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Boris Kazakov, a captive of eternity
Sergey Masalovich. Translation by Marius W. de Pijper



Sergey Masalovich.
Translation by Marius W. de Pijper.

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Artist Boris Kazakov.
Self-portrait. 1970

BORIS KAZAKOV, A CAPTIVE OF ETERNITY
Internet-version of the article for the site www.kozma.ru

The Twentieth Century. 1956

The Twenty-first Century. 2006

The Last Classic of the Renaissance

A Portraitist of Beauty

The Path of Grace in our Time

Danae as an Eternal Symbol of the Renaissance

The Twentieth Century again. 1970

Danaes Return

Jupiters Gold and the Ancient Myths Prophecy

The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century. Modernity

The Fifteenth Century. Modernity Again

Three Danaes under one Window. The Twenty-first Century. Classics

The Masters Artistic Heritage in three Dimensions of Talent

In the Artists Circumspection

Stages of Development as the Dialectics of Mastery

The Twenty-first Century. It is not Midday yet

Professor Kazakovs School


Boris Borisovich Kazakov (born April 24,
1937, Miass, Russia died June 5, 2007, Saint Petersburg,Russia ),
Russian painter and drawing. Greatest successor of the traditions of the Renaissance culture in modern art. Boris Kazakov studied on the Academy of painting, Sculpture and architecture (Repin Institute) with A. Pakhomov and N. Lomakin and graduated in 1965. He teaches at the faculty of drawing of the Saint Petersburg State Art and Indusrtry Academy since 1967. Professor Boris Borisovich Kazakov is the founder of the modern classical school of painting. The masters works can be seen in galleries and collections of Europe and America.


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BORIS KAZAKOV, A CAPTIVE OF ETERNITY



Sleep not, sleep not, artist
Do not yield to sleep,
You are Eternitys hostage
A captive of time

Boris Pasternak, 1956



The Twentieth Century. 1956

It has been exactly half a century since the appearance of these poetic verses, since the day the artist both the general embodiment of art and the concrete young artist Boris Kazakov did indeed not have time left to sleep. Time was rushing forward so rapidly, at the supersonic, even nearly astronomic pace of scientific and technical progress, that any artist was simply afraid to artistically sleep through our happy tomorrow, which seemed to arrive any moment. Art was try-ing not to fall behind to science, technology and social changes in the dynamics of progress. New means of expression and technical painting methds were worked out from different sides throughout the world.

It was the very time when Jackson Pollock literally poured expression into Abstraction-ism, Andy Warhol mixed art with pop-culture and invented the instrumentary of modern adver-tisement. From the drawings of Wright, the godfather of Functionalism, arose the main deposit-ory of modern art, the Guggenheim Museum. In the Old World the old Matisse, who had managed to give the collage a place among the forms of modern art, had just sunk into eternal sleep. The same goes for Leger, the creator of the image of the industrial civilization as an object of aesthetic perception. But the subject of industrial aesthetics did not sleep and kept those in-volved in our Social Realism awake. It drove all art into its thematic circle, in which Stalin had already been swept off his monumental pedestals, making way for other idols. The old world leaders of art didnt rest on their laurels either: Dali took surrealism to the peaks of religious mysticism, the mighty Siqueiros dynamically crossed painting with sculpture, while the Dove of Peace of his ideological kinsman as well as fellow-communist Picasso merrily flew over to Mos-cow to celebrate the International Youth Festival.

As this lively atmosphere was stirring the world of art, Boris Kazakov, still a student yet an artist already, began his creative journey. He had already had a personal exhibition and was preparing his works for this same Moscow festival, where he, a nineteen year old boy, had been given the honour to participate. It is amazing that at this young age he already had the wisdom within himself not to give away his not-yet-reinforced gift as a tribute to the premature fashion that had totally taken over the minds of much riper men of poetry.

The, not only in those days, widely accepted opinion that art should be innovative only partly holds true. If the artist gets carried away with the novelty of technical means while lacking a traditional foundation for his experiments in his search for his own self, his work will not likely become part of societys cultural heritage. Unfortunately, many hopeful talents lost themselves in this shameful way. But not Boris Kazakov.

This is the very reason why today it is possible to enjoy this artists work. Unquestionab-ly, he shows excellent technical mastery as well as his own easily recognizable creative personal-ity and, along with all the novelty of his creations, remains a clear successor of the deep traditions of the worlds fine art. And not merely a clear successor of the classics in the eclectics of the last decades, but, likely, as such unsurpassed.




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The Twenty-first Century. 2006

Now, after half a century, one can daringly talk about the phenomenon of Professor Boris Bori-sovich Kazakov as an extraordinary occurrence of time. That is not just my personal, emotional assessment of the artists significance. The objectivity of this conclusion reliably comes forth from the analysis of the interest towards him from the side of thousands of fine art lovers. More-over, over time this interest is shown in new forms, materializing in the world as new achieve-ments of technical progress of modern civilization keep appearing. Traditionally, an artists success is associated with exhibitions, catalogues, demand for his work from museums and col-lectors and interest that the mass-media show towards him. Kazakov has all this in sufficient amounts: he does not lack attention from his admirers and colleagues, the press and art connais-seurs.

However, outdated methods make it hard to judge the true meaning of the works, and often those artists are on the foreground, who impress not by talent but by their close ties to the powers that be or their exceptional pushing talents. Now, with the appearance of new interactive technologies in the spheres of publishing and exhibition, the true interests of people are becom-ing significantly more visible. The democratic nature of the principles of internet publishing takes our view upon the world of art to a new level of objectivity. And in this picture the talent of the successor of classic traditions Kazakov does not only stand the test, but even gains a new quality of significance.

A year ago the internet saw the birth of the gallery Art-Petersburg, a window to art, and, subsequently, another virtual art gallery on the creative site Kozma.ru. These galleries represent a collection of more than a thousand works by dozens of the greatest artists of modern-day Saint-Petersburg and Moscow, now being joined by masters from Europe, Asia and America the opin-ion that this is the new Tretyakov Gallery of the twenty-first century is not unfounded. In any case, here as well, the support of artists lies at the foundation; not just of well-known artists, but also of promising ones. And the equal conditions for all participants even up the starting possib-ilities in their appreciation by art lovers. It may seem hard to stand out and to give someone priority in the shining company of renowned artists: here you will find the founders of modern-days avant-garde, starting with historical works, spread by the unforgettable Nikita Khrushchev, as well as the works of the academics of Social Realism, and those of the new ages masters. And nevertheless, among those shining Pleiades you will find an obvious champion of spectator interest. And this leading position of Kazakovs is continuous and unquestionable. From the very launch of the web-gallery, his works have enjoyed its visitors special interest. While the viewing of other masters works is indisputably solid and pleasingly shows hundreds of visits per month, the interest towards Kazakovs pictures expresses itself in thousands of viewings. Such an interest could provoke the envy of many a real and well-known exhibition hall.

So wherein lies the phenomenon of Boris Kazakovs art, seemingly turned to the past, yet agitating a population living among the novelties of ultra-modern surroundings? In the ongoing interest in eternal values, in the perpetual strive to understand the secret of female beauty? Yes, for a major part this holds true. But there is more. The key lies in the talent which this has been done with. And it has been done in such a way that even the word done is not really appropri-ate for the artists creations, although they were made by his hands. They give one the impress-ion that the moment which the master depicted had, so to say, already passed into the endless line of similar moments and minutes, and, as the creator, he took it out of the stream of eternity and left it to us on the mortal Earth.




