Nikolai Nikolaevich Uvarov has lived almost his entire life in Riga and is considered a Latvian artist. However, his life and work are connected with Russia and the Russian mentality no less than with Latvia. Tikhomirov is an innovative artist who has tried over 20 trends in the art of painting and developed his own original ideas and methods of work.
Nikolai Nikolaevich Uvarov liked to call himself a prince: his ancestors on the line of his father belonged to the old princely family of the Uvarovs. His grandfather and great-grandfather were priests of the Orthodox Church, and his parents worked as teachers of the Russian language: his father at school, his mother at the university. Uvarov's maternal grandfather - Samsonov Alexander Matveyevich - was a pastry chef famous throughout Uzbekistan.
Nikolai Uvarov was born and spent the first five years of his life in the Uzbek SSR, in the city of Tashkent. The artist was born on October 29, 1941. In the spring of 1946, when the son was not yet five years old, his mother went with him to her sister in post-war Riga, and Nikolai Uvarov stayed there forever. However, all his life he was drawn to his homeland, and he tried to travel to Uzbekistan at least once a year. By the way, Uvarov learned to cook his famous pilaf, which was later famous among the artist's friends and relatives, in his homeland.
Nikolai began to draw in early childhood: already at the age of five he drew cartoons of the hated Hitler. In a mixed Russian-Latvian kindergarten group, where the boy began to attend in Riga, he once made a series of illustrations for the Russian folk tale Masha and the Bear. The children and the teacher were delighted, and then the mother of the young artist enrolled her son in the drawing circle at the Riga Palace of Pioneers. A big plus was that the children were given consumables - paper, paint, and easels. It was here that Nikolai Uvarov began to comprehend the basics of professional painting. The classes were taught by the famous Latvian artist Auseklis Matisovich Baushkenieks, who gave his students the basics of classical art.
Two years later, Uvarov began to attend a more serious educational and artistic institution - the graphic studio of the Central House of Culture of Trade Unions, headed by Eduard Yurkelis, the famous master of watercolors.
And in secondary school # 26, where Nikolai studied, he drew all kinds of friendly cartoons, cartoons, "nightmares" with youthful enthusiasm. The boy studied well, read a lot: every month his mother received a new volume of the 50-volume edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, and Kolya literally absorbed information. He also loved the classics of literature, science fiction.
Education and early career
Uvarov graduated from high school in 1958 and immediately got a job: the painting skills he received during his school years turned out to be quite enough to become an artist at the Riga Porcelain Factory. Two years later, Nikolai was drafted into the ranks of the armed forces in the rocket forces, he served in Western Belarus, in the Pinsk swamps. In the unit where Uvarov served, there was a good library, and the young man re-read all the books he found there on the history of painting. He also continued to paint: both "for himself" and "for business" - he designed stands, newspapers, etc.
Demobilized in 1963, Uvarov decided to get a higher education in his chosen profession of an artist, and in particular, an illustrator of books. He dreamed of becoming a student at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute, but in the first year he could not pass the competition for 18 people for a place, and the next year the competition passed, but instead of him the daughter of a famous writer was taken to this place. During the period of preparation and unsuccessful admission, Nikolai worked as an apprentice of a designer of an art design bureau. And in 1965 he entered the first year of the Faculty of Easel Graphics at the Latvian State Academy of Arts. Uvarov remembered with great warmth and respect his mentors - Alexander Stankevich, a teacher of applied graphics; Peteris Upitis, master of book graphics; painting with Leo Svemps - all these people contributed to the formation of the personality and professionalism of the artist Nikolai Uvarov. In his free time, the student worked part-time: he drew posters, wrote slogans on banners for Latvian factories and plants.
In 1971, a young specialist with a just received diploma came to work as an artist-designer at the Technical Aesthetics Bureau of the Riga Electromechanical Plant (REZ P / O "Radiotekhnika"). And immediately went on a business trip to Moscow to the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Sokolniki to decorate the USSR pavilion.
