25.05.1927, village of Volkovka, Chernomorsky District (now Krasnodar Region)
Painter, teacher

Zhilinsky was born in a commune that was broken up in 1929. His father, a design technician, was arrested in 1937 and shot in 1939. He had drawn since childhood and dreamt of becoming an artist, but as he was passionate about helping to rebuild the country that war had laid waste he entered a technical institute in 1944. After he arrived in Moscow, artist relatives insisted that he join the glass faculty at the Moscow Institute for the Decorative and Applied Arts, where he made stained-glass windows. From 1946 to 1951 he studied in the painting faculty at the V.I. Surikov Art Institute, and after graduating he taught in the institute’s drawing department. He studied with Nikolay Chernyshov, Pavel Korin, Semyon Chuykov and Alexey Gritsay. A major influence on him was Vladimir Favorsky.

In 1961, after a study trip to the virgin lands, Zhilinsky painted Tractor Drivers at the Novoalexandrovsky Sovkhoz. He was confirmed in the post of senior lecturer in 1962. Influenced by the art of iconography and the Italian and Flemish Renaissance, he began painting in tempera on gesso in 1964, trying to embody, using modern themes, the timeless ‘essence of the subject’. In 1964 the Tretyakov Gallery acquired Family. By the Sea, his first painting in tempera. He took part in the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 with a portrait of Favorsky and the picture Gymnasts of the USSR (acquired by the Russian Museum). In 1968 he was confirmed in the post of professor and in 1973–80 he was head of the drawing, painting and composition department at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. Solo exhibitions took place in 1974–75 in Italy (Rome, Milan, Bologna and Genoa) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam), and in 1981–83 in Sochi, Odessa, Kiev and Tallinn. He painted portraits of members of the Soviet intelligentsia: the academicians Anna and Pyotr Kapitsa (1979) and the pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1983–85). In 1985 there was a retrospective exhibition at the USSR Academy of Art. In 1987 he painted the triptych 1937, which was devoted to his father’s arrest and death. In 1993–95 he produced a cycle of formal portraits of members of the Danish royal family, and in 2005 he completed a series of portraits of 20th-century Russian composers for the House of Music. He worked on a biblical cycle in 2006–07. A retrospective exhibition was held in the Russian Museum (St Petersburg) in 2012–13.

He was an Associate Member of the USSR Academy of Art (1980), full member of the Academy in 1985, and member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Art (1997). He was a People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1987), winner of the RSFSR Repin State Prize (1985), winner of the Russian Federation State Prize (1998), and awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples (1994) and the Order ‘For Services to the Fatherland’, 4th Class (2012). F.B.

Zhilinsky