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The Last Classic of the Renaissance

The titles of many of Boris Kazakovs pictures alone bring up straight associations with the Renaissance era and the canvas of its great representatives. Of course addressing the thematics of old masters is not new, and eternal creators often inspire our contemporaries to a dialogue with themselves. That is what makes them eternal. This timeless communication expresses itself in totally different forms, from the extremely careful attitude to the plot in the Lords Supper by one of the greatest icon painters of our time, Konstantin Ivanov, to the overt parody, applied to our society: Night Watch by one of the modern avant-garde leaders, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, creator of the style of the art-parable.

It is amazing that Boris Kazakovs dialogue with the classics takes place in both roles, both in the artistic language of the classics and with a clearly expressed modern creative dialect. Moreover, these are not separate discrete remarks, but a continuous stream of communication, which, throughout many years, led to splendid series of works that seem to exist in different dimensions of time. One can daringly speak of the creation of the artists own style or even dir-ection which I, analogously to Neoclassicism, would entitle Neorenaissance. It could as well have been called Post-Renaissance, had it not carried such a long, ancient echo of tradition. The prefix post- is dual in this case: the artist at his post keeping the Renaissance tradition. of course, traditions are kept by many people. They include the director of the Louvre, the guard at the Tretyakovskaya Gallery and the author of this essay. But the artist Kazakov may well have the most active and dynamic role in this process. For with his share the process itself, holding within itself the function of keeping perfection, gains important components of renewal and reassessment of eternal values. It is this very time-surpassing alloy of these two elements that gives the masters art the right to the title of Neo-Renaissance. Thus the philologist Dr. Arlen Viktorovich Blyum, a refined expert on word and style who helped his friend the professor of fine arts with the release of his book, remarks: there was no such style before Kazakov; now this word has come to be.

But let us return to the thematics of the artists works: the Three Graces, Danae, Venuss birth, the sleeping Venus, Marys childhood... Immediately the characters from the great creati-ons of Botticelli, Raphaello, Giorgione, Rembrandt, Titian, Velasquez come to life in ones imagination. Involuntarily they urge you into comparing them, thereby showing the highest criterion for appreciation in this comparison.

And it is here that a miracle happens. The paintings of our contemporary easily stand in line with historical rarities. Even before the prying eyes of authoritative judges of genuine art, the beautiful heroes of his paintings do not in the least fear comparison with, lets say, the famous Phornarina or Helena Fourment, who became the prototype of grace, a painting model, an untiring muse, and at the same time Rubenss wife. Moreover, in some cases the opportunity to use modern art stylistics gives our artist the edge over the old masters when it comes to naturalness and dynamics.

Here the respected guardian of conservative traditions, tested by time, will probably be appalled: how can one measure the unshakability of the eternal classics using modern measurements? And he will be right, but only when looking at it from one side: from the side of the modern witness of the eternal stream of time, however strange this may seem. The thing is that before standing the test of time, these very titans of the Renaissance had to face the trial of the progressiveness of their era, which was no less complicated than our own. One should not forget that all of these classics once were contemporaries themselves. In the very same way two or three dozens of our outstanding contemporaries in fine arts will be looked upon by our descendants as the basic classics of our era, who have left eternity a visual sense of its spiritual face. And those who know their names already should not modestly shy away and await the arrival of the next century. It is now that the image of Raphaello has transformed into some sort of art icon. Yes indeed, time has shown that Raphaello is one of the greatest artists, if not the very greatest artist of the millennium, who united in his art all the best of his day and before. Yet he did all this during his life, in which he already was an acknowledged classic, but in which he did not at all resemble the figure on the pedestal. Raphaello liked friends, wine, female beauty, and that is what made his paintings eternally alive.

I will reveal another dreadful secret of the practical creation of an idol. The leading artist of his day, Raphaello Santi, had been a pupil for many long years before he became first artist of the Holy See, which would, translated to the terms of our time, more or less equal the rank of Minister of Culture at a pan-European level. He had studied the depictorial methods of the monumental Michelangelo after mastering the scientific method of Leonardo da Vinci, following studies with Perugino in his youth. Raphael himself also had pupils. They remained after his passing as well: ever since artists have learned from the paintings of the great Italian. That is why there is nothing strange in the fact that, placing the Three Graces of the young Raphaello and a multitude of Graces of other old masters next to the Graces of their pupil, Professor Kazakov, the latter can succesfully be valued by their artistic closeness to the old works. Jokingly Ill point out that the Graces of the professor even surpass their Raphaellian colleagues in numbers: Boris Kazakovs easel cradled the births of more than ten of them: three on a large pencil picture, the rest depicted in pastels, and all of them without exception are marvellous. Which, by the way, goes for all the female figures coming from the artists pencil or brush. This mystery of the eternalization of beauty takes place literally right before our eyes. Not out there, somewhere in the grey-haired fifteenth century, keeping the faces of madonnas that have long since turned to dust on aged canvas without our witnessing participation. Right here, where time mercilessly turns the beauties, whom the master captured in the early stages of his work, into stately ladies and consequently into grandmothers going grey, yet at the same time keeping all their original and unwithering gracefulness on their portraits.




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A Portraitist of Beauty

This goes without questioning: Boris Kazakov is a portraitist of beauty, both seen by him and romanticized by him. Thereby romanticized with such great talent that it stays unclear to whom its credits go: to the model or the artist. This beauty multiplies around the viewer not by the number of graces and models, although their sheer amount also deserves respect, but rather by the characteristic diversity of human nature, which keeps focusing his allseeing eyes at the artists paintings, noticing details in the whole and the whole both within the details and in their totality.

Ever since the days of the great Bunelleschi and Masaccio, artistic illusionism has allowed our threedimensional space to completely fit on a flat surface and on this surface, throughout the centuries, it has overcome a multitude of fantastic boundaries. With Kazakov it has reached a not easily explainable quality of experience, perhaps up to the nervuos interlacings on a molecular level. I may be understood here by someone who has experienced love in such a manifestation when it is unclear whether you are hearing your own heartbeat or that of your chosen one. With artistic mastery conventions and a certain affectedness of Kazakovs artistic techniques, purposefully distant from photographic realism, which he completely mastered when he was still a student, the truth of his works is so strong, that, looking at them, you are not sure whether you are feeling shivers running down his paintings exposed heroines skin or your own. Yet such an effect becomes possible when between the drawer Kazakovs virtuous lines and underneath the laconic yet impeccable colour of his pictures there is something extra, something imperceptive, without which the works of many artists who have professionally mastered depictive techniques, are nothing more than just good-looking paintings. And this imperceptible thing is easily named: his paintings have a soul. The soul of their characters and the fulfilling soul of their maker.

Yes, the painter mysteriously penetrates into the very essence of those who find themselves in front of his easel and, from their unrevealed depths, brings out their happiness, sadness, turmoil, amazement, hope into this world. Living through them in his own way, he embodies them on the canvas, rendering them understandable to the grateful spectator, who within himself senses feelings melting, close to those he has just seen. And this hitting of the spectator is absolute, because the artists knowledge of human nature is immensely deep. Absolutely nothing alien is added. From half a century of conscious creativity there is not a single work fitting into the traditional canons of the now collapsed, but not long ago still seemingly unshakable, era. Neither the jewels among the buildings of the century, nor iconisation of leaders, nor ideology on demand. Only the human essence, so different yet so similar at all times.




