Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko

Warrior. Vasily Konovalenko


Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko is a Soviet sculptor, jeweler, creator of a series of unique sculptural miniatures in the genre of stone-cutting and jewelry art.

Member of the Union of Artists of the USSR. The work of Vasily Konovalenko is distinguished by subtle psychologism and plastic expressiveness. The artist created an extensive gallery of folk types, characters, captured their spirituality.

Each stone is beautiful in its own way, but the extraordinary beauty of products made of pure rock crystal has long been considered a symbol of purity of thoughts, sincerity and modesty. Rock crystal is a hard mineral with many properties, including healing, energetic and even magical.

Vasily Konovalenko. Bosom Pals 1982, height 32 cm.
Bosom Pals 1982, height 32 cm.

Biography of Vasily Konovalenko

Vasily Konovalenko was born in 1929 all over Petrovka, Zaporozhye region, Ukraine. Childhood was spent in Donetsk. Since 1944 (since the age of 14) Vasily Konovalenko worked at the Donetsk National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after A. B. Solovyanenko as a prop sculptor. Initially, having entered the position of “apprentice artist-decorator”, two years later he received the position of “head of the props shop”. In parallel, he continued to study in high school.

Then he entered the School of Architecture and Art at the Faculty of Sculpture, where he received a specialized secondary education.

In 1950 he was drafted into the Red Army, served in the city of Lomonosov as a sailor of the Baltic Fleet. During his service, he first saw Leningrad – and decided to stay there.

The Grandmother 1982
The Grandmother 1982

In May 1951, Vasily Konovalenko was demobilized and moved to Leningrad. On August 14, he entered the Leningrad Musical Comedy Theater as a decorator, where he worked until October 22. After leaving, he immediately goes through a competition to the Leningrad Mariinsky Theater. Works as a decorator in many performances.

While working on the ballet “The Stone Flower”, he began to independently master polychrome sculpture – a genre that was in decline at that time; he also performs his own productions in the country’s opera houses.

By 1959, the first masterpieces of stone-carving sculpture appeared, but Vasily Konovalenko was not given the opportunity to exhibit sculptural works.

Finally, in 1973 (the artist is 44 years old), the first personal exhibition of his sculptures of stone-cutting art was held. The exhibition at the Russian Museum became a sensation, and Konovalenko’s sculptures were purchased by the Gokhran of Russia as a national treasure. Konovalenko was twice awarded gold medals at VDNKh.

Konovalenko, now a recognized sculptor and stone-cutter, is invited to Moscow as the chief artist of the Ministry of Geology and is given the opportunity to create his own school-workshop “Laboratory of Small Sculptural Forms”. He moves to Moscow.

Zaporozhets. Vasily Konovalenko

The position of a lone artist has led to a clash with the authorities, threats.

In 1981 (at 52 years old) he was forced to emigrate to America, taking with him only his favorite fishing rod. Traces of the emigrant’s activities in the 1980s were erased, erased in the Soviet years in the artist’s homeland, his name was not mentioned anywhere for several years. Photos of his masterpieces were published in Soviet publications without his name.

In March 1984, a personal exhibition of Vasily Konovalenko took place at the Museum of Natural History of Denver, Colorado. The works remained in the permanent exhibition of the museum. The artist was 55 years old. The tremendous success of the exhibition, world recognition was overshadowed only by the break with the Motherland.

In 1989 Konovalenko began negotiations about an exhibition in Russia and about returning to his homeland to create a school of stone-cutting art. He is full of plans and hopes. He achieved masterly skill, created a number of masterpieces, he strove to give it to his native country.

A sudden attack interrupted his plans. Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko died on January 27, 1989 in New Windsor, New York. buried (like many other emigrants) in the Russian Orthodox cemetery in Nyack, New York, USA. The cause of death is a cerebral hemorrhage.

Works of the master

Vasily Konovalenko. The eye of the sovereign
The eye of the sovereign
Winter fishing. Vasily Konovalenko
Winter fishing
Bosom friends. Vasily Konovalenko
Bosom friends
Walruses. Vasily Konovalenko
Bathhouse. Vasily Konovalenko
Vasily Konovalenko. Behemoth, New York, 1987
Behemoth, New York, 1987
Educational program, 1960s
Educational program, 1960s
Image of Leonid Brezhnev on a topaz crystal
Image of Leonid Brezhnev on a topaz crystal
In the Sultry Afternoon. 1983
In the Sultry Afternoon. 1983
Sculptor Vasily Kovalenko, masterpieces from gems
Sculptor Vasily Kovalenko, masterpieces from gems