Russian Landscape in the age of Tolstoy at the National Gallery London

From: rat
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 28 July 2004


Go and see this. Why Tolstoy, guess it sounds good, not sure what landscape has to do with Tolstoy's epics except that it was in the background. See it, partly because it's the road less travelled by, not, to use a non-now expression the avant-garde in painting, who weren't in Russia till Malevich and co. unleashed their bolshie tricks, and therefore shows the difference between the great and the good. Shiksin can paint a snowy tree remarkably with the snow crystals glinting at you and the heavy form electrified blue against the sky, but notice he doesn't get the gaps between the branches right, he's just coloured them in. Compare Constable. Kuindzhi is a dab hand at moonlight paint effects but he's no Monet or even close to being as good as any decent impressionist, with his leaden heavy desire to dazzle.

You see interesting paintings, optic marvels, of full forests and darkness, all the ambition of academic painters pushing their technique to its depicting limits. And you don't see the grace of invention which comes from great painting's ability to circumvent convention or labour, real painting, the avant garde's urgency to do new which drags art forward.