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The Path of Grace in our Time

 

From this very ancient depth of human essence, shaped into biblical and classical strata by the Titans of the Renaissance, an era that has passed into history long ago as well, Professor Kazakov brings up and shows golden grains of eternal values to our rushingly progressive age. They remind us of their immortal essence, dressing up their legendary carriers in fashionable clothing or, on the contrary, taking the modern shroud off their passing beauty. The artist and his model form a theme that is both eternal and modern in all times. Of cuorse, these are we thus one of the painters many works on this theme is actually called creating not only our own fate, but also the fate of the new generation. And they are us, created to the well-known image and likeness. Now, attentive spectator, is the very time to look into the picture more deeply. Yes, of course, how come we did not notice this right away?! We, that is simply Adam and Eve right after the first wedding night, finding ourselves on the sinful Earth of our time.

But even that is not all yet. With the panphilosophical heights of the art of the humanists, the historical perspective on modern art in the artists view is refracted into many aesthetic and meaningful layers, shining onto the public the whole visible and imperceptible spectral range for the perception of art from ultra to infra. That is why, independently of the ideological lantern, lighting our way into the future (be this the red traffic light of the bright path to communism, or the light of green from behind the mound of capitalist paradise, or even the gloom of obscurantism in years of war), paintings of this level are light bearers. And as such they are not just visible to people by any degree of waning of the light in the corridors of power, hidden from the people, where the fates of the world are decided upon, but they also help us see an exit from the dead ends in which we often find ourselves. The paintings of Boris Kazakov are condemned to be eternal. There is not even anything to compare them to in our era, thus this is where continuous references to the old masters appear.

Of course, many avant-garde creations will as well be granted admission into the future, many already have. However, the criteria for this selection are still conditional and unclear even to great masters that have come to be in our time. Mikhail Shemyakin was surprised to find that, looking at a display case of a New York art auction, he could not tell whether it contained a lot that would go under the hammer for nearly a million dollars the next day, or the workmen had left one of their sacks behind. The waste dumps of the future will contain many thrown-away millions in the shape of todays works of art, prematurely dubbed masterpieces. And on the ancient museum walls a lot less will remain: eternity will give up on many of todays eminent artists.

If to anyone my logic seems strained or the thought, that Kazakov is already a captive of Eternity and trying to free him from this captivity would be a senseless and hopeless effort, seems insufficiently understandable or convincing; I will conclude my logical outlinings with a last, clearer example. I doubt that anyone will disagree that eternity has two directions: into the future and into the pase, and these directions have existed in all times, as have eternal truths. Looking into the future is impossible: there are no Nostradamuses among us. But slightly extrapolating new truths just a little bit into the depths of this ever fruitfully inspiring lady, immortal throughout the ages, is very revealing indeed. It is easy to imagine how the creations of the masters of all possible kinds of the newest visual trends of the last century would be met, if we were to send them off into that same age of the Renaissance, in which the scales of history were swung not only by humanism but also by the inquisition. About the only artist about whose artistic fate Id have peace of mind, meaning that he would not be burnt at the stake, would be Kazakov. No Torquemada would dare to question the divinity of his earthly Graces and Madonnas.




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Danae as an Eternal Symbol of the Renaissance

Unlike it is the case with the Graces and other classical and mythological characters, Kazakov only has one Danae, but her lonely individuality within the walls of his sudio is not lonely at all in the endless space of art and gently falls in line with her namesakes by several old masters, first of all Titian and Rembrandt. And her being in this company is not at all far-fetched, for with her movements there she logically concludes the psychological development of the ancient mythol-ogical plot. Its heroine, as we know, has been locked inside a dungeon by her royal father, who fears the tragic outcome of a prophecy, according to which he will die by the hands of his own grandson, born of Danae. According to the legend the birth of Perseus, condemned to unwillingly become the culprit of the dreadful emperors death, takes place nevertheless. This happens after the divine inhabitant of heaven, who in those slumbering times was known as Zeus, has been captured by the recluses beauty and pours out his passion onto the beautiful womans loins as a golden rain.

Here it is worthwhile tostand still and take a closer look at the mythological archetype in the eternal evolutionary artistic process, which makes the artist of his era not only its observer, but sometimes also the creator of the process itself.
And so, she was called Danae, this keeper of the image of earthly beauty, however acknowledged as divine beauty and by the highest instance, the only one able to grant her such legitimate acknowledgement. For two thousand years the captive of the eternal plot of the great ancient creator of myths, agitating the imagination of many generations taking in the legend, had been bodiless in the real visual world, until she lay down onto the canvas of the great Titian, after first visiting the studios of Gossart and Correggio. Having playfully posed to them, the legendary captive unveiled herself only from underneath Titians brush. The Venetian master managed to merge into a whole the sublime and the earthly, the spiritual and carnal sides of love. One has to say that with such power, with which Titian expressed this divine-earthly unison of passion by brush, the only one who managed to express it by feather was Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin:

And you, lord! experienced her excitement,
And you burned, oh god, just like we did
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The nakedness of feelings and bodies in modern art that has seen its sights can now roughly be divided into three categories: erotica, sex and porn. But here, apart from the terminology, we have nothing new compared to earlier centuries. Porn used to be a natural element ni heathen antiquity and knows a manifold reflection in sculptures, mosaics and frescoes from those times, but was cast aside by the High style of the Renaissance, which left future success in the field of pornography to our age of innovation. Of course, in medieval Italy no one called Titians Danae an allegory of sex in those days Dantes language reigned in the homeland of humanism and the frivolity of Bocaccio had not yet been decorated with the peculiarities from across the pond of our current cultural lexicon. But in essence, Titians canvas is one of the most overt creations of the eternal theme in the epic of the old masters. This exemplary overtness has found its imitators, among whom Titian himself can be found as well, repeating the succesful image twice more, each time adding passion. Thereby he turned to the later interpretation of the legend by the great Ovid, who wrote under the patronage of Jupiter. Thus the great Titian blessed future illustrators of the eternal theme, showing its inexhaustability.

In the next century Rembrandt found his vision of the image, which didnt work out right away. The original version with the golden rain was reinterpreted and recreated by the master, who thus laid new psychological depth into the sensual image. The erotic prelude froze on the canvas, holding the inavertible back through a gesture by the hand of his Danae. It would seem that this gesture also held the masters of the following centuries off from the temptation to perfect perfection. In any case those few significant, technically impeccable works on this theme came out at a perpendicular psychological angle in relation to Rembrandts. With Tiepolo, on the painting with Jupiter riding a cloud and pouring out a sack of gold, Danae sleeping through this triumphant entry became a controverse: a glorious parody to baroque pseudo-mythology. Girodes painting, on the other hand, provided a great opportunity to eternalize the unquestionable charms of Mademoiselle Langue, exhibited in Danaes name, i.e. under a popular brand, if we apply the terminology of nowadays PR-technologists.




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The Twentieth Century again. 1970

Now it is time to return from our thematical excursus into history with the thought about how hard it is for an artist to end up there. Out there, so many great people have done so many things, that mastery and persistence in the search for novelty alone are not enough. Apart from these things true depth in the understanding of the human being is needed, and underlying ones search, awareness of the depth of the cultural stratum, strengthened by each generation and thus complicating ones own penitration. One has to be a great and daring master in order to move forward, continuously creating between the past and the present under the prying eyes of both, not easily impressed at the same time.

Boris Kazakovs Danae saw the light in the now already distant year 1970 and can daringly be looked at in a historical context. This painting, like much more made by the then fresh graduate of the Arts Academy, did not at all resemble the mostly cheerful works of our contemporaries of those years. It was unlikely to be understood in a time when we were making a genuine effort to turn a faerie tale into reality. Although only very few looked upon the Soviet art epic as serious art, there still was enough to be extolled, and many, if not the majority, considered this important and necessary. According to the census conducted in January of the same year 1970, there were 242 million of us; socially protected people, optimistically marching into a bright future, regardless of the continual errors of our leaders, ever unmentioned yet known to all. The stalinist repressions had by then already become history and the crumbling of the Mighty Soviet Union with the following massive downfall of its people, driven into the chaos of the free market, was something no one could foresee even in their worst nightmare.

