes and lights he discovered in journeys to America, Africa and India.


Some of his poems were also published. He also dedicated a large part of his life to the promotion of his father’s life and work, appearing on television and radio and maintaining a huge correspondence with artists, musicologists and performers involved in working on Prokofiev and Soviet music.


He died in 1998 while vacationing on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. He was 69.

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