“Here are unmatched memories of a Moscow where we would like to live”
Sergei Avksentevich KOLYADA and Moscow
By Valentina AZARKOVICH
Sergei Avksentevich Kolyada seemed predestined to an artistic career. As he himself says, the painter is only “one category of the human soul”. He created for himself a personal opinion about Russian history, about the mentality and soul of the Russian nation. He added his own vision about the development of philosophy, the prickly ways of Christianity, of esotericism, about the evolution of human morals, all his opinions marked with originality. The paintings, while only part of his spiritual life, are the most revealing of his personality, and as such, intrinsically linked to creation and all open to the beauty of the world.
His decision to become a painter matured during his teenage years. He was trained in Nikolaï Krimov’s studio for whom the importance of tones in painting was supreme. These experiences initiated the budding artist to numerous secrets he used in working out his landscapes, and taught him how to seize the smallest change when painting in life.
David Shterenberg, his second master, (at Vhutemas), for whom perception of the dominant tone of subjects was of utmost importance, brought to him the knowledge of the world of colour. These two methods (which at first seemed to be mutually exclusive), actually enriched the artist’s ability to think independently – as demonstrated in the compromise he was able to reach between the two approaches. In fact, Krymov and Shterenberg when they pictured the real world or when they composed used all the richness of the palette, and the more subtle grading of colour.
Life experiences and spiritual searches preceded the unfolding of Kolyada’s artistic career. His works are mostly associated with the three styles of painting he likes best: portraits, landscapes, and still-lives. In a portrait, he unfailingly seized the character of his model, and for people whom he considered very close to him spiritually, the artist established a deeper level of contact and was able to perceive the model’ spiritual aura.
In the still-lives, composed of familiar objects, one can hear a kind of slow and peaceful conversation in their artistic orchestration. Sometimes, the exuberant still-lives expressed (in an impetuous manner), the joy of the artist contemplating the beauty of the shining colours of ripened fruits which he saw as a miraculous gift of Nature and its Creator.
The landscape was for the artist a life-long interest. The series of “Old Moscow” paintings initiated in 1968 and continued over many years, were a special interest of the Artist’s. At that time, large housing projects were springing up everywhere. They were putting pressure on old suburbs that had remained unthreatened for decades. His easel as his weapon, the painter regarded his duty as a need to reproduce everything that was disappearing irretrievably. His paintings such as “Breaking the Zaradie” are of archival value: a disinterested and unbiased artistic report. But, at the same time, one can feel on these canvases the quiver of crumbling buildings, perhaps even their soul, tied for ever to those that left them.
A genuine artist, Sergei Kolyada knows how to grasp the unique character of every house when creating its portrait. He was born in”Sokolniki“, he spent a few years at “Taganka“, he knew very well the “Rogozhskaya Zastava“, the adjacent lanes, short and straight like:”Schkolnaya ,Wekowaya” lined by linden, the long “Toulinskaya“, the old “Syromyatniki“, going down the hill where can be found the monastery “Spasso-andronikov”. There, according to the legend, is buried one of the monks : Andreï Roublev, the great painter of medieval Russia.
One will look in vain for sumptuous historical ensembles in Kolyada’s old Moscow. He prefers quiet streets, small lanes, dead-ends. In his opinion, these are what reveal the real life of the city. The Muscovite lifestyle, despite an ever increasing rhythm, tends towards contemplation without agitation, to an intimate communication. Kolyada does not observe the life of this gigantic city from the outside, but rather from the inside. The master’s strokes recreate this life through the succulent colours of a summer afternoon, or by the sad tones of a rainy autumn day.
In these paintings, the city sights so usual, so familiar to the Muscovites in their smallest details, strike by the mysterious magic of the night, by a humid and cold day which transfigures houses and trees.
The painter carefully studied the story of every house, every church every street. He studied archives and read numerous books about Moscow. The catalogue of his exhibition “Landscapes of Old Moscow”, edited in 1985, is the result of precise research. The representation of every building was coupled with a whole biography, sometimes amusing, always interesting very often dramatic. The history of these streets, of these houses, reflects the history of Russia itself. Analyst and romantic, persevering researcher, in love with Moscow, Kolyada’s soul cannot be separated from the city that nourished him.
Sergei Kolyada’s talent shows in his work the combination of two distinct qualities: the poetic spirituality and the rational restraint of his vision; this harmony always tells of a profound and honest nature. Landscapes are the field where the qualities of this talent are best asserted.
Valentina Azarkovich – 1985 –
Former Senior Advisor State Tretiakov Gallery,Moscow