I remind the reader that in this now faraway year of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Great Victory of our fathers and grandfathers, West-Germany signed an agreement on the acknowledgement and integrity of the European opst-war boundaries in Moscow. The same year saw the birth of a unified power system for the European part of the USSR, without the participation of Chubays and other future oligarchs who later pocketed the main knife switch of a country that had been created by those same generations that had held victory over fascism. Still in the same year, the Human Rights Committee was founded, and the famous Moon Tractor was taken to the moon, rehabilitating our unquestionable priority in space. And even Stalins bust, then placed on the terrible leaders grave, did not scare anyone.

In our cultural scene in that same year, Tarkovskis Andrey Rublyev, which had already earned a prize at Cannes and worldwide acknowledgement, served up its five year term on the forbidden cinema shelf, awaiting its release into Soviet society in a seriously cut version. And the White Sun of the Desert with Katerina Matveevnas half-bare legs, shamefully covered by censorship, which had been hidden on that shelf for a while as well, had been released to the big screen by our dearest Leonid Brezhnev after it had ended up in his home cinema by chance; this turned out to lead to world fame. Apart from this the monumental sculptor Yevgeni Vuchetich received the Lenin Award for his monument-ensemble at Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd (former Stalingrad) with the grandiose eighty-two metres high statue of Mother Russia, compared to which the Statue of Liberty, taken off its pedestal, would come not much higher than the navel. Finally, Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Back then few felt the instability under the unprecedented building, taking up one sixth of all dry land. Boris Kazakov never was a dissident, just like he was not a maker of hymns to the past era. And to this day his artistic gift serves true art, like it did when he was young, and in the distant year 1970 when Danae appeared one of the hundreds of his marvellous works, among which some had already been recognized by the public and the Arts Academy.




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1970


Danaes Return

Kazakovs Danae can hardly be called bright. On the contrary, in the gallery of his brilliant paintings that set the senses alight immediately, there are works and quite a few they are that do not call for sharp interest right away. And that is understandable. We have not come to see a beauty contest, in Kazakovs studio characters come to life that have been painted from nature, people from real life in all its diversity: there are cheerful and happy ones, as well as silent and shy ones. And it is from the latter category that this herine of our artists has come forward. Unlike her famous predecessors, Danae Kazakova does not occupy a luxurious bed in the centre of the canvas, she is huddled at the edge. She even lacks space there. She is cut in two by the frame and more than half of her body simply is not there. This fragmentation of her young but ripened body, including the part that is essential to the continuation of the legend along with her family; virtually it is somewhere out there, outside the frame, where, along the way, it meets another folk tale. The captive of the legend, ancient like the world itself, has turned out to be a hostage of the myth about the bright future of humanity into the bargain. She is a double captive, and therefore in both captivities we find total hopelessness.

Within this cut-off beauty, acceptable for showing, standing before the realization of perpetual predestination, everything that is outside the frame, obsolete to the modern storytellers, seems to be concentrated inside. Everything, including the bashfulness from the land of faithful female citizens, where there is no sex, blushing on the cheek of the pale apostate of calico ideas who dared to look into a dream with lowered eyes. The dramatism of what is happening is reinforced by the mythical landscape, entrapped inside the frame of the window which in turn is totally annexed from three sides by the black emptiness of the interior of a modern dungeon. Art and life, driven together into the black square of an artificial existence. Yet there is a way out. It is in the centre of the blackness, in the window, which apparently seems to serve only this purpose. In an absurd society with camped doorsteps at the closed doors of the main entraince, the exit is through this strange window without smoking factory chimneys and banners, sending everyone out into a bright but illusory faraway land.

Kazakovs painting is amazing because of its genric universality. This is both a portrait and an interior, as well as a landscape and a still life; it is a genre of its own, both everyday and mythological at the same time. And each of the listed is not restricted to a separate corner of the picture but is taking up nearly all of its space, as if that were consisting of several pictures laid on top of each other, each possessing its own texture yet transparent for the sake of tis doubles visibility. The heroines figure takes up a little space to the right. Yet if you cover up the left part of the painting the portrait disappears. The figure remains, but the portrait, the psychological image, is gone. The thoughts, taking up space, have disappeared from her bright head along with the complex of her own dispensability, her reproach to someone unnamed and who knows what more. The interior also is the whole picture, including our Danae, her being the bright end of a gloomy wall. The still life, starting with the roses in the cut-glass on the windowsill replacing the vase by the logic of fake reality, takes up not only the flat bounds of the dungeon with the also cut swaying of the curtain and the edges of the window frame under it, but breaks out into the landscape behind the window as well. It does not merely break out, it turns that space into a landscapic still life. Reflecting in it, the cut-glass refracts the landscape in the window frame and cuts it to its own resemblance. Not only the landscape has been cut, but also the image of the highest being, intricately created by the artist out of the contours of the hills, the forest tracts, the sunrays, the literal streams of sunlight pouring out over the landscape from the sky and even out of the branches and leaves of the still ife bouquet, carried off by the wind. The old party animal Zeus, lost in the eternal heavens over the atheist realm and wishing to lead astray the Soviet komsomolka* from the true path of building heaven on earth, has also been cut.

And indeed, what place can there be for a diety in times when public catering rules? How many faithful subjects of that cut-glass, timesake and symbol of Soviet Modernism, bowed before it, at the same time drowning on its bottom the triumph of the dawn of history in the darkness of its inavertible results. Practically everybody, from porter to General Secretary, including artists, the hagiographers of modernity and annalists of this triumph, as well as those portrayed by them. Perhaps the heroine of the picture will get the opportunity to take in the 100 gramms, indicated on the glass by the artist, when she will have gotten to the fulfilment of the prophecy in the crude prozaic form of our reality. What for? Oh, just for some courage...

Precisely this vessel used to be the main criterion for the hardest currency of our society, stronger than gold, not only mythological gold but also the real thing: vodka. Admittedly, by the time this picture was painted, the glass had undergone evolutionary changes and, on equal footing with the traditional form, had a more elegant as well. And this is the one cheering up the heroines living cell. But the essence remains unchanged: it saved us, real characters of the main faerie tale of the Twentieth Century, in the illusory dark alleys of our subconscious. Its magical ability to double and even triple the visual surroundings has as well been reflected on the painting. Within the bounds of the landscape behind the window the mythical image appears to take on new intricate and blurred reflections that are perceived subjectively. To think of all which my acquaintances have spotted on the digital reproduction of the painting, both from old and new myth creators, starting with the most ancient Egyptian sun gods shimmering countenance, via Dantes shadow down to the bright baldness of a typical Kremlin elders bust. What idol is appearing to our heroine, is it the mythical Jupiter flashing within the heavenly rays or is another image coming up to her heart in the theatrical Jupiters floodlight rays from Melpomenes stage? Which gold is flowing towards her dream? The wealth of our infinite cultural heritage? Or the mythical gold of the Party, but from real Regional Committees hiding places? And then?

But the Komsomol goddess...
No, that, my brothers, is another story...

Admittedly, this motive of Bulat Okudzhavas** is not exactly about the same other story, but that is alright...

 

* Translators note: Komsomolka = a member of the Communist Youth Committee.

