Vera Orekhova: biography, creativity, career, personal life


Verochka Orekhova was born in the Black Sea city of Odessa on June 19, 1907. Her father Andrei Ksenofontovich Orekhov was originally from Murom, where his ancestors were famous icon painters, graduated cum laude from Kazan University, and was fluent in six foreign languages. Vera’s mother is black-haired beauty Maria Panayoti, who came to Odessa from Greece together with her parents: a merchant father from Athens and an Italian mother.

Vera’s parents married in 1905, in 1906 they had a daughter Elena, in 1907 — Vera, and later — sons Vladimir and Georges.

Maria Vasilyevna was engaged in farming and raising children, and Andrey Ksenofontovich worked, and by duty of service was forced move from place to place. So in 1910, the family ended up in the Baltic States, and in 1914 — in Petrograd, where little Vera went to study in the gymnasium. In 1918, the Orekhovs moved to Moscow, where they remained permanently. All four children began to attend the gymnasium on Znamenka Street.

Beginning of professional activity

Vera from childhood perfectly painted. After graduating from the gymnasium in 1924, she decided to get a professional education and went to study at the technical school of the artisanal industry, where her teachers were great Apollinarius Mikhailovich Vasnetsov and Dmitry Anfimovich Shcherbinovsky. And two years later, Vera Orekhova entered the so-called VKHUTEMAS (VKHUTEIN) — Higher Art and Technical Workshops (Higher Art and Technical Institute), the Theatre Department of the Faculty painting. The teaching staff was outstanding: painting was conducted by Pyotr Petrovich Konchalovsky, theatre art by Isaac Moiseevich Rabinovich, theatre history and directing by Vasily Sakhnovsky. And Vera Orekhova’s practice took place in the Moscow Art Theatre, which even entered the school studio as an actress, but then decided to devote herself to painting.

The student Orekhova was a cheerful and cheerful girl, the soul of the youth company. She even for a while was expelled from the university, but teachers defended the talented and extraordinary artist. In 1930, Vera Orekhova graduated from VKHUTEMAS, and together with her fellow graduates got a job in the design office of the Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation. The Bureau was engaged in organizing and decorating popular mass events: parades, marches, carnivals, fairs and holidays. The work was much like, however, and enthusiasm among young artists.

In 1931, Orekhova joined the AKHR (Association of Artists of Russia), and in 1932 she joined the MOSSH (Moscow Union of Soviet Artists), in which she worked for many years.

Personal life and work

In the early 30s, Vera Orekhova met her future husband — artist Valerian Turetsky. They married on January 1, 1931 — right on New Year’s Eve. Three years later, on July 2, 1934-the couple had a daughter, Marina, who also became a later artist. Vera Andreevna combined motherhood with creative activity, raising her daughter spouses was helped by the nanny Frosya.

An important milestone of the creative biography of Vera Orekhova was the work since 1937 at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in as a draftsman. And in the summer months, the artist together with “a group of colleagues in the shop” went to work in Crimea, “to write in plein air”; at the same time, the husband Valerian Turkish preferred to write etudes in the Volga summer, and his wife released together with daughter and nanny Frosei on the Black Sea to the Sudak. Vera Andreevna loved this place with the whole soul — among its landscapes most are Crimean.


hardships of the war years

When the Great Patriotic War began, Vera Andreevna with her daughter and nanny were in the Crimea. Urgently returned to Moscow, where there were already bombs. They spent several nights on the subway while the husband was on duty on the roofs of houses and extinguished firebombs. In July of 1941, after sending his wife, daughter and nanny to evacuate in Tashkent, Valerian Grigoryevich Turetsky went to the front as a volunteer. And on April 13, 1942, he was killed in fighting near the town of Vyazma, Smolensk Oblast.

Vera Andreevna, like many thousands of women of the time, received a “funeral”. By then, living in Tashkent, the artist had suffered disease and hunger. Nanny Frosya got to work as a truck chauffeur, and helped Vera and Marina than she could. Vera Orekhova later found work as a stage designer at the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. Here it was necessary to paint with a brush of two meters long, covering images of a canvas measuring 600 square meters.

