Viktor Shvaiko Biography
Born in Altai, one of Russia’s most remote towns, Viktor Shvaiko grew up surrounded by the beauty of the wilderness and a natural inclination to share his vision of nature.
It drove him to the Novoaltaisk Artistic School, one of the best schools for the arts in the former Soviet Union. Viktor credits his teacher, Ilbek Khairoullinov, for a fine arts education, and the influence of the 19th century Russian artist Karl Brynllow for bringing him close to a traditional academic style of painting.
The Shvaiko family then moved to Transkarpathia, the western mountainous portion of Ukraine. There Viktor became enchanted with the picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful countryside.
Shvaiko chafed under the stifling effect that the lingering Russian bureaucracy had on the careers of young artists. Unable to get a visa to a Western country, Viktor was permitted to travel to Yugoslavia.
In the confusion of the civil war there, he fled to Italy with his paintings strapped to his back, arriving virtually penniless.
Viktor survived by selling his paintings on the streets of Rome. He managed to build a following for
himself, save some money, and eventually returned to a more liberalized Russia, where he was able to obtain
passage to America.
Arriving in New York with little money and less English, Viktor was again able to survive by selling his work. It was here he developed his penchant for painting the little cafes and other intimate places that we see in the work displayed at the Roger Yost Gallery.