** Muscovian bard, 1924 1997






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upiters Gold and the Ancient Myths Prophecy

However, the time has indeed come to move from Okudzhava to the clinking of gold. Those expecting the ever present critic to discover a gold mine or dig up a gold storage in the depths of the landscape I have to disappoint. That was in the wondrous ages of alchemists quests and the visual revival of mythical heroes on canvas, when the Ttans of the Renaissance were generously throwing down from the heavens symbols of higher passion like sacks of gold to the feet of admiring monarchial retinues. And the power of those bringing gold to life on the walls of their palaces was judged by their merits. It is said that once, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, what was his name again... picked up a brush, dropped by Titian himself. But the then prevailing philosophical paradigm has long since changed. The symbolics of essences, grasped by art in the modern world. are more intuitive, transcendent and vague. In the era of credit cards and armoured tanks neither mortal nor god will go hunting for love with Cupids arrow or a chest of gold, if not just for making fun. That is why for an artist who comprehends the cultural heritage of human civilization, yet finds himself within the framework of current days symbolics, it is extremely difficult to be harmonious. Standing on modern soil with one foot, and with the other no, let us say, the ground of ancient Hellas, long since hidden under the dust of history, and thereby keeping balance and moving forward, is very hard.

I suspect that exactly this titanic harmony, whithin reach of but a few ever since the days of the old masters, pushes the majority of modern artists off the difficult path onto the well-travelled roads of new artistic movements in the search of the newest cultural values that lie beyond. However, they will not find them there because beyond tehre are not any cultural values and there will not be, as long as no one is going to put them there from the past and present. That is why the solitude of the painter Kazakovs Danae has also absorbed the anxiety of hercreator, the Anteus of modernity, carrying the artistic wealth of past ages on his shoulders into the future. His load includes the mythical gold of the ancient legend as well.

Indeed, the new telling of the old parable did not deceive us. Here we find no coins, no bars of gold, and there is no need for them since the picture holds other gold. Let us have a closer look at it. But not from that prosaic side of our existence, from which we entered the frame of this picture the first time to take sympathy on the unfortunate captive. But from the side of the legend, coming to life behind the window frame. Earlier the artistic idea in general as a light bearer had already been mentioned, as well as the exit seen in this very concrete window. It is worth noticing that a window glass has two sides and both are meant for observation through it. What if we were to try to have a glance at the picture from that other side, from behind the window? Let us try to detach from the already seen interior with the glass, rejecting the ascension of thoughts on the theological canons of the atheistic beliefs. Let us on the contrary penetrate into the plot from above along with the golden sunrays. Then the highest being is perceived differently painted in golden streams, and the heathen God shows himself in the image of nature, brought to life by the skilful artist. Indeed, if, as the legend has it, God created man to his own image, then why should man not create God to the image of his thoughts? And in this creative sense God and the artist are colleagues: both are creators.

And the golden streams of sunlight move onward, and, through the shining leaves and twigs of the bouquet, flow down into that very same glass and cast a golden light over the window frame and sill. The curtain of the dungeon, despondent little sister of the Iron Curtain from the great common dungeon of our hopes, is sagging in the wind of mythical changes. This curtain, too, is already dissolving its carefully smoothened steel yielding to the light of the golden stream.

The light gild covers the captives body as well. But we shouldnt jump to conclusions about the wondrous continuation of the old plot. Inside the room it still is as gloomily dark as before. This means that the gentle golden shine is coming from Danae herself! And the most genuine gold of all must be her marvellous hair. The weight of her golden curls can be felt almost physically.. The wind, blowing about the steelish angularity of the curtain with ease, is unable to make them budge. And that is understandable, after all, the metal, craved by those perishing for it, gold, is known to be nearly thrice as heavy as iron.

And now, after this new look at what we had already seen, it is worthwhile to have a glance at the heroines face once more. And whatever happened to those complexes: the sickly blush has made way for a blush of excitement without changing colour in the process. The tears have dried in her eyes, seemingly turned down in shame and now averted from her breasts with the elasticity of overripe pomegranates at the realization of her own irresistibility. Our great classic is indeed proven right: Long lasting sorrow does not lie in human nature, especially female human nature.

And what about the prophecy? Well, it is all crystal clear already. Some young man will be lucky, worshipped by our heroine. A new Perseus will be born. Remember, the one who accidentally hit his grandpa with his discus? He will not miss! How can we know? Well that is how the prophecy was fulfilled! The old man called Socialist Realism, who mistreated his children, is no more. He was accidentally nailed by the still awkward heirs of his former captives. Nailed, motionless, forever history.




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The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century. Modernity

Thank you, modern patient spectator, bearing with this tale. Thank you, modern reader, for your new patience; you will not have to hold on for much longer. Although? Thoughts just keep coming up. About just some painter or painting one does not even put two words together. Seen and forgotten. But in this case Something just keeps carrying on But after all it is not up to an artist to explain what he has painted. His trade is silence. He is not a writer, nor a singer. His language is the line, his music is made up by his colours. He paints and then lays aside his brushes. Wait, silent hero of his, until you get your answer. But will that be today, tomorrow, in a few years time? A good master does not care; if time is patient, then all the more so is eternity!

By the way, about sound. A three-chord hit becomes dull after the third chord weve heard and got it all already. Good music is usually not immediately comprehended, not the first time it is heard, since we can only connect each new sound of the melody or orchestration to what came before; we cannot hear the whole before we have reached the coda. Only at renewed performances ones hearing roams through the whole composition.

Boris Kazakovs artwork sounds like good music. It has many layers and is not immediately perceived in total, with all the austerity of its depiction means, which, by the way, shows this master of modernitys greatness. After all the level of an artist of our times style is established precisely by his talent at showing as much as possible, using as small a variety of technical means as possible.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that in music and painting there are two identical close terms: tone and gamma. Their meaning is absolutely parallel in both auditive and visual perception. In Kazakovs work the colour gamma of every picture and its every tone have been ultimately fine-tuned. Nothing is superfluous, not a single colour dissonance. All this also goes for the colour solution of Danae. But not al has yet been said concerning the depth of this solution.

Taking into account the aforementioned layeredness of the artists creative approach to his work, we are forced to keep returning to Kazakovs Danae and look at her from a new angle each time. Just now, while analyzing the style characteristics of the masters colour and technical means, we acknowledged this work as modern. And that is the truth. But not all of it. Where did this goldish-brown gamma come from, so pleasing our modern eye? Well, on the very same gamma Rembrandts Danae has lain down, with the difference that the square black hole has not yet sucked in the old art and the beauty is locked inside a soft brown rectangle.

But after all Rembrandt did not take his colours out of this air either. In fact, the invention of the warmth of this gamma of gold dissolved in chocolate belongs to Titian. It was he who, having taken the art of pure clear colours to perfection, dipped his last works into this mixture of subtle gradations of those two colours, thereby erasing the bounds between the objects that he took in there. Not understood by his contemporaries, by the end of his life, precisely he was to pave the way for our modern art. He divided all the worlds art into two parts: before him and after him. His Danae, painted before this great experiment, turned out to fall before. And Rembrandts Danae was painted already with the Venetians very means and colours, yet on top of this immersed in the new depths of light and shade and human feelings, discovered by the great Dutchman. In our modern masters Danae we sense the hidden presence of both old masters. It lies in the depth of Kazakovs penetration into their priceless heritage, yet not in imitation. On the contrary, it is hard to find a painting, made to a well-known plot at any point in time, that bears less resemblance to its predecessors. The philosophical depths of the grasp on the perpetual are yet immersed in the psychological abyss of new social collisions and with a new style solution. Here it is, the penetration of the eternal cultural heritage in our times version, understandable and simple.

Returning to the author of our epigraph, who in his main creation overthinks the liveliness of ancient parables, told in simple words, we are bound to agree that his thoughts are applicable to any creator who realizes the link of all times, when he clarifies the old truth with the light of everyday life. These authors words totally hold true for both Borises as well for Pasternak himself and for Kazakov.




