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The Arts

Filonovís disciples
By Olga Slobodkina-von Bromssen

The Art-Divage Gallery is displaying an exhibition called ĎFilonovís Movement: from Masters of Analytical Art to Post- Avant Garde.í

Pavel Filonov (1883-1941) is one of the brightest, most interesting and at the same time most controversial figures not only in Russian art, but worldwide. His works never stop to amaze and shock us by the passionate desire of their creator to open at least a tiny bit of the Hidden and the Invisible, which becomes possible only in the imagination of the most sophisticated and brave fantasist.

An attempt at a rational explanation of Filonovís work often confuses the spectator, taking him into a blind alley. Paradoxical, but nevertheless quite explicable, is the fact that such a lonely talent gave birth to a large army of apprentices and followers. The blinding effects of the masterís innovation were like the sounds of the magic pipe carrying away and dooming to death the rapturous admirers. Filonov himself was a thoughtful teacher who managed to give his students the formal devices of his craft and his analytical method, yet only a few of his followers managed to transmute its essence.

Filonov and his followers were collectively called the Masters of Analytical Art, and the school continued long after the master himself had died. What survives in all of the works on display in the exhibition is a carefully guarded and preserved aesthetic of the 20s, an aesthetic which served as a bridge for the later revived art of non-conformism.

The current exhibition is showing ninetyfour works by twenty-four of Filonovís followers. The works belong both to the gallery and have also been drawn from private collections in Moscow and especially in St Petersburg. All of these artists have been trained by the great master in his studio at different times. Among them are the disciples who form the nucleus of the Filonov School Ė Gurvich, Zaklikovskaya, Stibasov, Poret, Glebova, Luppian, alongside less wellknown artists such as Leviton, Krapivny, Avlas, Livchak and Vazhnova.

Most of the works on display are being displayed for the first time. The primary impression is that of diversity, and not only that of different media Ė from pencil to oil Ė but also stylistic. Some works bring associations with Dutch still-lifes (the paintings by V. D. Avlas); some give a feeling of expressionism, for example V. K. Luppian in his works Trees and Before the Storm which are reminiscent of Maurice de Vlaminck.

Interesting are the abstract subject-less compositions by B. I. Gurvich (1960s). If they are not as sophisticated as the works by Kandinsky, they nevertheless mark a further development of Russian abstract painting. More shocking is the oil painting by T. N. Glebova, Easter (1953) created in striking colours where the crucified and naked Christ is soaring above a cold God-forsaken world.

There is much portraiture, and of a very high quality: M. P. Stibasovís 1920s Portrait of Nikolai Kluyev (a well-known poet of the first quarter of the 20th century); E. M. Yemelyanovís Portrait of a Boy (1930); Glebovís Girl with a Rose (1960); S. A. Zaklikovskaya Self-Portrait (beginning of the 70s). They are all different in their stylistic interpretations and insights into the psychological nature of the sitter. What unites them with Filonov is the draughtsman-like construction of the painting, with the colours serving more as a sensual filling. In this exhibition Filonov lives on in Moscow in 2007.

Art-Divage Gallery
December 6 through February 22
3/4 Novaya Ploshad, Polytechnic Museum, Entrance 2, Metro Kitai Gorod
11:00 to 19:00 Tuesday to Friday
12:00 to 18:00 Sat.
Closed Mon. and Sun. T
el.: 628-5870

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