The Inner Hallucinatory World of Foma Jaremtschuk.

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Foma Jaremtschuk was born in a remote village in Siberia in 1907. He never learned to draw and completed only elementary education in a rural primary school, leaving after his 3rd grade.

Nothing is known about his early years, and only from the age of 29 can his history be traced. He was one of many victims of the Stalinist regime, after being accused of slander against the USSR in 1936, he was sent to a labour camp. In 1947 he was found to be mentally ill, schizophrenia being the likely diagnosis, and was moved from the labour camp to a mental hospital for the insane.

During this period, and up until 1963, Jaremtschuk produced hundreds of profoundly disturbing, yet highly accomplished drawings, which portrayed his inner hallucinatory world, using whatever materials he could find. Fortunately for posterity these drawings were kept by his doctor, otherwise this extraordinary artist’s work would never have surfaced. No work after this period have been found, and as his health deteriorated, he was transferred to a hospital for the seriously ill, and those whose mental health was such, as to be felt untreatable, he died there in 1986.

Jaremtschuk is that rare example of a classic art brut artist, one who was forced to exist in an isolated community away from the influence of the world and art history, hence these dark mesmeric drawings have only come to the public’s attention in recent years.

The book ‘Foma Jaremstchuk: An Art Brut Master Revealed’, can be ordered the book HERE

His work is represented in several important museum & public collections, including recent acquisitions by the Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, Portugal, and was shown for the very first time in America at the 2017 Outsider Art Fair.

 

All works circa 1950 – 60, courtesy of HENRY BOXER GALLERY

 

“The extent of the dehumanizing of people in
Jaremtschuk’s drawings is surely heavily influenced by
the brutal way zeks were habitually treated. Applebaum
tells us,“Even without outright sadism, the unthinking
cruelty of guards, who treated their prisoners as domestic
animals, led to much misery.”(3) And, as one prisoner
wrote,“The whole process of the disintegration of the 
personality took place before the eyes of everyone in the 
cell. A man could not hide himself here for an instant;
even his bowels had to be moved in the open toilet,
situated right in the room. He who wanted to weep, wept
 before everyone.”(4) It is also easy to see in the artist’s
work his daily experience of those who had reached the final stages of their lives, the so-called gavnoedy (shit-
eaters), or dokhodyagi (usually translated as‘goners’). Applebaum’s account, drawn from those of survivors,
could almost be a description of any number of
Jaremtschuk’s drawings:“In the final stages of starvation,
the dokhodyagi took on a bizarre and inhuman appearance, becoming the physical fulfilment of the
 dehumanizing rhetoric used by the state: in their dying 
days, enemies of the people ceased, in other words, to be
people at all. They became demented, often ranting and
 raving for hours. Their skin was loose and dry. Their eyes 
had a strange gleam. They ate anything they could get
their hands on – birds, dogs, garbage. They moved slowly,
and could not control their bowels or their bladders, as a 
result of which they emitted a terrible odour.”

Colin Rhodes  ‘Foma Jaremstchuk: An Art Brut Master Revealed’

 

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All works circa 1950 – 60, courtesy of HENRY BOXER GALLERY