Biography of K. Sokolov


Biographical details

1930 Kirill Sokolov born 27th September in Moscow to an aristocratic, language teacher mother (Irina Konstantinovna Kirshbaum 1906-1981) and architect father (Konstantin Mikhailovich Sokolov 1900-1972). Soon after they moved to a flat in a house designed by his father off the Maroseika on the corner of Petroverigskii pereulok.

1941 Evacuated to Saratov with mother and nanny, later to be joined by grandmother from siege of Leningrad.

1942 Admitted to the Special School for Art, Moscow (MSKhSH) after return from evacuation.

1945 Kirill's father arrested and sent to the camps for five years. He was allowed to return as builder’s foreman in Karavaevo in 1950, but was not rehabilitated until after Stalin's death in 1953, after which he was appointed Chief Architect of Kostroma. Kirill witnessed his father's arrest and said that it taught him once and for all, to know fear. A family from the NKVD moved into the now communal flat.

1949 Graduated from the MSKhSH.

1950 Enrolled at the Surikov Institute, Moscow, Faculty of Graphic Art where he followed the programme of the Institute and became particularly interested in engraving. At the same time he was privately studying and exploring Picasso’s work, Abstract Expressionism and 20th Century Russian Avant-garde.

1952 Married Ariadna Avseenko (divorced in1963).

1957 Graduated from the Surikov Institute. At the International Festival Exhibition in Moscow, Kirill exhibited a series of linocuts illustrating Elsa Triolet’s novels.

1958 Birth of son Fedor (later adopted by Ariadna’s second husband as Dubrovin).

1960 Met Avril Pyman, a British research student who was in Russia on a British Council Scholarship to study Alexander Blok.

1963 Married Avril Pyman “Dicky”.

1964 Exhibited at the Literature Museum, Moscow a series of lino cuts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

1965 Birth of daughter Irina.

1964-74 Illustrated some 50 books, mainly by contemporary authors, including Iurii Trifonov, Bulat Okudzhave, and Fazil Iskander although his work on this author was intended for an English translation which was never published. Painted constantly but did not show or sell his work as a painter.

1974 Left Russia to live in England.

1975 onwards began to work on sculpture and oil painting in North Northumberland.  

1976 Became co-editor of the International Art Journal “Leonardo” where he later published a series of pieces on XX century Russian art. First exhibition in England at the Gulbenkian Gallery at the “People’s Theatre”, Newcastle upon Tyne: paintings and sculpture.

1977 Continued to exhibit at various venues in Great Britain, see “Exhibitions”.

1978 Designed catalogue “Russian Graphic Art 18th - 20th Centuries” contributing images and texts. The exhibition originated at the Hatton Gallery Newcastle University under the aegis of Dr John Milner and subsequently went on tour in 1979.

1979 First one-man exhibition in London at the Senate House, London University: oil paintings, prints and sculptures.

1980 During exhibitions of portraits at Dunelm house, Durham University and of paintings at the Hellmann Gallery, West Germany, a fire at his house in Berwick upon-Tweed devastated almost all his life’s work and destroyed over four hundred pictures. In the same year, he became a member of the Society of Fine Art Graphic Artists. He begins work on “House without a Master” series.

1981 Produces “The life of Christ. Miracles” series of silkscreen prints.

1983 Travels in Northern Italy and produced a series of silkscreens of Florence and Venice.
From 1985 exhibits with the “Charlotte Press”, later “Northern Print” group, at Washington Arts Centre, Tyne and Wear and elsewhere in North of England and Scotland. Solo Exhibition of Prints and Collages at the Bishopsgate Foundation, “London 1984”. Contributes to a group exhibition at the Edinburgh Festival. Work included in the publication to commemorate 10 years of Northern Printmakers: and, so, gradually, the isolation of his first years as a Russian artist in England begins to wear off.

1986 A new passions for Greece and Greek culture results in a series of prints and collages of Greece and Mount Athos exhibited at Grey’s Gallery, Gosforth Newcastle upon-Tyne, and in

1987 an exhibition on the same theme in the Bishopsgate Foundation, London.

1988 The “torrent” of works in various techniques to Goethe’s Faust finds a responsive audience at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London, where they are staging a centenary production of both parts of the play, and in

1989 at the Faust Society and Museum in Knittlingen, West Germany, supposedly the birth place of the legendary hero. On his way home, Kirill visits Dachau, the subject of the new silkscreen series, and produces watercolours and sketches of German towns and museums.

1990 Exhibition of graphic works at the Academy of Arts, Riga, Latvia. First return to USSR since 1974. After this he came back annually to his native land.

1992 An important exhibition of graphic art takes place at the House of the Artist, Krymskaya Naberezhnaya, Moscow. “X Year’s Work”, and goes on to the State Art Gallery, Perm, Russia.
From 1993 he exhibits regularly in Russia and England at various venues, see “Exhibitions”.

1988 Diagnosed with lung cancer and undergoes a pneumoectomy of the left lung at Newcastle Freeman Hospital. At chemotherapy sessions before the operation in hospital and afterward worked on the series of drawings (later flat-bed prints) “Case History”.     

1999 An exhibition at Manchester Cathedral of new prints in the Faust series and of sculpture serves to dissipate the gloom of the operation as does a tour of places of artistic interest in France.

2002-to his death in 2004 he continues to exhibit in Russia and England and to experiment enthusiastically at studio in Goswick.

2004 Kirill Sokolov died in Wansbeck Hospital, Ashington on the 22nd May. At his own request, his ashes were   buried next to his mother and grandmother at Peredelkino near Moscow in June of the same year.