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The Unknown Aspects of Victor Kalinin’s Creative Work

Another exhibition of Victor Kalinin. Its composition is rather unusual; the works on display differ from what we have seen before – most of the paintings are the artist’s early works, created in the 60s; many of them have never been exhibited before. Artists usually prefer not to exhibit their early works - they seem to be ashamed of the mistakes of the youth. It might seem they forget that Picasso became famous thanks to his creative search and do not want to share his success. What is really interesting in young artists is their creative search and sincerity when they strive to conquer the World of Art. Victor Kalinin turned out to be more determined than his colleagues and found the courage to overstep his shyness. The results astonish.

Early works turned out to be very unusual. They are unexpectedly audacious and sincere and at the same time have the characteristics typical of all works of the master. They all bear positive values and this can probably be explained by the personal development of the artist. It might be said that this unique trait was born in a remote Altai village. It was cherished and supported by the sound Old Believers’ family and the surrounding nature. We might suppose that Kalinin’s works are inspired by Surikov’s heritage which could be absorbed in the motherland of the famous artist when Kalinin studied in Krasnoyarsk. Anyway the works of the 60s reflect the artist’s picturesque thoughts. What makes Kalinin unique is his talent to see the Large in the Everyday. His works are inspired by the surrounding nature of his homeland which he loved. He managed to generalize those small pieces into epic figures. And by some fantastic chance he did not start drawing the Everyday. A wonderful example of this is the painting “The One who has Unsaddles the Horse” (1967) where the usual motif becomes a symbol. The subjects of Kalinin’s works might be treated as the ground for the national epos to grow as he manages to transfer national peculiarities and philosophy to other worlds.

The colourful life of Central Asia has always attracted Russian artists. It can be the topic of the whole exhibition or monograph which may be explained not only by the exotica of the material but also by the great variety of bright colours. I am not sure if Kalinin still has sketches of this picturesque life but his finished works are so rich in colour that it cannot but impress anyone. His works radiate the spicy spirit of the East familiar to everyone who has ever been to Uzbekistan. If you look at the painting “Kishlak Kyzyl-Kiya” (1967) you will undoubtedly notice both national intonations and the typical Kalinin’s search of the principles common to all mankind.

The peculiarity of Kalinin’s works of the 60s is definite, sure strokes which let the artist avoid unnecessary details. Everything is part of the whole – of the creation. A wonderful example of this might be the “Laughter” (the Novy Jerusalem Museum): Homeric laughter comes down upon the viewer and shatters the base of the universe; the painting reminds of the chaos the earth was made of.

It might be said that it is the chance that lets us see the works which have never been displayed before. They are not newly made but they do not seem old. They let us judge about another period of the artist’s creative life which cannot be considered less significant than the following years characterized by the works of the 70s that made Kalinin the artist he is now. In this connection me might mention the painting “Father’s life” taken from the Novy Jerusalem Historical and Architectural Art Museum as well as the works of the 80s—90s with generalized images.

Other impressive works of Kalinin exhibited for the first time are the nudes drawn by the master when he was a student. If you compare them with works of other students you cannot but notice the difference. Take, for instance, “The Shadow” - a ghostly silhouette of the model on the bright-red draping. In other works it is the shape and color that plays the most important role. The artist seems to strive toward Serov’s ‘Pleasing’. Perhaps in future this ‘Relaxation’ will result in some other astonishing works.

This concise essay does not contain the description of Kalinin’s new works but we will have the opportunity to talk about them in future. The artist will undoubtedly give us the chance.

Mikhail Krasilin, chief of the Examination Division of the State Institution of Scientific Research.

1946 Born in Zalesovo (Altay kray)
1960—62 A student at the V. I. Surikov College of Art (Krasnoyarsk)
1962—65 A student at the College of Art (N. Novgorod)
1965—71 A student at the High College of Industrial Art (former Stroganov College)
1974 Joins the Society of Artists
1966 Takes part in Moscow, Republican, All-Union and International art exhibitions
1995 Teaches at the Stroganov University of Industrial Art, Department of Academic Art
2001 Elected the corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Art

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