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The Fifteenth Century. Modernity Again

Returning to the ancient beautys eternal captivity, upheld by the worlds art, I will say, no longer in justification but, on the contrary, in appraisal, not so much of myself as, again, of the artist, that such a long wandering around a simple painting is in itself a sign that both the picture and the process itself belong to our cultural heritage. This tradition disappeared very recently with the rise of television and video. Before the technical wonders of the twentieth century pictures used to serve man as cinema, television show and photo documentary al in one. In front of a significant sheet of canvas conveying a historical, mythological or biblical theme people could discuss the plot they were all well familiar with for hours, anticipating on or continuing its culmination, promulgated by the artist. The latter himself represented the role of producer-director, giving the dramatic development its impulse in one single shot.

At this point we have to recall the artist who, probably incomparably with anyone else, exercised and exercises influence on Boris Kazakov. His name was and is Leonardo da Vinci. In the same way as it is easy to number professor Kazakov among the painters of the Renaissance, Leonardo can daringly be considered our contemporary. The author of scientific ideas, drafts and developments, such as his flying machine, tank, parachute and other fantasies, realized centuries later, is the Internets most popular artist throughout the years of its so far short, ultramodern existence.

But here it will be about the old masters hidden participation in practically all art of the last five centuries. The long since well known proportion, which he namded the golden cut, attained the status of principle of beauty construction in Leonardos scientific method. This proportion is present and undeniably active in just about all great works of art, starting from Leonardos own mural painting The Lords Supper, which captures real space through its composition. It reigns, not only in depictions, but also in architecture, music, drama; in everything that arises in space and time.

The knowledge of this principle and its skilful application by the artists hand give him an additional opportunity to affect the spectator on a subconscious and a verbal level. The ambiguous perception of Kazakovs Danae can be explained by the artists superb control of these very compositional techniques creating the special structure of the painting. The mastery of the old masters secrets and those concerning the perceptional peculiarities of European cultural tradition, as well as a creative approach to the application of this sacramental knowledge, allow the artist to skillfully control the elements of the space he creates.

Here the artist is a playwright, and the objects and characters he has created continue their development in the plot he has described after his wonderful pastels have finished their work. This is why his picture is seen in a new light each time, initially depending on the spectators mood but in the end by the mood, laid into it by the artists hand. Actually not even laid, but wound, at least from the four-level multi-axis golden cut, characterizing Post-Modernism, and wound up like Hoggarts spiral, the line of ideal beauty of the Classicist era.

The picture is alive. The illusion ov movement it contains is multidimensional and its effects take several geometrical and temporal directions at once. The complicated dislocation of the meaningful centre drives the chaos and instability of the scene, within the plane of the picture as well as perpendicularly to it, both into the depth of the composition and towards the approaching spectator, who is taken aback by his view losing its focus due to the accents being spread out. All this together is in turn sucked into the funnel of the backward turn of the supporting axes of the compositions foreground.

At the same time the spectators eye, ever since the time when the Western worlds most ancient text were written and read involuntarily heeding to the motoric instinct directed from left to right, bumps into the inner picture of divinized nature, running off into this past. But the flight of the mythological ruler is unsuccessful. Dug into the hard rib of the windows aperture he is taken forward along with the aperture, yielding to the artists will. And so he combines his peaceful ascent to the heroine with the gustiness of the incoming wind, swaying the curtain of this theatrical scene.

Hey, who opened that studio window there? Please close it, Danae is freezing.




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Three Danaes under one Window. The Twenty-first Century. Classics

Perhaps the time has arrived to sum up our comparing analysis of the harmony of modern and classical components of the artists work, carried out mainly within the framework of but one of his hundreds of paintings. Enough words have been said, and in the end, our sum calls for an action, performed in a manner that is especially characteristic for fine art. This would be an exhibition. The gallery of one piece of artwork. More precisely: of one character in the work of several artists. To this end it is not at all necessary to request academician Piotrowski to bring a Titianian Danae from the Prado, Naples or Vienna to the Rembrandt Hall and then add professor Kazakovs Danae, who finds herself oh terrible thought two blocks away from the Hermitage. It will suffice to just take a look at a double-page in a book or, on the Internet, at a gallery of the artists pictures. Here, this improvised exhibition already exists. One plot by masters, spread throughout the ages.

In this row of striking psychologism, chronology sorts the canvas with absolute precision and logic. Rembrandts Danae, having appeared nearly a century after Titians, comes immediately to her right here we remembered the ancient Western cultural traditions of reading the visual range. With appreciation she looks at her slightly not even by a full century older reflection in eternity. From the right, and from nowhere else. And even more to the right, in the distance, our modern masters Danae watches over both her predecessors. Time ideally arranged such a spontaneous composition of painters of different epochs of this eternal existence. And if anyone here is now going to rearrange anything and then claim this to be a good thing, then this person has been reading the previous pages in vain.

These three Danaes are like the Three Graces of an illusory mythical canvas, scattered about the universe, and Boris Kazakov;s Danae completes the creation of a new virtual multipicture: a triptych of three earthly graces, born in different countries, by now already whiling away that feeble old woman named Eternity throughout the same centuries.







The Masters Artistic Heritage in three Dimensions of Talent

Perhaps the time has arrived to sum up our comparing analysis of the harmony of modern and classical components of the artists work, carried out mainly within the framework of but one of his hundreds of paintings. Enough words have been said, and in the end, our sum calls for an action, performed in a manner that is especially characteristic for fine art. This would be an exhibition. The gallery of one piece of artwork. More precisely: of one character in the work of several artists. To this end it is not at all necessary to request academician Piotrowski to bring a Titianian Danae from the Prado, Naples or Vienna to the Rembrandt Hall and then add professor Kazakovs Danae, who finds herself oh terrible thought two blocks away from the Hermitage. It will suffice to just take a look at a double-page in a book or, on the Internet, at a gallery of the artists pictures. Here, this improvised exhibition already exists. One plot by masters, spread throughout the ages.

In this row of striking psychologism, chronology sorts the canvas with absolute precision and logic. Rembrandts Danae, having appeared nearly a century after Titians, comes immediately to her right here we remembered the ancient Western cultural traditions of reading the visual range. With appreciation she looks at her slightly not even by a full century older reflection in eternity. From the right, and from nowhere else. And even more to the right, in the distance, our modern masters Danae watches over both her predecessors. Time ideally arranged such a spontaneous composition of painters of different epochs of this eternal existence. And if anyone here is now going to rearrange anything and then claim this to be a good thing, then this person has been reading the previous pages in vain.

These three Danaes are like the Three Graces of an illusory mythical canvas, scattered about the universe, and Boris Kazakov;s Danae completes the creation of a new virtual multipicture: a triptych of three earthly graces, born in different countries, by now already whiling away that feeble old woman named Eternity throughout the same centuries.










1954


In the Artists Circumspection

Looking more closely at the artists work in the dimension of the breadth of his creative interests, it becomes clear that this measure of artistic giftedness is multi-layered, both thematically and in descriptive and technical means. And all this variety multiplies over several stages of his work, each in itself taking up many years. Usually, talking about an artist, we say: this-or-that painter, or this-or-that illustrator. Kazakov cannot be designated like this with just one word and pushed into the bounds of one type of art. Boris Kazakov is both a painter and a graphic artist, as well as a sculptor, and he is a teacher in all these fields. However, on top of this, his so immensely broad, active, artistic circumspection does not know limits within the royally sized circle it describes. The painter and graphic artist Kazakov is a subtle landscape painter, a master of the still life, a virtuoso drawer of sketches and a deep psychological portraitist. He is a diverse stylist of a unique thematical range, stretching from alluringly modern nudes into the mythological depths of history.

