ABOUT PAINTINGS OF ALEXANDER REMIZOV
"…To attract the love of space…”
from a poem by Boris Pasternak “BEING FAMOUS IS UGLE"
Alexander Remizov, as an artist and architect, entered the profession at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, when the world came close to the unknown.
Everything changed quickly: authorities and priorities, design methods and construction technologies, social programs and environmental guidelines; the boundaries of the concept of creative activity were moved apart, “creativity” comes to the fore.
In such a period, it is necessary to have creative abilities. Recall the old saying: “He who builds on loose sand does not make it right.” Remizov had a solid foundation to realize his ambitions. He combined his two original competencies into one: artist-architect.
After art school, he graduated from the Moscow Architectural Institute, however, the desire to become a professional artist did not go away. As a student, together with friends, he participated in the wall paintings of public and private buildings. The first monumental work was the painting in the dining room of the fire station in the spirit of Henri Rousseau. After graduating from the Moscow Architectural Institute in 1983, he began to look for and found an opportunity to collaborate with a muralist.
During the general industrial typical urban planning of the second half of the 20th century, they were engaged in a kind of art therapy, saving a person from psychological discomfort, transforming the appearance of public buildings with man-made works: mosaics, stained-glass windows, murals, color volumetric compositions. For architects, deprived in those years of genuine creativity, cooperation with artists was a kind of outlet. The desire to return architecture to the bosom of the arts was the most discussed topic in the professional environment.
During this period, the outstanding Russian Soviet artist Andrei Vladimirovich Vasnetsov had a great influence on the formation of Remizov’s creative personality. (He came from a family of famous masters of the late 19th — early 20th century Vasnetsov, was the grandson of Viktor Mikhailovich).
It was Andrei Vladimirovich who pushed the young graduate of the Moscow Architectural Institute to realize the spatial and constructive tasks of painting. This impulse led to a new look at architectural creativity: on the interaction of color and form, on their interaction with space, and in general with the environment.
Another significant facet of their creative communication is a living contact with the traditions of the culture of the Silver Age. This led to a deeper understanding of the architectural and artistic principles of Russian art nouveau. In the future, this protected Remizov from addiction to superficial stylization, which was a craze in the 1990s and 2000s.
Joint work with Andrey Vladimirovich Vasnetsov lasted more than one year, and communication until his death in 2009.
The creation of paintings, black-and-white and color graphics, watercolors is as important for him as the design of buildings. Translation of artistic logic through the tectonics of compositional elements is the main feature of his paintings and graphic works.
Remizov goes deep into this world to say his word about it.
He is attracted by urban landscapes, natural landscapes, interiors, still lifes, portraits, genre scenes, fantasy stories. He does not limit himself to any one preference. Often works are added in a series. This is how he refines his observations, his reflections, his formal artistic studies.
This is especially evident in the views of Moscow: the embankment of the Yauz Bridge, the ensemble “Kuskovo”, the bridge in Tsaritsino, the park of the Chernyshev estate, Solyanka Street, Klimentovsky Lane, etc. A person is present as a staffage, as a scale unit. The image is created by the composition itself, its construction: for example, the complex relief of the Yauza embankment — through dynamic angles, the gloomy Solyanka — through static.
The portrait gallery is dedicated to the image of loved ones. Options help to achieve optimal expressiveness of the composition to convey the character of the individual.
One can single out the portrait of his wife and daughter “Two Tatyanas”, separate portraits of his wife and daughter, portraits of Subbotina, portraits of the architect Vladimir Bindeman. The stinginess of color palettes, the laconicism of forms, the minimum of attributes endow the characters with timeless significance.
The portrait of Andrei Vasnetsov is distinguished by the artist’s surprisingly accurately captured appearance, his characteristic pose (1990). There is a feeling of the presence of the interlocutor with whom a leisurely conversation is being conducted.
A whole series is devoted to the image of ballerinas, Degas recalls. Many of Remizov“s compositions are extremely spectacular: ‘Dance”, “Ballerina” (lying), “Selfida” (two versions). The theme appeared because of his daughter Tatyana”s passion for dance art. She is also a character in cute lyrical sketches “Reading’, “Drawing”, etc.
Genre scenes have come into the artist’s work since the late 1980s. Some canvases are associated with monumental painting in the manner of the image. Such are the multi-figure compositions “On the Train” and “In the Cafe” (1988). In them, the generalization of forms is adjacent to the narrative of the plot. A moment is fixed, the interpretation of which is devoid of vanity, this is a frozen freeze frame.
For the most part, the color of Remizov’s paintings is built on sharp differences in dark and light tones. Sometimes the form is built as if there is an invisible source of harsh light: an illuminated fragment and a deep shadow. The collision is more like a hardwood engraving. There is also a game of “three colors”, when the form is based on the shades of the three basic colorful units. As, for example, in a still life with a bookcase (1989).
His coloristic experiments are original, where he combines green color interspersed with pink tones. This is a series of composite portraits: the wife’s parents (“In his garden”), daughter and wife on the terrace (“Readers”), self-portrait with her daughter in the park (“Balloon”). Clear silhouettes of figures on a neutral green background, as a symbol of summer. Moreover, the manner of depicting figures and attributes is diverse.
In the creative manner of Remizov, a connection can be traced with the spatial and compositional principles of constructing the works of Vladimir Andreevich Favorsky (1886-1964). The multifaceted personality of the outstanding master of the 20th century, as well as his theoretical statements, had a great influence on Soviet monumental painting in the 1960s-1980s. Favorsky’s circle included Vasnetsov and a number of other Moscow muralists, so there is continuity.
It is important to note that the simplification of forms, the tendency to give them some geometric certainty does not deprive Remizov’s work of life. He “translates” his impressions into the language of art, reproduces his personal truth from the outside world.
Numerous travels from his student years were a source of knowledge for him. Trips around the Soviet Union — the territories of peoples whose history intersects with the traditions of the inhabitants of all four corners of the world. Then the geography expanded, global opportunities opened up.
An artist-architect, he saves his many travel sketches, whether they are pencil drawings or watercolors. Probably, they not only remind of what they saw, but also suggest thoughts: why this landscape, why this house, why this angle? A fresh analytical look can reveal what was previously hidden in the depths of the subconscious, inspire something new.
In 2020, Remizov creates several works that are inspired by the images of ancient Greece. These are the myths of Narcissus and the Sphinx. The choice is not accidental. Both are so deep in meaning that their interpretation is relevant to our day. How often and here the artist makes options.
Narcissus’s narcissism leads him to death, but his illness is punished by the goddess of fate Nemesis at the request of women rejected by Narcissus. Oedipus guesses the riddle of the Sphinx, and thereby destroys him. But there is another version in the satyr drama of Aeschylus, where the Sphinx himself guesses and where both answers are disastrous for him. In the hand of Silenus is a bird, he asks the question: “In the hand is dead or alive.” You can leave the bird to live, or you can turn your neck in an instant.
In 2019, the composition “Past and Thoughts” appears. At first glance, the title refers us to the autobiographical novel by A. Herzen, written in the middle of the 19th century. But is it? In the foreground of a group portrait is a character (the author himself). His posture evokes the sculpture “The Thinker” by O. Rodin, and perhaps a character from Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment”. Behind the title, behind the black and white color of the picture, there are hidden philosophical reflections.
For the intellectual Remizov, Favorsky’s thought about the dual task of art is close: on the one hand, this is the knowledge of reality, and on the other, it organizes reality, real space with plastic forms. Finding the integrity of creativity and the world is an ideal, its path to perfection.
Member of the All-Russian Association of Art Critics