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Ivan Kirillov & Maria Podkopaeva

Ivan Kirillov & Maria Podkopaeva

Ivan Kirillov

Ivan Kirillov was born in Penza. No wonder that after long searches for the life purpose, as he calls it, "the way to the beauty and harmony", he found himself in K. A. Savitsky Art School in Penza. The very spirit of the hundred years' traditions of this oasis of Russian realism grew into the talent of a young man, placing him among followers of Penza school of painting. Creative work of this artist wonderfully revives genre and landscape of the Itinerants, whose members were also K. A. Savitskiy and I. S. Goryushkin-Sorokopudov (apprentice of I. Repin). Their apprentices - direct heirs of the great school of painting - were teaching I. Kirillov in his years of study.

The works are remarkable for their special life truthfulness: they reveal, similar to written words, the artists thoughts and sometimes even the aspects of his life. Simple plot, enlivened by a personal vision of the master, becomes a sufficient theme of the work of art. An ability to see "great in small" and discover the penetrating beauty of the world through the emptiness and commonness of every day life - all this form the basis of creative work of the artist. These qualities distinguish such paintings as "From a forest Lake" and "Still Life with an Oak Broom".

In his works the artist reveals beauty and variety of the world. Ivan Kirillov finds this perfection in a Russian village and, in particular, in flowing rhythm of the Russian North. This theme is gradually uncovered in the landscapes of Archangelsk region and symbolic items of rural life. An original apotheosis of I. Kirillov's reflections about inclement nature of the North and about lives of the natives found it's place in the painting "High Water. Russian North" -the graduation work that was being thought out for eight years. It is felt as the hymn to the greatness of these lands. The Nature can be rightly considered the main source of inspiration for I. Kirillov. Search of the harmony between man and nature serves the best incentive for the art work. The painter treasures slender fur-trees, roofs covered with snow, little bath-houses by the water, overflow of the river and villages on its banks... He admires everything that surrounds him and worships perfection of the nature.

Urban landscape is a special aspect of I. Kirillov creative work. Bygone Moscow is most dear to his heart, so he tries to find it in all ins and outs of the city. Walking along its streets, he does not pay attention to its gloss but dissolves in serene side-streets, where he can find pure architectural styles. Still, "Moscow-City" unexpectedly appears in his canvases - this image of a changed city is a tribute to the development of civilization. In the same way, U. Pimenov in 1937 captured radical changes in the appearance of this city in the painting "New Moscow".

Everyday life and work attract I. Kirillov as much as glorious historical deeds. The artist is convinced that "at bottom of fact, the world of people has changed only its outside appearance, but not its essence". May be, that is the reason why the subjects of his paintings seem so timeless to us. They are highly poetical, even chamber art pieces. Spectators that possess rich inner world are mostly attracted to these motives. Human aspect is always present in the works of I. Kirillov, giving an appraisal to the depicted through the eyes of the painter.

Because of genre subjects, such canvases as "Mischief-Makers. Sketch of City Life" and "Choosing the Bride" appear to be more organic for the art work of I. Kirillov than monumental historical pieces uncovering serious themes and events of the past. Nevertheless, the artist has enough audacity and skill to work with great themes of Russian and foreign history. As a monumentalist painter, the master uncovers himself in such works as "Alexander the Great and Diogenes", "Murder of Cesar", "Nicholas of Mirlikia Stops Execution of Three Innocent Condemned", and "By the Bed of Ivan the Terrible".

Regarding creative work of I. Kirillov as a whole, one can note that it is lyrical in genre, concordant with human emotions and simple in plots. And still, the art of this painter has another festive and joyful side. It presents different canvases, painted with pure and bright colors and pastous strokes that render fairy moments of life. These are "Christmas Eve", "Festive Evening", "By the Porch", "Ice-Hill", etc.

When choosing the subject, Ivan Kirillov follows his heart. He does not try to find an idol among painters or subdue his art work to the limits of one style. His works reflect deep personal perception of the reality. Countless faces of the world and thrill of its ever changing views are concentrated in vivid sketches of surrounding life.

Ekaterina Goudze

Maria Podkopaeva

Maria Podkopaeva is an artist who went a long way of consistent studies until she became proficient in her occupation. Having overcome all the difficulties, she managed to determine the circle of themes and subjects for her art work. As a result of such serious background, came harmonious and well-composed artistic system of her canvases.