After receiving news of her husband’s death, Vera decided to return to Moscow. Arriving at the end of 1943, she found that there was nowhere to live: some general had settled into the apartment, her husband’s workshop was busy too, all things and paintings were gone. For a few months the artist lived with her daughter at friends, and then they were given a room in a communal room. Then they were moved several times in other apartments, and only in 1964 mother and daughter finally moved to their own apartment in house No. 5 on Maslovka Street.

After returning from the evacuation, Vera lost not only belongings and apartments, but also work. To somehow feed, she began to work as a dressmaker: sewed clothes for wives and children of familiar artists. The artist was going through the strongest creative crisis — she couldn’t write her kind and bright paintings.

Post-war years

Since 1946, Vera Orekhova’s trips to Crimea resumed: at first she was rewarded with a trip for design of the exhibition at the Aviation Institute; then, in 1947, she received an order through the Union of Artists to restore the interiors of the House of Creativity of Konstantin Korovin in the city of Gurzuf. And then Orekhova got a job at the All-Union Pioneer Camp “Artek”, where she taught children to paint, decorated all sorts of stands, festivals of pioneer bonfires, etc. Gradually the artist started again to write your paintings – Crimean landscapes.

In the early 1950s Orekhova again appeared at the All-Union Exhibition — now VDNKh. Here she worked as chief artist of the “House of Culture” pavilion. And in the autumn of 1954 she presented several of her Crimean works to the Council of the Graphic Art Works at the MOSH (Moscow Union of Artists). Her watercolors were approved and the artist was invited to work in the shop of unique graphics. Here Orekhova painted new watercolors, and in parallel studied the art of the stamp. At the same time she became one of the organizers of the artists’ bus trips around Moscow for the purpose of painting landscapes, and she herself created many wonderful watercolor sketches of Moscow “from the bus window”. Such creative trips continued until 1989.

In 1964, Vera Orekhova embarked on a cruise on the ship “Estonia” around the Mediterranean countries. According to the results of impressions of the trip there were paintings “Naples”, “Istanbul”, “Africa” and others. The style of the artist has changed: the paintings have become more saturated with light and space.

Working in MOSH and going out in summer for plein air, Vera Orekhova created a large number of light and soulful paintings. The main genres of her work were landscape, still life and portrait. Her works are very harmonious in color, proportions, sometimes it seems that flowers and fruits on her still lifes exude aroma. Vera Orekhova’s paintings sold very well, and in order to increase the demand for them, the artist wrote in different formats: horizontal, vertical, square — who liked and needed in conditions of a particular interior.

Last years of life

In 1967, Vera Andreevna retired, but it did not affect her creative activity: it continued to work as before. By the way, she had to work in very modest conditions: most of her paintings were painted at night in the kitchen. It was not until 1972 that the Union of Artists provided Norekhova with its own small workshop measuring only 10 square meters.

Many of Orekhova’s works have been exhibited in various vernissages and exhibitions. But the first solo exhibition of the artist was organized only in 1986, when she was already under eighty. The exhibition was held at the House of Literature. Representatives of the Tretyakov Gallery present there wanted to conclude a contract to buy Orekhova’s works, but she said, “Late…”, and refused. Today, her works are scattered across private collections and various museums in Russian cities.

Vera Orekhova sought to live to be 100 years old. She lived with her daughter Marina, also an artist. Together they attended various exhibitions and events. Until the last day, Vera Andreevna painted, even being no longer able to get out of bed. The artist fulfilled her goal — she died nine days after her 100th birthday, on June 28, 2007. Her ashes rest in the Vagankovsky Cemetery. In 2018, the ashes of her daughter Marina Turkish were buried nearby.

Marina Valerianovna Turkish paid tribute to her parents — published wonderful biographical books “The Way to Myself. Book about Mom” (2014), “Dad, Mom, I” (2009), “V.Turkish. Every human being is inrepeatable. The Tale of the Father” (2013).

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