Portrait of Lida Zerkalchtchikova, “Zvéniévaïa” from the Kolkhoze “The Victory”, Naro-fominsk area, 1959
A “zvéniévaia”, a leader. This canvas is, despite its apparent links to officialdom, freed from the optimistic “clichés” common in the official Russian Art of the 50s, which concealed the truth about a society and the real tragedy of people’s lives.
But, for the author of this portrait, any lie is foreign and unacceptable.
This painting is brushed in a classical manner, in a style universally accepted at that time, but deliberately modified by the painter. Moreover, the subject is a woman, and the woman always was for the artist a subject of aesthetic admiration. He emphasises the supple curve of her silhouette through the fluidity of the drapes, by the gold, ochre, and olive interlaces of the leaves of corn.
Yet, the skilled portraitist’s eye knew how to seize the physically dominant features of his model. The young girl’s physical aspect, modelled by the red mark of a modest dress, and by the dark blue of a jacket, the hardly perceptible tension of the shoulders, the lips a little too tight; all witnesses to her character and will. The look is pensive, the peaceful soul transfiguring the woman’s face.
The face fascinates by its natural charm. The painter illuminates it vividly, as if to show in it the light of the spirit, to reveal in it traces of the Eternal – even the white scarf, knotted in a traditional way – seems like the halo of a kind of “peasant Madonna”.
Such an idealisation of feminine beauty echoed the classical tradition of portrait in Russian Art, especially that of “Venetsianov”.
Portrait of Hannah, artist’s wife 1991
It is one of his best portraits, one in which the artist attains the total mastery of his Art and an epitome in the psychological study undertaken. The rather sombre setting of the scenery obliges us to concentrate our attention on the model’s face, and her adornment in a many-coloured dress. The exquisite technique of the composition – associating intense colours (red and green) with a contrasted lighting -, creates a spirited atmosphere. The painter has observed the secret soul of his deeply loved wife, who is withdrawn into a deep meditation, removed from the usual agitation – buried in the past -…
The painter discovers the difficult life-path of a courageous woman. He reveals a character in all its integrity. (She actually did meet atrocious difficulties in her life). Yet, she did not become hard. She endured with strong love, sincere compassion and happiness without restriction… because for her, life is nothing less than a precious gift from Heaven.
Carved with vigour, as if by a chisel, the face shows the picture of a generous personality, wise and magnanimous; all open to the beauty of the world – which she salutes with enthusiasm -.