Introduction to Old Moscow

“The idea that art can play a significant role in spiritual life is an ancient one in most societies; In Russia it is an idea which has proved more tenacious than elsewhere”.

Matthew BOWN

S.A. KOLYADA and MOSCOW

By A.M.E – J.L.E
Klimentovski Street, 1974  Oil on canvas 60 x 40 cm

Klimentovski Street, 1974
Oil on canvas 60 x 40 cm

These paintings are representative of Kolyada’s mastery of his art form.  In technique and visual appearance, they are a skilful invocation of color and form.  Yet beyond such masterful pictorial memories of Old Moscow is a greater symbolism: the artist’s personal exploration and expression of the common human quest for spirituality and the unique spiritual experience of Muscovites during a very long period of religious and political oppression.

In this way, Kolyada’s paintings are not only a historical record of the physical aspects of Old Moscow, but also an expression of the experience of spirituality, hope and oppression during this same period.

Kolyada’s fascination for “old Moscow” is the result of a confluence of his ideals, inclinations and memories of youth.  Yet what remain of the Moscow of Kolyada’s youth is only an immense spiritual emptiness and the slow degradation and destruction of the stately old churches, homes and buildings – razed to the ground in order to make way for new, sanitized mass-housing projects.

It is unlikely that Kolyada ever anticipated the irrevocable changes and widespread destruction that would so change the face of the “Old Moscow” of his youth.  Compelled by a sense of urgency, the artist raised his brush to record the buildings, roads, houses and churches of old.

In addition to such physical historical records, the artist’s work is at the same time an expression of a period of spiritual and religious oppression.  He demonstrates how his epoch was an empty period in the development of the human spirit

Thus, the artist seeks to express his personal protest against the constraints imposed by the political regime of the day, despite the inherent risks involved in such subversive pursuits.

These facts allow us to speculate (with all due caution) that Kolyada’s paintings are intended to convey an allegorical message.  More than a descriptive reality, Kolyada commits himself to express his own ideas and beliefs. What causes a painter to be acclaimed and successful in his own day, and how posterity will regard his achievements remain contentious issues today.

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