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Evening over Moscow River. The ‘Russian impressionism’ in the works of Nikolay Burtov.

Exhibition at The Paveletskaya Tower Business Centre.
October - November, 2005.
The ‘Russian impressionism’ in the works of Nikolay Burtov has presented itself most brightly at his personal exhibition in Podolsk Central Exhibition Hall, in 2004, where 100 out of 167 compositions were dated by 2003-2004.
The technique the French artists have discovered and developed in the second half of the XIX century, appears to be proper to express a certain stage of our life.
Everything is matching to the temperament of the artist here: work in the open air, a confessing sincerity of painting, a sharp sensation of the moment. The term ‘impressionism’ in exact translation means ‘impression’. It is important, how deep and wide this impression reflects our time.
Probably, long travels the artist had made to Cuba, to Indonesia, the international open-airs in Gurzuf and Belarus have sharpen the feeling of history always inherent in the artist, and the sensation of national features and peculiarity of the modern situation. Now, different culture and spirituality come to this country.

A diverse image of the ancient capital of our country has been presented in the works of the artist as never before. In ‘Evening over Moscow River’, 2003, the image of megapolis sounds different: we see the river of life, mighty and deep, embanked by heavy and bulky houses of Stalin times. A skyscraper is looming up above horizon. Streams of cars and streamlets of pedestrians are flanking the river, as its imperceptible and powerful flow remains the main motive. The pinkish light of sunset sky and the cold gray-blue smooth water surface bring a timeless sounding to the motive.
‘Moscow Kremlin’, 2003, is one of the most well-known architectural motives of Moscow and therefore one of the most difficult to picture.

N. Burtov does not aspire to impress us by the height and might of defensive works. Among the few others, he interprets the Kremlin as a human handwork, as something the people needed. Its handicraft character makes alive even the most solemn ensemble. Our ancestors built it up and it is still alive for us.
Moscow temples have acquired significance, became an organic part of the city environment. ‘Moscow. Pyatnitskaya Street’, 2002, reflects a cold winter day. Blue shadows, sparkling air filled with pieces of ice. A white temple adorned with a stucco moulding, a sky-punching silhouette of a beauty–belfry of the XVII century. Blue, pink on a snow along with red stains of passer-bys’ figures produce an impression of enchanting luminescence.
The interpretation of Russian countryside town motives has changed a little: now it is an image of a family nest where two or three generations have lived. ‘House of a Blacksmith in Tarusa’, 2003, cannot be treated as a ‘portrait of house’. The house stands in the street, in a number of other houses though it remains the center of the motive. It is a mighty and well-groomed stone house.

The number of aerials on a roof shows several generations of a big family living in the house now. It is a big street, and the house is close to the center of a small town. There are many similar houses still preserved in old towns. Thus it is a history of a provincial Russian life: a still instant of a swift-flowing life. The artist’s sympathy for this modest world of beauty of the Russian province is very important. Now, the riches of reddish-crimson, dark and pale blue, brown-olive and variety of green tints altogether attract the artist creating a unique show.
In our opinion, not less significant there has been revealed the theme of human life presented in a still-life. Usually, it is a flower still-life. It coveys no flower symbolics, as in works of old masters, as it is alien to the spirit of modern culture of our people, but the remained symbolics of an object is easily read in the created situation.

‘Still-life with a Lilac’, 2001, is a love story, indeed. It tells of a house, finally found, where the lilac blossoms and an armful of flowers may be put in a vase. It is so nice to sit at this table together, to drink wine from cyan-blue happy wine-glasses. And a gold sitting statuette which happened by chance on a table is a gold dream in reality. Silvery-lilac air is filling up the empty space when the hosts left the table and keeping up a soft charm of the mood.
The same motive is conveyed in ‘Still-life with a Mirror’, 2004, where it acquires a sun light amplified with a light reflection in a mirror. The stream of light becomes a burst of pleasure, a violence of feelings, thus loosing a charm of mystery. An absolutely special quality is inherent in a still-life ‘Falling Peonies’, 2004, where the beauty of flowering and grief of withering are mixed together.

The still-life is made as if in an instant. Harmonies of whimsical color combinations easily enter the soul of a spectator. It seems we look at a natural motive where nothing is touched with the artist’s brush, nothing is added to what everyone can see. The artist has simply attracted our attention, has forced us to peer at the life of nature. The flowers are stretching out to us for we could have seen them better. Heavy branches have lain down on the grass as living things, moving closer to us. Here, like in music, we enjoy the burst of life pleasure, and silvery accompaniment of the main theme – the grief of withering.

The frameworks of genres appear dim and contain an unexpected interpretation along with significant contents. It is inverted to both senses and mind. Possibly, those images of Moscow, the Kremlin, the temples altogether embody the community of the Russian people, a realized reunion of people and spiritual primacy above commonness on the edge of centuries. All motives are presented in virtual or real relation to the streams of people.
This opinion is in no way instructive: believe it or not, please, take it as something related to our natural landscape. No pose of a law scholar or a prophet is intended. Nikolay Burtov is a master, the one who creates beautiful painting, which is to convey his sincere hearty warmth and affectionate thought.

By article of V.A. Spiryanova, critic, Honoured Worker of Arts

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