Ukhnaliov was born in Leningrad in 1931, which was a politically fragile time in Russia at the time, due to the politically motivated soviet famine of 1931-1933. Hence, the period of dekulakization was pursued during this period, which was meant to supposedly lineate the economic disparity present in Russia prior to the political ascend of the Bolsheviks. These years saw governmental interference through forced collectivization of agricultural products, such as wheat, grain and farm animals, under the pretence that the kulaks (or the rich peasants) were the main culprits. The consequences of collectivization were drastic- approximately 5.5.-6.5. millions of Russians died as a result.
The volatile situation with which Ukhnaliov was faced with growing up became even more so when he pursued his studies. The years 1944-1948 saw Ukhnaliov study at the seconday I. Repin Art College at the St. Petersburg State Academy Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. The end of the Second World War, as well as the gradual emergence and dominance of the communist USSR as a superpower in the struggle against USA in the cold war had a fundamental impact on Ukhnaliov as an artist. Ukhnaliov’s radical artistic endeavors, as well as social and political criticism which was evident on his canvases ensured that straight after graduation in 1948 he was arrested and sentenced to 25 years according to Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code. The same year Ukhnaliov was sent to a Gulag in Vorkuta; a gulag being a soviet labor camp, where political dissidents as well as critics of the regime were sent to indefinitely.
Nonetheless, Ukhnaliov was released after six years at the labor camp in 1954, which led him to return to Leningrad. In possession of a highly coveted degree from the Repin Art College, Ukhnaliov was employed as an architect for the design of institutes. The years of 1967-1975 witnessed Ukhnaliov working as the chief architect at the State Hermitage Museum, which not only was a great honor at the time, but also an acceptance of Ukhnaliov’s talents.
Ukhnaliov’s passion for architecture and art allowed him to be a member of the Council under the President of Russian Federation, which advises on cultural and artistic pursuits. In 1997, Ukhnaliov was given the title of People’s Artist of Russian Federation. Nevertheless, it was Ukhnaliov’s official inauguration into the Russian Union of Artists that signified the complete pardoning of his previous politically challenging art works and the ultimate acceptance of him as an artist and a Russian citizen.
Selected Artistic Awards rewarded:
2004 Anniversary of the Complete Liberation of Leningrad from the Nazi Blockade, Liberal Artist Award.
2003 In Commemoration of the 300-th Anniversary of St. Petersburg, Honorary Artist Award.
1995 50 Years of Victory in Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945, Liberal Artist Award.
Selected Solo exhibitions:
2011 Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg, Russia
2001 State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
1997 Anna Akhmatova Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
1995 Cultural Center of Salzburg, Austria.
1993 Solo exhibitions at galleries and exhibition halls, San Francisco, CA, USA.
1988 Dostoevsky Museum, Leningrad.
Selected Museum and Public and Private Collections:
State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia;
Anna Akhmatova Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia;
Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art, St. Petersburg, Russia;
Kemerovo regional museum of fine arts, Kemerovo, Russia.
Ukhnalev’s works can be found in private collections in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Germany and the USA.