While still at the academy, Uvarov began to understand the narrowness and limitations of the concept of "Soviet artist". He saw that a certain conveyor belt was working for the training of artisans, who in the future were required to fulfill orders according to clear rules and requirements. This approach to painting did not suit the creative personality of Nikolai Uvarov. Because of this, he quarreled with his boss and, not wanting to become an obedient and powerless "cog", left a prestigious position.
In 1971, Nikolai Nikolayevich came to work as a drawing teacher at the secondary school №37 in the city of Riga. There was more room for creativity, and the young teacher gradually developed an original method of teaching children to paint. This technique is based on the development of imagination and creative thinking. All these developments Uvarov used in his further teaching activities. However, not everything was smooth at this work: the management did not want to allocate a separate class for drawing lessons, and Uvarov had to run around the floors and offices with folders and study accessories.
Four years later, he left for Jurmala and started working there at school # 5. Here he was given a room, which he designed in accordance with his tastes and preferences, ordered transforming desks and cubic chairs, various equipment. As a result, students could independently change the architecture of the room, guided by the topic of the lesson.
After completing his school teaching career, Uvarov took up private teaching, and his lessons began to be in great demand. Many of Uvarov's students were able to enter prestigious world art universities and achieved brilliant results in the profession. The mentor taught his wards not the craft, but the philosophy of the artist's work, showed how a certain philosophical implication could be expressed through the image of any ordinary object.
In 1988, Nikolai Uvarov created the Baltic-Slavic Society, which was later transformed into the Baltic International Academy. And here all his pedagogical findings and developments came in handy, in particular - on the development of creative thinking and imagination. Since 1998, he even taught a special course on this topic at the design department at BRI - the Baltic Russian Institute.
In July 1977, Uvarov received a call from the editorial office of the Latvian newspaper Sovetskaya Molodezh and was invited to the post of chief artist. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper Anatoly Kamenev set the task: the appearance of each issue should be interesting! And Uvarov began to introduce a system of illustrations for each heading. The work was very intense, but it was worth it: the newspaper was highly appreciated in the Central Committee of the CPSU, and the editor Kamenev was invited to be promoted to Moscow. The new head of Uvarov, Andrei Vasilenok, turned out to be not so creative and not at all generous in fees.
And again Uvarov was forced to resign - this happened in 1980. A new job immediately turned up, and a new period began in the artist's biography, which he jokingly called "medical": for eight years Nikolai Nikolayevich worked at the Riga Medical Institute as a senior artist in the editorial and publishing department: he published teaching aids, brochures, books. In 1988, Uvarov was dismissed from this position and began to engage in creative activities as a "free artist".
Uvarov worked in various techniques and styles: graphics, engraving, oil, watercolor, ink, pencil, etc. The genres of the artist's work are also diverse: landscapes, among which there are a lot of images of Central Asia, sketches of urban architecture and nature, cartoons, the famous "debelins" as a kind of cartoons ridiculing negative phenomena in society.
A separate block should be highlighted the design work of Uvarov: drawings illustrating the Akkadian epic "Gilgamesh", which later came out as a separate edition; work on a cycle of illustrations for 38 chapters of the "Old Testament" (1975); illustrations for books, for example, for the children's book "The Terrible Folklore of Soviet Children" by Andrei Usachev and Eduard Uspensky, and much more.
Nikolai Uvarov's own creative find was the technique of painting in oil on sandpaper. One of the most famous of these paintings is "Dandelions".
Another experimental and innovative technique of the artist was watercolors with freshly brewed black coffee: in the last years of his life, every morning Uvarov began not with breakfast, but with writing three such watercolors.
Uvarov drew ideas and inspiration for his work not only from nature and the surrounding life, but also from literature - for example, from the works of Rabelais, Ray Bradbury and other writers.
In 1992, at the age of 51, Nikolai Uvarov got married. His wife's name is Anna, she graduated from the Riga Choreographic School, and then from GITIS named after Lunacharsky with a degree in theater criticism. And in 1995, the 54-year-old artist had a son. The boy was named Alexander.
For the last ten years of his life, Nikolai Nikolaevich suffered from vascular disease in the legs. Over time, the disease worsened so much that he could not even leave the house. The artist's students and friends became regular guests at his house. On January 20, 2019, Nikolai Uvarov passed away. Buried in Riga.