And mastery is omnipresent, accomplished with all sorts of technical and descriptive means: sketch and pencil picture, engraving on cardboard, etching, tempera, oils on canvas, monumental painting. In the field of the pastel painting, worked out not just on the traditional paper basis but also on metal, to which he dedicated the latest stages of his work, the master reached heights which are unlikely conquered by anyone in our modern art scene, flattened by cheap fashion. I doubt that over the last few decades anything was created in pastels, more significant than the pictures of his portrait series, such as Rendezvous, The Stranger, the monumental Three Graces and Venuss Birth.

If there is anything more beautiful than those, it must be Sulameth, also by his hand. This picture took two years of the maestros blood, sweat, tears and untiring inspiration to come into existence and many authoritative critics consider it his masterpiece. Recently this work aroused a huge interest at the artists personal exhibition at the Urals largest art gallery in Chelyabinsk. Kazakov was saddled with invitations to give master-classes, at which so many turned up, wishing to get in tough with the secret of creating perfection, that the professor got to lead many classes with a constant amount of nearly fifty pupils.

The portrait leads the artists preferences, and that has its effect on all the rest of his diverse painting. In his still lives, extremely important in his teaching method, the artist breathes life into motionless objects: The Altar of Pergamon, Still life with plaster head, Still life with vase in window.

The Birth of a Form on his painting bearing the same name calls out to Dalis plasticity of time in his soft surrealistic clock. Only here the plasticity is attained by the space itself, its parts in search of the whole. The old masters were having an easier time: Botticelli for instance just went and opened the shell, and Venuss birth had taken place. Constructivism, creating modernity, requires more complicated projective solutions. And even though part of the forms flowing off the desk are already on their way of attaining the softness of a dynamic flow, bestowing liveliness on the rest, the space itself has frozen in anticipation. In the emptiness lies the masters hidden presence; he himself may have sneaked out for a smoke. Or perhaps he noticed the lack of a detail, very important in modern art, in which case his path leads well beyond the boundaries of our urban world, to return with Adams rib, unforeseen by our days engineers of human souls.

Parallel to pastels the artist works with oils a lot. Whereas pastel painting has its limitations in size, on the canvas Kazakov the monumentalist manifests himself on the full scale of a literally major artist. However, the works created with this technique, such as Midday through the Eyes of an Adolescent, or Sleeping Venus and the already mentioned daughter of Zeus, Nymph, are significant, in the first place, not due to the size of the canvas but to that of the talent.

The landscape in different techniques pastels, oils, tempera, pencil, watercolours also occupies a significant place among the artists works and manifests itself in them twofold. Merely depicting nature is not enough for the artist, thus often the characters of his portraits are found inside his landscape paintings.

The painter mastered the secrets of the traditional landscape genre way back in his years as a student. And this can be seen, looking at his Landscape with marble vase, represented in his monography. It is hard to believe that this masterly impressionist work was painted by a first-grade student in 1954. take a look at the leading Socialist Realist works of that time and feel the difference! Sadly, more than a hundred works from this cycle are lost forever. The watercolours, brought back from the personal exhibition in Kharkov, were negligently left in the college courtyard and wiped out by the rain. But that makes the little that is left from those long-gone days look all the more valuable.







1959






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Stages of Development as the Dialectics of Mastery

It is unlikely that the student Boris Kazakov would have thought half a century ago thatsomewhen in the distant future a researcher of the artists work would call his student period his first creative stage. Still this has happened. These were the interesting years of his search for himself, his artistic style, and this search did not go without the necessary luck with his teachers. The gratitude to his first teacher, Boris Mikhaylovich Dunayev, Kazakov has carried with him for all his life, and this becomes clear by a single glance at the old teachers portrait. The master pupil painted it thirty years after finishing college with a warmth that had not at all cooled down over time.

Another fundamental stage in the artists biography is the Academy, the Repin Institute and his acquaintance with the excellent artist and teacher Alexey Fyodorovich Pakhomov. He was the one who recognized a universal aptitude for exceptional portraying in his student. Admittedly, this did not happen immediately; after all, in spite of the already masterly portrait work for his entrance exam, Kazakov searched for himself in different genres. Only after the third grade he ended up in Pakhomovs class. The latter proved able to concentrate his best students talents on his doubtless vocation, pointing his successes in his search out to him. Paint it like a nose with lips on a summer portrait! the maitre kept repeating to his pupil, who at first objected: But that is totally unfashionable! Pakhomovs persistence remained untiring throughout the year and the result, the graduation lithography The Auxiliary, anticipating the artists ripened creative style, became the Academys best graduation work in two years. It expressed the young painters realization of the true meaning of classical art and his passionate love for education.

And it was just this most important science that the age-old artistic high colleges art dedicated himself to. First he taught at a childrens art school for two years, then he started teaching at the Mukhina college, which later became the Saint-Petersburg Academy of Art Industry. This academic teaching stage has lasted since 1967, for nearly forty years by now, parallel to his endless stages of new creative searches and experiments.

The early seventies are characterized by series of engravings and etchings, some of which are represented in this book, graphic pencil and gouache sheets (The Doll). During the next period Boris Kazakov works with tempera. The sincere autobiographical pictures in this technique, The Dream and The Meeting take him to an ultimately frank perception of sensuality, and lead his search for depictive means to pastel painting.

This most significant stage in his artwork is accompanied by the presence of immeasurable depth of conveyed feelings and revelations which the master brought up from the bottom of eternal classical sources. The artist copies Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rubens a lot and, penetrating into the secrets of the Renaissance masters, creates his own exclusive works on a new modern level of the well-forgotten old. Surbarans Memories, Torso, The Duo, The Artist and his Model, Sulameth and Two Skies are pictures of different genres from the early eighties and belong to unique series in the worlds art. The pastels in the masters hand are capable of anything from the most subtle gradations of light and feeling to the turbulence of passions and shadows. Often a landscape, a nearly monochrome misty pastel sfumato, is subjugated to the depth of the disclosure of the portrait image. This new discovery of the artists of an ancient technique moves along from the paintings of those years (Cinquecento) to the huge works of the thus far latest, monumental, stage in the painters art. Here the graces and Venuses have grown to their full size, standing tall, sometimes even taller than their actual height. It needs to be said that the irony that can now and then be read in the tale about the artist characterizes him personally as well. On one of his paintings the portraitist captured himself in the company of two graces; the artists little dog is also present in the same picture, strikingly resembling Titians Danaes dog, which is of the same breed as both animals from Tiepolos painted burlesque and barking at Jupiter himself. This is how casually the picture lane from cultural tradition straight into modernity is realized. And this lane finds its fulfilment in Kazakovs studio, lighted up not only by the light from the windows, but also by his light-bearing colours and ideas.

As we know, a picture is a window to the world. The artists hundreds of pictures are the hundreds of windows of his studio, which he turned into a palace of art with magnificent views upon the world in all its beauty.





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The Twenty-first Century. It is not Midday yet

Epochs are crushed. With great losses of nerves and moral disruptions we were all shifted from the Soviet Union into its scattered fragments on the still unfamiliar and shaky foundation of a new social formation. And much of what seemed significant among the artistic successes of the past era will disappear, much has already withered away among its ruins.

I do not think that Kazakovs artwork is subject to withering, it is not passing along with the disappearance of temporary landmarks, in the same way that beauty is eternal, as are the aesthetic values of Humanism.

