Oleg Vassiliev is a Russian painter associated with the Soviet Nonconformist Art style. Vassiliev emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York in 1990 and currently lives and works in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Vassiliev graduated from V.I. Surikov State Art Institute, Moscow, in 1958. In the late 1950s he became influenced by the Russian avant-garde formalists, Vladimir Favorsky (1886-1964), Robert Falk (1886-1958), and A.V. Fonvizin (1882-1973).
From the 1950s through the 1980s, Vassiliev worked with friend and collaborator Erik Bulatov as a children's book illustrator. They developed a unique style of illustration that combined realist painting with graphic elements, such as text. This "official" source of income provided the means and materials for Vassiliev to take part in the Soviet Nonconformist Art movement, also known as "unofficial" or "dissident" art. Along with friends, Ilya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov and Victor Pivovarov, Vassiliev belonged to a large group of Soviet artists that took advantage of the Nikita Khrushchev "thaw" in official policy that opened up the Soviet Union to Western culture in the years following Joseph Stalin's death in 1953.
During this period of time Vassiliev developed his mature style. In his art Vassiliev combines the traditions of Russian Realism of the 19th century with the Russian avant-garde of the beginning of the 20th century. "VassilievТs principal themes, which were born while he was in Russia and continue to the present day, are his memories of home and houses, roads, forests, fields, friends and family. Vassiliev always starts his creative process from a very personal memory, from his sacred space, the safeguarded inner center, and connects it with the visual image. Vassiliev masterfully incorporates elements from different times and spaces and arranges them throughout his paintings according to the logic and 'energetic' space of the painting."