Petr Sulimenko was barely thirty when the first public trial addressing the mass murder of the Holocaust was held in his home town of Krasnodar. It was 1943 and Krasnodar sustained heavy war damages. Sulimenko had already graduated with a degree in art from Rostov-On-Don College in 1939. Naturally he was trained in the propagandist art of Socialist Realism and continued his career under the Ukraine Department of United Fine Art located first in Kiev, then in Samarkand and finally in Zagorsk (moving to escape the war zones). Equipped with training from the State, Sulimenko’s practice was perfected to execute realistic battle scenes with an unwavering hand.
His images of the sea are most notable and identifiable during his prolific career. Growing up near the Black Sea, Sulimenko started off not as an artist but as a sailor. His later migration led him through Europe, Asia and Africa, where he was privileged to see the sea from many vantage points. His portfolio of seascapes overflowed and established him as primarily a maritime portraitist. Though rejected from the army before pursuing art, Sulimenko retained a romantic and idealistic notion of the Navy that is evident in his paintings.
Disclosing the quotidian experience in various other cultures with his quick execution of sunlit structures, hanging clothes lines, and sometimes desolate streets, Sulimenko enlivened a visual texture outside of Soviet Russia. A series of sketches painted outside of Soviet borders beautifully and truthfully reflect cultures from Egypt, Singapore, Vietnam, Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Senegal, Guinea and other regions of the world.
Classically trained and very aware of painting’s emotive resonance, Sulimenko’s work sits at the crux of art history when painters throughout the world were processing the effects of World War II through their canvases. Considered a Russian Impressionist, Petr Sulimenko’s work aids narration of a mysterious and complex time in Russian history. His work, like other Soviet artists, continues to inform Western eyes of the reality hidden behind the Iron Curtain until the 1990s.