Apr 28, 2021
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Power of paint

“And here in full force of paint directly from the tube. So that everything merges, twists … “

Tatyana Mavrina about the artist’s work.

My first contact with the poems of Alexander Pushkin was the book “The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Heroes” with drawings by Tatyana Mavrina – her original handwriting engraved in my memory and since then has been associated with the concept of “Russian”. Subsequently, I learned that my childhood sensation is true. “Until I wandered around the Moscow streets, looking at all the antiquities, I did not go around the old cities; did not look enough folk art in museums, books, in villages; I didn’t draw all this to my heart’s content, I didn’t take to fairy tales, ”Mavrina recalled and added that she was“ studying her nationality ”. Russian about Russian and in Russian. Even the name sounds like a tale – Tatyana Mavrina. Immediately one sees a long braid and gold-embroidered warmth, mystery, smoothness and, as Alexander Blok put it: “And you are still the same – a forest, but a field, / Yes, patterned to the eyebrows.”

But the reality is more complicated – in all self-portraits we see a dynamic and self-confident woman – sometimes with a perm haircut fashionable in the 1930s, sometimes in a post-war hat and a coat with an astrakhan collar. Photos from different years depict a contemporary of those rapidly changing eras that flew like whirlwinds in the 20th century. She lived a long, interesting life, worthy of a biographical novel about the search for harmony.

self-portraits of different years

The State Tretyakov Gallery opened the Ode to Joy exposition, where for the first time in many years (and the last major monographic exhibition was held in 1996 in the same Tretyakov Gallery), all significant works by Mavrina, a realist and storyteller, who since childhood have passionately loved Russia, are presented. Everything she did was immediately filled with breath, sun and light, kind-hearted humor, and the greatest horror lurked for her in “… the impossibility of drawing what you see.” The artist had a kind of phenomenal sense of color – similar vision was that of Robert Falk, one of her mentors: “I have been hurt by color since the time of Vkhutemas. And now I will not write if I am not interested in the color scheme. ” She told about everything that she observed through the awareness of color: “Nice, with a wide red wave of the gate, a brown-red church on Yakimanka. Cozy on Ordynka. Black domes and brocade gates at the Donskoy Monastery. A pink-purple tall church on Donskaya Street. Or like this: “A quiet, very landscape evening imperceptibly turned into a half-white night. All the white walls shone a little lemon white, everything else is dark as hell. “

The same age as the century, Tatyana Mavrina was born in the family of an intellectual raznochin Alexei Lebedev and a poor, but noble noblewoman Anastasia Mavrina. Both taught, played music, were not alien to literary and artistic delights. The scene is Nizhny Novgorod, the heart of merchant Rus. A rich and well-fed, but generous city. The All-Russian Fair – a local analogue of international Expo – is chic and bright, multicolored and forbs, the scarlet-gold shawls of merchants and the pale silence of aristocratic hats. Tanya Lebedeva grew up in this richly spicy atmosphere. Like all gifted masters, from a young age she painted, encouraged by her parents, who did not at all consider that a girl’s lot was early marriage and “chaste” illiteracy.

After the Revolution, the Lebedev family moved to Moscow, and Tatiana entered the VKHUTEMAS – the main forge of Bolshevik talents. I took on everything – from the composition of one of the Vesnin brothers to working with textiles. Vkhutemas science is not academicism, but a constant test of oneself in art. Students moved from mentor to mentor, changing direction, playing with styles, and as a result Mavrina will say: “Despite many years of study (1922-29), we are all self-taught. They studied mainly in two galleries of French artists: Shchukinskaya and Morozovskaya. Happy years. ” Nevertheless, in this “continuous fever of everyday life,” as Vladimir Mayakovsky shouted, future geniuses crystallized. Mavrina’s first works are still awkward and imitative. There is a sea of ​​shocking in them. The exhibition features a number of still lifes and landscapes in a sort of Parisian spirit, and quite frank “nudes” for which she was severely scolded in the newspapers.

