Born in 1949 in Moscow, the artist studied art professionally since the age of 13; first at the Moscow Art High School and then at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute.
Educated in the classical realist tradition, and greatly inspired by the Northern Renaissance masters, Shulzhenko creates searing portraits of Russian life. However, it was only with the new political atmosphere in Russia that Shulzhenko was finally able to exhibit his paintings. He describes his work as "inspired by the facts of life which he observes, interprets, and tries to generalize". The images in his paintings manage to be at once easily recognized Russian types, and universal allegories.
Since first exhibiting his works in Moscow in the late 1980's, Shulzhenko has participated in numerous exhibitions in Russia, Europe, and the United States. His work has received wide critical acclaim and recognition. His paintings and studio were featured in the motion picture "Back in USSR". His painting "The Temptation" was among only 25 works, chosen from thousands of entries for the Special Focus Exhibit, curated by Suzanne Ghez of the Renaissance Society, at the Chicago International Art Expo in 1992.
Shulzhenko's works are in many prominent public and private collections in Europe and in America. In 1994 his painting was purchased by Christian Keesee Collection of Contemporary Russian Art. The Keesee Collection has been touring museums in the United States in 1995.
In 1998 two of the artist’s paintings were purchased for the permanent collection of the Duke University Museum of Art, one of premier collections of contemporary Russian art in the United States.
Vasily Shulzhenko lives and works in Moscow.