(…(?) 1897 – 16 August 1970)

Artist, painter-graphic,
fine art expert; professor (1929).
Director of Kharkiv Art Technical
School from 1927 till 1932.
Rector of Kharkiv Art Institute
from 1929 till 1932.

Anton M. Komashka was born in 1897 in the village called Nepokryte (nowadays Shestakovo village, Vovchansk district, Kharkiv region). His father was a rural man who had no land in his possession and was working outside of the village. Since childhood, Anton dreamt of being a painter, however it seemed impossible due to his family’s poverty.

In spring 1914 a 17-year-old Anton Komashka dared to write a letter to his famous countryman Ilia Repin. In that letter he said to the great artist about his desire “to learn art” and the fact that he could not afford to study. It is known that he enclosed his self-portrait.

In July, 1914 Komashka met I. Repin in person. This remarkable event occurred in Chuguev during the presentation of Business Yard (Dilovyi Dvir), the People’s Academy project initiated by the great maitre. Repin liked Anton and gave him recommendation for Kharkiv Art College to study there. It is interesting to note that Repin paid A. Komashka a personal grant as well.

In May, 1915 Anton Komashka had to cease his studying at college; Repin offered to move to his summer house Penaty in Kuokkala (Finland). In such quite an unexpected way A. Komashka became I. Repin’s assistant and apprentice.

In 1916 he joined the army. After studying in the relief troops, he was sent to military reporters. In summer 1917 he drew the general O. Brusylov’s portrait.

When demobilized in 1918, he continued working at Repin’s workshop. He participated in the exhibition of the Itinerant Exhibitions Association. However, when White Finnish and German troops marched into Kuokkala (April, 1918), the artist had to move to Petrograd. All his attempts to return to Penaty were in vain as the border with Finland was closed.

In 1919 he worked in art workshops at the Red Army headquarters of South-West Front line. The same year he took part in the I State exhibition of Works of Art.

In 1920 he joined the Red Army as a volunteer and became a member of All-Union Communist Party of Bolshevists. A. Komashka was in charge for the agitation campaign: he designed war leaflets, painted agitation vans, drew portraits of commanding officers and soldiers.

In 1921, when the Civil war was over, he returned to Kharkiv and took to creative and administrative work. He was the head of Kharkiv division of the Association of Red Ukraine Artists. A. Komashka actively participated in various exhibitions, including All-Ukrainian exhibition 10th Zhovten Anniversary (1927), All-Ukrainian Exhibitions of People’s Commissariat of Education of USSR (1929, 1930), the IV All-Ukrainian Art Exhibition (1931), etc.

In 1927 he was appointed Director of Kharkiv Art Technical School. Two years later, in 1929, he became the Rector of a newly-created Art Institute where he was a professor as well. The first graduates got their Diplomas signed with A. Komashka’s surname.

When in 1932 Komashka was dismissed, he moved to Moscow where he continued teaching and drawing. He participated in many exhibitions, including Anniversary exhibition of paintings dedicated to the I Horse army of 1919-1934 (1934), Autumn exhibition of Leningrad artists (1936), etc.

In 1941, when the Great Patriotic war burst out, Komashka went to the front line as a volunteer. He was sent to 11th guards army and in its ranks he began to fight with the enemy in Leningrad and reached Konigsberg at the end of the war. A series of graphic portraits of soldiers and the Red army commanding officers was created by Komashka during the war. The artist’s observations and gathered materials let him draw Portrait of a Soviet soldier (1943), On the Neman crossing. The general Chernyakhovsky (1944), etc.

Since 1950 he lived in Moscow and worked as a deputy chief designer of VDNH. He participated in the Ukrainian fine art exhibition which was dedicated to 10th anniversary of the Ukrainian people reunion in the united Soviet state (1950, Kyiv).

In 1960 he moved to Leningrad and was engaged with various creative activities.

In 1964, when being retired, the artist visited his native land, Kharkiv region where he created a series of portraits.

Anton Komashka died on 16th August 1970 in Leningrad at the age of 73.

Unfortunately, A. Komashka’s pictural legacy is almost lost. However, some of his major works are worth mentioning are The general’s O. Brusylov’s portrait (1917), Headquarters of I Horse army (1920s), A woman’s portrait (1922), 1st May (mid. 1920s), a series of portraits Strike workers at KhTP construction (1931), A collective farmer’s portrait (1933), Self-portrait (1941), Front line (1943), On the Neman crossing. The general Chernyakhovsky (1944), A woman’s portrait (1954), A worker (1965). Also he did important research titled For proletarian hegemony in spatial art: the processes of the art movement in the USSR of the rebuilt period. Ways of spatial art development in the reconstructive period (1931).