Even during her studies, Tanya took her mother’s surname – Mavrina, as a more sonorous one, so as not to get lost against the background of the Lebedevs, numerous in Russia. She married an illustrator – Nikolai Kuzmin. The young couple took part in the work of the “Group of Thirteen”, uniting with the typical formulation: “The search for a plastic language adequate to modernity” and “the fight against academicism – old and new.” Their events caused controversy and amusing scandals, and Tatyana Mavrina herself received an angry response in the magazine “For Proletarian Art”, in No. 6 of 1931: “Mavrina continues the traditions of Matisse, this is especially felt in her painting” Lady in the Bath “. But if Matisse had sharpness, colorful freshness and originality in interpretation, then Mavrina had pallor, mediocrity, insolent and undisguised bourgeois eroticism, rotten bourgeois aestheticism. ” She did not hide that she prefers impressionism and post-impressionism.

In the 1930s, Mavrina led, in fact, a bohemian lifestyle, earning money in children’s publishing houses, where her husband, who had a solid clientele, arranged for her. At the same time, Kuzmin and Mavrina began to collect icons, a number of which are also on display. A new period began in the artist’s work – she found her unique style, as if the Firebird had grown wings. This coincided with general trends in Soviet aesthetics, when noisy discussions and cosmopolitan “-isms” were replaced by classical forms and national identity.

Separate page – Moscow-military. Moreover, looking at these fast and airy drawings, it is impossible to understand that a great battle is underway! Only the dates – 1943-1944 – signal us about hardships and hardships. Where did this series come from? Mavrina was afraid that the stunning beauty could be destroyed by the bombing and undertook to sketch everything that was possible – churches, alleys, mansions. She literally ran around the city center and recorded every corner of the old Moscow life. It was strictly forbidden to paint objects – any person with a sketchbook and paints could be mistaken for a German spy by the patrol, and therefore the artist secured permits. So her watercolors remained in my memory – the Church of the Ascension in Kadashi, All Saints in Kulishki, the Church of St. Philip near the Arbat, houses, lamp posts and silhouettes of people.

After the war, Mavrina turned to fairy tales – to Pushkin’s, Russian folk, European and modern. Her illustrations are a mixture of popular prints, icon painting, avant-garde of the 1910-1920s – everything that made up her personal and creative background. The exhibition features familiar book spreads. Everything in bunches of mountain ash or snow dust. Princesses in kokoshniks, ruddy knights, palaces resembling jewelry boxes, transcendent Phoenix birds and ordinary crows. And, of course, cats. Looking for an image for the Scientist Cat that wanders around in a chain, Tatyana Mavrina spent a long time choosing his character: “I am making such a long list of all kinds of cats in order to better imagine Pushkin’s cat. He is a prophetic cat, scary, but not hostile to Pushkin. “

Her collaboration with the child and youth writer Yuri Koval, a man of a completely different generation, is amazing. However, their tandem was miraculous. It’s all about the color! Koval is an impressionist storyteller, his every thought is a mood, shade, nuance. Another important Maurin cat – this time, spring and yellow-eyed. He is the character of Yuri Koval: “Spring has come, mother-and-stepmother and forget-me-nots have bloomed, snowdrops have appeared under the brown roots of the forest, and a cat suddenly blossomed in the next house. The cat’s whiskers turned blue with snowdrops, the eyes were gilded with the mother-and-stepmother and the leaf of bird cherry, and white willow catkins appeared on the paws and on the chest. Painted, blooming, he lay on the new grass, sat on the old fence, shone with his eyes on the roof of the shed. ” Only Mavrina was able to reveal this fantastic creature at the time of flowering.

The artist loved not only Moscow and her native Nizhny – she liked all Russian cities, without exception. She traveled with a notebook, noting all the new pearls and diamonds. Poppies, platbands, streets, cars. Air! Her sketches of the 1950s-1970s, even with Volgas and telephone booths, still seem ancient, as if straight from the chronicles. But most of all she was drawn to Abramtsevo and Sergiev Posad – these places she came up and down – there is a Russian spirit, there is a smell of Russia. For the thundering glory, she did not stretch and was not one of the “court” painters. She received the State Prize in the mid-1970s, when several generations of Soviet preschool children grew up on books with her tsarevich-kingsich, and she was given the Honored Artist of the RSFSR in 1981. Until the end of her days she lived intensively – scenography, painting boards and glass bottles (they can be seen on exhibition stands), fabric patterns. She was modest in her intelligent subtleties: “I do not undertake to define what is creativity and what is craft, skill, skill, self-expression. I write when it’s light. ” She died in 1996, having lived for an eternity. She was nourished by the power of color.

Galina Ivankina

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