Talented interpretation of artists’ own times is stronger than any ideological norms
What is the essence of 20th century heroic spirit and lyrics?
What is the essence of 20th century heroic spirit and lyrics? The National Art Museum has tried to answer this multi-faceted question by organising an exhibition of Russian paintings from its own collections, with many of the pieces unseen since Soviet days.
Centuries change and the routines of the past are perceived differently — as a pure game of light and colour and a classical artistic form lacking any imposed interpretation. Despite the usual approach of seeking out Soviet or social-realistic aspects in Soviet art, it’s clear that the works on show are not primarily dictated by ideology (despite some of the plots). Rather, they reflect the artists’ own expressions.
It seems that it was not Maxim Gorky who inspired 20th century Russian painters (does anyone truly think it was ever so?). Rather, the French impressionists of the late 19th century, and the early 20th century Russian impressionists seem to have inspired Russian ‘socialistic realism’, with their form, colour, and use of light.
In the same manner, the language of academic art (originating from classicism) lies with the Itinerants, who intentionally stepped aside from excessive detail. By the late 19th-early 20th century, Igor Grabar, Ilya Mashkov, Piotr Konchalovsky and Isaak Brodsky had taken the lead, followed by Alexander Gerasimov, Sergey Gerasimov, Georgy Pimenov, Alexey and Sergey Tkachevs, Grigory Nissky and Arkady Plastov. We see their inner worlds on the canvas, while social aspects take a minor role (perhaps due to the Soviet ideal of erasing obvious social differences).
Heroism and Lyricism of the Past Century, the exhibition at the National Art Museum, features over 40 works by Russian artists, including Alexey and Sergey Tkachevs, who lived and worked in Belarus for a long time, and Grigory Nissky, who was born in the Gomel Region. All made their name in Russia, interestingly.
Everyone should see the beauty and power, the heroism and lyricism of these works of art. They rival any modern work in their emotional impact.
By Veniamin Mikheev
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