Stepan Kolesnikov was born into a peasant family in the village of Adrianople of the Yekaterinoslav Province of the Slavyanoserbsk District on July 11, 1879. The boy showed his art gifts early in childhood. He took first painting classes from visiting isographs. As early as 1896 his drawings were selected to the All-Russian exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod and won the municipal council’s award as a grant for receiving the appropriate education.
In 1897 Stepan Kolesnikov entered the Odessa Art School, one of the best art educational institutions of Russia of that time. At school he soon got friendly with future classics of Soviet painting, such as Isaac Brodsky, Mitrofan Martyshchenko (Grekov), and the future classic of Russian avant-garde David Burliuk.
Later he studied at the Academy of Arts and graduated it with the artist title and the right for oversea creative trip. His graduation work The Spring pooled the results of his numerous student landscapes, which he brought from his frequent trips to the south of Russia, Bessarabia, the Balkans, and the Carpathians. Stepan Kolesnikov visited France and Italy and soon afterwards made a long trip to Turkestan and China.
The artist’s favourite subject matter was the condition of the South Russian nature in its exuberant awakening, such as thawing of snow, high waters, cheerful spring days, and the like. He was also fond of painting home compositions occupied with people and pets. During World War I he resorted to the military subject, and created a range of canvasses that got positive responses.
Till the times of great turmoil (October Revolution of 1917, the Civil War) the prolific artist worked a lot and regularly participated in numerous exhibitions. Stepan Kolesnikov was highly appreciated by art critics and often got awards.
In 1920 Stepan Kolesnikov emigrated from the storming country and settled in Serbia. Soon he became professor of the Belgrade Academy of Arts. In the 1920s he organized several personal exhibitions in the countries of Europe. At the same time he created a range of serious monumental works. A plafond painting of over 80 square meters for the Opera House in Belgrade was among them. The artist’s works are kept in the leading museums of the country.
Little is known about his life and activities abroad. In the last 12 years of his life the artist suffered from Parkinsonism.
Stepan Kolesnikov died in May, 1955 and was laid down to rest on the New Cemetery not far from the Iviron Chapel in Belgrade.