Because of the very fact that his art was founded on hard eternal truths, his fragile heroines stood their ground while the loose soil fell away from under the epoch, crumbling into oblivion, and swallowed the pseudo-art it carried along with it. It is due to this that the artists work is still standing on the ancient foundation of humanism, even if that is not where the structure of the new society is moving from the two still withering ash piles of the twentieth century, 1917 and 1991. Not only does it stand tall, it also supports those believing in the unwithering beauty of man. And his graces, his Danae and Venus, who was born of Boris Kazakovs talent five centuries after Botticellis famous Venuss Birth, indisputably arrived in the world of art right on time, like all the artists art. Because the time of the nations rebirth from social cataclysms and economic ruins must first of all be supported by the revival of cultural and historical traditions of civilization.

Looking at Boris Kazakov the artists canvas, one involuntarily thinks of a new wave of the Renaissance. And looking at Kazakov the teachers work, one becomes convinced that this wave will grow into a strong but pure stream. With the appearance of talented pupils and followers and with his school gaining international significance, this personal Neo-Renaissance style of the artists, word of which was spoken at the beginning of this narrative, is now turning into a full-grown direction in art, carrying a two-sided impulse, the school of Neo-Renaissance. To convince oneself of this, one needs but take a glance into the artists and teachers studio.




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Professor Kazakovs School

Remember Boris Pasternaks verses, quoted at the beginning of this article and dedicated to an unknown artist? These remarkable words are so immersed in the poets talent that they would seem to call out to all, and at the same time speak of anyone creating beauty at that moment. However, the same poem contains verses which most incomprehensibly through time are directed at no one else but todays artist Boris Kazakov.

Here they are:

Someone cannot catch his sleep
In a wonderful faraway
High up in an age-old attic
Covered with tiles of clay

If we disregard the social accent in the epithet wonderful, all that remains is in total prophetic accordance. The professors studio, at the same time making up his classroom and on top of this his home, can indeed be found in an age-old house dated back to the days following Peter the Greats reign, located on the embankment of the Fontanka opposite the Summer Garden, inhabited by the ancient characters of his paintings, captured in marble. It is indeed in the houses attic, which has indeed, by now for about fifteen years already, been covered with tiles. He himself covered the roof above the attic which he himself put together and equipped to serve as an academy auditorium.

Not long ago attempts were made to take this attic away from him. At the time when all could privatize their own, our creator was not up for paperwork. That fired back on him. Thank God however, the people didnt give in! well, and the Artists Union stood up, and the authorities helped. The attempts were withdrawn.
And actually the beautiful faraway also exists. No, the genius poet was not mistaken. It is just that this universal faraway has not come yet. But it certainly will. It will surely wander off around the world, coming out of the artists beautiful pictures, from the wonderful intentions of his pupils, just as maximalist as their professor used to be at their fragile age, when, however, the wise poet Pasternak who blessed him was of the exact same age as todays professor Kazakov and his old friend. They too are professors now, carrying their beautiful gifts on to their pupils artists, philologists, poets

Professor Boris Kazakovs teaching gift may well originate from that distant time when he, during the hard years after the war, became a pupil himself. He always lovingly remembers his first teachers at the Penza art college, Boris Mikhaylovich Dunayev and Nikita Karpovich Krasnov. The creative impulse he received there was so swift that right after the first grade he got his first personal exhibition! And, of all places, right in the ancient Ukrainian capital Kharkov!

After college he went to the countrys oldest high art education institute, the Repin Institute Art Academy. This book contains Kazakovs entrance exam watercolour and his first works as a student. What can we say? Only this: in the Northern capital the carefully kept continuous thread of the Russian classicist ages golden heritage, passed on from generation to generation for centuries, ended up in the trusted hands of a young self-made genius from the Urals. From him, the invisible link of time will be able to reach out further.

His student authority as best pupil was reinforced by his graduation work, which became the Academys best in two years and coincided with its 200-year anniversary. This graduation lithography with the simple name Tamarka***, understandable to the compassionate heart, was for some vague reasons renamed The Auxiliary in the press. Oh well, we will forgive the careful censors after all, they did not know they were improving the classics future and reply to them in the same way: No matter how you call a rose Tamarka will be Tamarka. And we will add another classic, the founder of a whole stratum of aesthetics and philosophy of modern art, Kozma Prutkov: Seek out the beginning of everything and you will understand much! But we will not go and correct him, he is perfectly capable of correcting anyone you like.

It was Tamarka who had laid the psychological foundation for those philosophical depths in the masters style, which have now made it possible for him to relate to the acknowledged creators of cultural heritage. By now, one is spoilt for choice by the beauty beckoning from everywhere in the huge gallery of the masters bright works. This beauty will undoubtedly save the world. The old lithography could get lost in this gallery, if it were not for its old age: the young Tamarka has entered her fifth decade. Looking at this work one realizes how important it is to value even the cultural heritage of the close past, still fresh in our remembrance, as its closely interlinked fragmental memories and those close to it keep the whole priceless experience of our shared dramatic history.

It is worth mentioning that the leading person during the process of the formation of the artists talent, his permanent teacher at the Art Academy, academician Alexey Fyodorov Pakhomov, at one time graduated from the Stiglitz College, and his best pupil, Boris Kazakov, having graduated from the Academy, bound his whole pedagogical fate to this educational establishment. Nowadays it is called the Saint-Petersburg Academy of Art Industry and waiting for the return of the name of its founder, Baron Von Stiglitz.

For nearly forty years the professor has passed the secrets of his memory on to this academys students. These secrets had in turn been passed on to him by his teachers and of course by academician Pakhomov, who gave his pupils not only knowledge but also the lifes experience of a person who had still known the life of the pre-soviet era, which seemed like an unreal and fabricated legend.

In our time professor Kazakov has become legendary; after all a person about whom legends are alive has a full right to that status. Moreover, these legends are at times so phantasmagorical that they seem fabricated, however their truthfulness has been confirmed by the maestro himself. Here is one of them: The wave of the Perestroika brought a German to Saint-Petersburg, who bought his canvas cheaply for 100-150 marks per picture and took them to Europe for sale. Having sold a dozen of the masters works for a hundred thousand he came back to receive the artists unexpected reply: Thank you, my dear, for making me aware of my paintings value. You may now buy them for this price!

The professors artistic heritage is valuable indeed, but its price is in the first place measured not in money but as a unique contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage, its re-interpretation, its renewal and passing on to the future in a new, more important quality. Over forty years of devotion to teaching he created a universal school of mastery in art: drawing and painting. Moreover, in pastel painting and graphics he passes on the secrets of art at a height which may have been reached only by himself. His school rose to a European level. At first, pupils from Finland appeared. After that the masters fame moved on, further into Europe. Only to think that now students and artists come to him from Denmark, which once upon a time taught skill lessons to half of Europe. The talented discoverers of this new enlightening path from Danes to Vikings even opened a school in their old centre of European culture, teaching their students fine arts, based on the creative methodology and philosophical conception of the Russian teacher Boris Kazakov.

By the way, the professor himself also still studies. His pupils teach him youthful enthusiasm, while mastery the last classic of the Renaissance can learn from only one artist, our contemporary Leonardo da Vinci.

Last Summer Boris Kazakov was in London. In the National Art Gallery he spent nearly three days standing in front of the only large pastel painting of the genius Leonardo that is left to us. What it was that the distant old master told him, we might find out soon


***Little Tamara, after a girl from the artists youth. There is a Russian folk song in which a Tamarka appears, who is an auxiliary (sanitarka).


Sergey Masalovich, Saint Petersburg Union of Arts director

Translation by Marius W. de Pijper

All rights are reserved and belong to their authors
Copyright 2006 Sergey Masalovich
English translations copyright 2006 Marius W. de Pijper





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