For M. Podkopaeva, historical genre is a possibility to fulfill her potential and rare talent. Far not every artist dare to master this special sphere of painting, for it comes with a great responsibility before national history and contemporary spectator, as well as before an artistic form. All these aspects can become a barrier for taking this way. M. Podkopaeva spends much time gaining archival information and accomplishing a lot of preparatory work to realize a great or even grandiose design. Such serious and well-founded approach also characterizes her smaller paintings.

In historical canvases it seems like the author "plunges" into the subject. For example, in the scaled "Ivan the Terrible in Alexander Quarter" the very spirit of boyars' Russia is felt in every detail: from heavy gold-embroidered material to a low chamber interior. General medieval spirit is highlighted by a mysterious consistent coloring.

Another immense canvas "Troubled Times" (graduation work) does not reduce the subject to a limited episode, but enlarges it with several scenes that perfectly render the rage of the political distemper and its terrible consequences. Because of such coverage of the theme, the spectator can easily deep in the atmosphere of the early 17th century. In connection with this painting one can recall an artistic approach of the great historical painter Vasiliy Surikov. In particular, such his works as "Morning of Execution of the Rifleman" or "Boyar Morozova". It is "the talent of "enlightment" when comprehending the past" and ability "to establish secret connection between the present and gone days" (G. Churak) that characterizes the masterpieces of Surikov. Undoubtedly, these qualities are the most precious advantages of the works of Maria Podkopaeva.

Psychological portrait is another artistic achievement of the painter. Queen Sofia on the canvas is first of all a strong woman sitting on the throne with scepter and orb in her hands. Her eyes uncover biting irony as an answer to a spiteful play of fate in the history of Russia. In the painting "Marfa", the image of Marfa Boretskaya, shown as a nun, is filled with severe wisdom, which is characteristic for the natives of Novgorod lands.

In such paintings as "Portrait of the Tsar's Village Constable", "Reading", "Boyar", one can note that picturesque and charismatic Russian characters are inseparable with the time, in which they are placed by the artist. M. Podkopaeva in themes and style comes close to the artistic system of I. Repin, in particular, to his preparatory portraits for the "Religious Procession in Kursk Province".

Probably the best words about historical paintings of Maria Podkopaeva were said by Pushkin: "There's Russian spirit.. .Russians scent!" In such works as "Wanderers", "In Izba", "Old Believers", the artist turns to a folk element, showing national spirit, particular way of life and harmony of the Russian soul. "Russian Beauty" and "Tea-Drinking" are the brightest examples of this theme. The latter work is consonant with a popular subject among Russian painters, for example "Tea-Drinking in Mytishchi, near Moscow" by V. Perov, or "Merchant's Wife Drinking Tea" by B. Kustodiev, where hospitable and festive atmosphere highlights the breadth of the Russian soul.

In spite of historical paintings, there are other themes in the art work of M. Podkopaeva. As any woman, Maria adores flowers: she depicts them right from the ground, rendering their living greenery and charming bloom. This aspect in her work is truly inexhaustible, and is always original and joyful.

The artist tries to catch the naturalness of the subject, learning from all the beautiful plants that she sees every summer in a village near Alexander suburb. Nothing avoids her attention, whether it is a dog-rose bush, unpretentious chamomiles and dandelions, or rich geranium - every flower is another personification of "Russian spirit".

Landscapes of M. Podkopaeva also have national features, such as moderate nature, unspoilt by the sun, and high slender trees that proudly lift their crowns to the skies.

The talent of the artist organically found its manifestation in the genre of still life. The works are distinguished by an expressive and sharp manner that comes from aspiration to completeness of artistic forms, accuracy of lines, and detalization. "Montenegro Still Life" shows the advantages of this harmonious system.

The art work of Maria Podkopaeva is an example of integrity and gradual development. Her paintings are determined by harmonious color and relaxing calmness. They also uncover a thought out system where every stroke is measured, but does not show the lack of frankness of perception. In the work "Childhood" the door is a symbol of transformation from child to a man, but still, the composition is highly expressive and emotional, underlining the spontaneity of the moment.

Paintings of M. Podkopaeva are highly national - they convey the depth and originality of the Russian soul. She pays most attention to the natural demonstration of common Russian features provided by nature, history and rural way of life. The artist's works show an ability to render the spirit of the historical time and depict a bright image of a Russian character. Combined with an aspiration to a technical perfection, these aspects make Maria Podkopaeva a rightful successor of the best traditions of Russian realistic school of painting.

Ekaterina Goudze

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