Charchoune Serge (1888-1975)
Serge Charchoune was born in 1888 in Bougourouslan, Russian, a small town west of the Ural mountains where he spent his childhood. Son of a fabric trader, he was an average student. Charchoune discovers painting during the strikes that shatter Russia in 1905. He wants to study art but does not pass his entry exam to the Fine Arts School of Kazan. He leaves for Moscow in 1909, he works in different Academies, meets Larionov and Gontcharova, he discovers Monet and the Impressionists. Not wanting to do his military service, Serge Charchoune escapes to Berlin and then to Paris in 1912. He frequents the Palette Academy where he is influenced by Le Fauconnier who becomes his teacher. He meets Metzinger, who is enthusiastic by fauvism and cubism. Charchoune participates in the Salon des Independents in 1913. During the war and until 1920, the artist lives in Spain where his first solo exhibitions are held, in Barcelona in 1916 and 1917. It is in Spain that he makes pictorial discoveries that will have great importance in his art (the azureros, the arabesques, etc.). It is this period that defines his ornamental cubism with canvas covered with ideograms. The artist meets Francis Picabia and comes into contact with the Dada movement that will have a great influence on his writings. On returning to Paris in 1920 he exhibits for the first time and participates with the Dada group; he collaborates with the revue 391 and publishes ‘Foule immobile’ in 1921. Charchoune goes to Berlin from 1922-1923 where he meets Maiakovski, Isadora Duncan and participates in some group exhibitions (Der Sturm, Zaria, etc.) collaborating with some revues. Coming back to France, he meets Ozenfant and turns towards purism; his rigorous compositions blend into the juxtaposition of his touches. The artist will spend a decade in isolation and becomes greatly discouraged in the 1930’s. He regains his confidence when he gets a studio in 1940 and sells some of his paintings. Water and music become sources of inspiration that lead him toward abstraction; he uses less color, almost monochrome, leaning towards white, the color Charchoune considers as ‘the absolute color’. The artist now figures regularly in the great Parisian Salons. From now on numerous solo exhibitions of his work are organized in France and abroad. Abstract artist, he succeeded in suggesting the imperceptible and the inexpressible. A posthumous homage was attributed to him in 1976 at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. His art engages the spectator. A painter who often goes against the trend of painting austere, sober and well-balanced works. Serge Charchoune died in Villeneuve-Saint-George in 1975. He was laid to rest in the Russian cemetery of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois.