Sudden nostalgia about my university years drag me to enjoy 50 Shades of Red at the Russian revolutionary poster room at The Tate Modern . I was wandering and wondering – who all these people on the posters were. They had to have a prototype.
In Russian art the models are equally as capturing.
I remember “Bathing of a Red Horse” in Tretyakov Gallery . The description in art-books threatened me with a “rounded coast line pushing the horse out of the frame”. But neither description nor photos prepare you for this painting: suddenly from 160sm*186sm canvas the arterial-deep-red colour surge towards you ; and Sergey Kalmykov, pained by Petrov-Vodkin – the boy with the biblical face, enclosed within his thoughts , riding the blood horse on the cold steel of the blue water.
Kalmykov came out of The Silver Age and avant-garde and went further – creating new style, which doesn’t have an analogy in the history of art, and still doesn’t have a name – they vary from “magical impressionism” to “Monster-style”.
“The midpoint of the Art at the moment is inside my head. I’m a painter, graphic artist, sculptor, decorator, art critic, Egyptologist, eclectic and aesthete, dreamer, orator and fantasist, an architect, , bibliophile, author of a great many volumes, diaries, biographies and unsent letters…”
This self-panegyric wasn’t far away from reality: his legacy contain more than 2000 diverse works of art. He didn’t exhibit or sell them during his life – everything was done for future generation: “The World is ill, and there is not surprising that only Artists can bring it to salvation”.
In his last years he came to extreme poverty: he painted on everything he could find – posters, pieces of cardboard. Sometimes on both side – to save space. Surviving on bread and milk in a studio-flat without furniture, he slept on a sheaf of newspapers, but he saw dreams in colours. By morning he transcribed them in alphabetically in diaries.
Pretending to be mad or being mad, he was forgotten as an artist, but avoided arrest and imprisonment. In his hand-made eccentric clothes, eventually he was accepted in town as a harmless and curious part of its scenery. But he saw it a different way:
“Just imagine – from the deepness of The Galaxy a million eyes are watching us. And what do they see? Boring, monochrome mass crawling on the ground, and suddenly – like a shot, something bright and colorful – I went out on a street”
“It is so easy to live like a line. It is hard to became a point” . He managed to became one, and hopefully his self-sacrifice and sage, enchanting works will bring us a little bit closer to salvation.
And so, today at the TATE Modern I keep searching for the sign of uniqueness of this people on the posters.
Did they had Destinies, which made them be picked out of the crowd and participate in the creation of art.
Or is my imagination whispering fictitious narratives of invented characters to me in vain, grand stories of models remain in The Silver Age, and future faces had been chosen already because they hadn’t stood from the crawling masses. And I wander, and I wonder.