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Russian Generations in Pictures

Paintings by Grigory Kravchenko, Alexey Ryabikov, Dmitry Pyatkin, Ivan Dereberya, Elena Kostenko and other Russian Realist artist

14.11.2009 — 05.12.2009

Faces change with the époque. Our exhibition is focusing on the brightest children images from 1930s till 1990s, on their parents and family life as reflected by Russian painters.
In the Soviet Union everything belonged to the state, including childhood. Children grew up surrounded by official myths, where Lenin’s portraits could replace the portrait of their grandfather, possibly prosecuted by Lenin’s followers. Every playground had a political rhyme; every toy was stuffed with ideology. Amazingly art survived in the paintings of the époque.
Why have we chosen so many paintings with Lenin playing with kids? - Not only to illustrate Soviet propaganda work but to show how artist’s talent could transform this mythological scene to a real moment of real life. You may not believe in Lenin, but it is impossible not to believe in the children's faces.
A prominent motif in the Soviet Union of the 1930s was aviation. Alexey Ryabikov’s large canvas depicts the homecoming of a pilot. Dressed in an immaculate blue uniform, the latest conqueror of the skies bends over his infant son, while his wife and older son look on. The painting sidesteps the official version of life in the Soviet Union, giving us instead a glimpse of life simply as it was lived. Maybe this was the reason why art critics of the time sharply criticized this painting in the catalogue of the painter. The exhibition also includes some striking portraits of children and their parents, hauntingly simple images stripped of rhetoric, done by Elena Kostenko and Zinaida Zatsepina, Vladimir Andreev and Sergey Grigoriev, Fedor Kascheev Alexei Kozlov.
You feel the lapse of time. What else can help you look more attentively at your own family portraits? Maybe later these portraits will reveal our époque for the next generations…