6 July 2012

The Volga River flows

Exhibition opening

The opening of an exhibition of plein-air works by participants of the Russian Nile art project — Moscow artists Mikhail Tikhonov, Elena Utenkova-Tikhonova, Olga Pluzhnikova-Orlova, Igor Kamyanov and Nadezhda Krestinina took place in the Kamyshin business center. For a few hours, the “business space” turned into a crowded exhibition hall and a very spacious foyer could hardly accommodate everyone who wanted to see the exhibit.

Among the visitors were Kamyshin painters Pavel Butyaev, Alexey Petrov, Sergey Chegodaev, Mikhail Alexandrin, Sergey Lebedev, Tatiana Khomutovskaya, Tatiana Solnyshko, as well as teachers, entrepreneurs, students and the public just interested in cultural events. The initiator of this exposition project, director of the financial company GLASS, deputy of the Kamyshin City Duma Nikolay Malygin, made an introductory speech, followed by a surprisingly lively communication between the public and artists.

That’s what the artist Elena Utenkova-Tikhonova confessed to the audience:

― Why are we here? Because of the Volga, of course. In modern life, each of us has a lot of negativity around. But there is also what we survive with – love, beauty. We have never seen such a wide river. And when we were brought to the Urakov hillock, we just suffocated from the vastness. We are experiencing an absolutely joyful feeling from meetings with local residents. In my opinion, all this is given to us as a gift or reward for something we do!

I would not say that the exhibited works are simple art. The artists create (as they themselves believe) in the genre of realism. But in my opinion, many of their works are associative paintings. These are attractive, but ephemeral silhouettes, the play of shadows, glare, waves, wind. The paintings “tremble”, sometimes they seem “wet”, sometimes “dried up” by the midday sun.

The public I managed to talk at the exhibition agreed that many of the works are pure impressionism. On this occasion, I liked the remarks of Anatoly Khobotov:

– It’s interesting, after all, that artists don’t see the world the way we do. Here I look at the figure ― and I would correct it. But as the guide Mary once told me at the Impressionist Museum in France, “a real artist only sets the theme and sets the mood, and you have to understand.”

Yulia Chuksina, Director of the Kamyshin Art Gallery, art critic:

– The current art does not adhere to the strict framework of the genre. It is based on a mixture of styles and trends. The author realizes himself, not caring which school he will then be assigned to. I really like the artworks I see. They all have a bright associative series, color solutions are found in contrasts. Look at this “Left Bank”. The stroke is virtuoso. The moonlight track is playing. Pacification ― the main music of the canvas I see – is perceived so naturally. It is impossible to move away from this artworks.

Vera Wagner, Senior Researcher at the Kamyshin Art Gallery:

– Take a look here – “Atlantic” by Olga Pluzhnikova-Orlova, a great combination of cold and warm tones. Hot sand, cold water. A well-built perspective. A lot of air. And Elena Utenkova-Tikhonova’s pastel “Two” just won me over. Such an indescribable feeling of unity, one space for two!

Svetlana Sablina, painter from Kamyshin:

– This is, of course, the real Russian avant-garde. Everything consists of a presentiment that the main thing has not yet been revealed to you. You have to think, and listen – to yourself. I am pleased to get acquainted with these paintings!

Tatiana Khomutovskaya, artist from Kamyshin and member of the Union of Artists of Russia:

– The originality of the works is in the manner of conveying emotions. The details are not spelled out, but the condition is clearly perceived. I am always glad to see the wonderful work of my colleagues.

And here ‘s what the heroes of today ‘s event themselves told me:

Nadezhda Krestinina:

― Do not look for any special subtext in my drawings. Here is an apple tree, I saw it on some old Kamyshin street. I have a bright, sunny one, it’s a miniature holiday. I just drew my joy!

Igor Kamyanov:

– There is a naked female body on the canvas. This is not an allegory, but a painting from nature. Love is the movement for me. And you also can see this movement – perhaps some kind of your own, understandable only to you.

…And so the first amazing hour passed in the discussions, the second… Visitors exchanged discoveries, gathered in small groups, the centers of which were always the artists. And I was very sorry that none of the officials of the local departments of culture came to the exhibition that evening.

For some reason, I woul like to show the city officials that it is really possible to gather an enthusiastic audience without the stupid songs of the folk ensemble and without the ceremoniously screaming entertainers (like those who furnished the performance at the maternity hospital and other city celebrations). The Kamyshin intelligentsia seems to be longing for something real and tired of fake “official” creativity. However, you don’t have to agree with me on this…

[Text: Irina Maslova]