Sunday, 21 March 2010

Lively Russian Winter

Long spell of grey winters may be another name of ‘gloom and doom’. But for ages Russians know how to turn adverse conditions in their favour. They know “Russian Winter” is the name of the game.

Winter or no winter, life never ceases to be interesting to them. They know the art of celebrating life in spite of snowy, icy and frosty wintry months.

Who else but artists can mirror this spirit on their canvas and preserve it for posterity to see. A painting exhibition illustrating the very vibrant spirit of the Russians of the bygone era is on in New Delhi.

Over two dozen paintings, from 19-20 century, at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi are giving a peek into their unique way of life.

“Skiers”, painted by Sergei Luchishkin in 1926, shows a park chock-a-block with people on skis excitingly navigating their way through snowy carpet. Their palpable exuberance seems to be defying the biting chill of the weather.

Severe cold might have laced trees with snow and shed their leaves but could not dampen the spirit of enthusiasts from coming out of their houses. It’s evident through one 150-year-old painting ‘Winter-Petersburg View’, 1859, by Nikolai Abutkov. The painting gives a slice of life around that time in Saint Petersburg Square--Security men guarding the square, men fetching water from a well drilled through the ice-bed, a woman pulling her load of household things on a sledge, a shopkeeper waiting for customers to come, people sitting on benches and a ship anchored on one end.

Another art work “Winter Shrovetide Celebration”, 1919, by Boris Kustodiev depicts perhaps a market scene where people with happy faces and dressed in their best dresses, are moving about. Some women sitting and catching up with each other, families are going out on decorated horse carts, children are running in merry abandon and hawkers are selling things. It sets the tone of a festival and gives a sense of tradition that prevailed in those times.

Winter is the time that hosts main festivals, including Xmas, Shrovetide.

While snowy winters was the backdrop of simple joys of life for Russians at home, the snow of the Himalayas became the very source of spiritual enlightenment to renowned Russian painter Nicholas Roerich.

Known as Maha Guru and Himalaya’s son, Roerich made India his home in later years of life.
He devoted 1000 canvases/cardboard to lofty mountain range. He drew inspirations from the Himalaya and captured its grandeur and different shades through the day in radiant and clear pink, blue and yellow colours.

An exhibition of his 75 works is on at Jaipur House in National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi.

The exhibitions were especially organized to commemorate the state visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ti India and strengthen both countries ties.

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