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Chelyabinsk Region Picture Gallery
Exhibition "Shining Russia": From the idea to its realisation. The concept and exposition

G a l i n a   T r i f o n o v a
Deputy director of Gallery

The atmosphere in which a modern person has been living for last ten years is far from being serene. Living on the border of times, centuries, milleniums a man foresees spiritual renovation and enlightenment, fills with creating force but at the same time we are all witness of low life energy and exhaustion of spiritual resources. The crucial final is felt everywhere. Museums have been for two thousand years and will continue to be one of the generators and sources of spiritual energy in Russia. Collecting, studying and exhibiting monuments of the past and present museums are called to connect the torn time, connect epochs, restoring inner world and integrity of culture.

At the times like ours, in the search of safe that is longed by Russia and its people it's natural that we appeal to starting moral and sense basis of the Russian civilization, influenced our culture from early times: the Truth, the Kind, the Beauty. From ancient times till our days these values have been very important for Russia. Their universe and out of time sense is actualized by the culture that never gets old.

These shortly named motives dictated by troubles of our life, the pain for suffering man, for Russian culture inspired the idea of this exhibition. We wanted to present old and young people in museum halls surplus splendour and spiritual wealth of Russian culture from its fundamental principles going back to the depth of ancient centuries and continually appearing from the past and opening like the face of icon, appearing due to anxious and correct paintbrush of the icon artist, those principles that rise the Russian culture to the tops of its flourishing in the Golden and Silver Age. We wanted our spirit to rise in admiration and complete in mind building up the great building of the Russian culture, Russian sole using those unique monuments that were saved by the time and people, several generations of people working in museums, passing them from hand to hand, saving them for the sake of the future.

Esthetic prolegomena to the exhibition also come from fundamentals of mentality of the Russian civilization. Slovene and inheriting it Russian culture live with festive feeling of peace where the man feels himself in the harmony with the universe. People win hostile forces with their love, joy, and beauty and transform grief into flowers of joy. That's why subjects of flourishing, love to the gold, glittering colours are so popular with Russian people.

Though the name of the exhibition doesn't seem to match feeling of Russia of these days it raises the image of Russia so high, to the very sun. In this there's ontological and being aspect of Russia: the world is sunny area, the sun is life. The light of the sun, its shine provides cosmological cycle of the life, repeating and endless, living forever.

As a Christian thinks the light is coming from the creator of the universe-the God. In the Russian people's culture cosmological is inherited by Christian. In U. Chaadayev's book, one of the first Russian Christian philosophers, prepared Russian religious Renaissance of philosophy of 19th-20th centuries we read "The mankind always went ahead only if the divine light shined its way". Cosmological, religious ideas cross with historical artistic ideas. The Golden and Silver age of the Russian culture as two for uses, two celestial bodies on the skies and on the branches of the cross. Ontological, esthetic and spiritual have coincided. Searches of the truth and the beauty in the Russian philosophy and spiritual culture are not distinguished. The art in Russia has been traditionally the embodiment of the dream about perfection: the nature, the world, the man, the man's life, his surroundings, the dream about the Golden Age, about the heaven city, about the God's reign on the earth, about the gone heaven.

Succession and continuity, universality and aspiration to the future, richness of ideas, expressed plastically in stylistic variety of Russian art culture demanded space design in the exposition that would focus peculiarities of periods of Russian spirit, embodied in consequent stages of art culture, through symbolic environments-key centers, containing selected monuments-signs. The structure of the space of the exhibition is built on these key centers:

  1. Peasant House. Christian Temple. Slavonic and Christian cosmos. Continuity and identity.
  2. From Rus to Russia. People's, Christian and European - the attempt of synthesis.
  3. Peter The Great term. The beginning of St.Petersburg period of Russian artistic culture. Peter and Holland
  4. The Golden age of the Russian classical culture. Russia and Europe. Pushkin time. The world of Russian countryseat. Russian art of the middle and the second half of 19th century.
  5. Russian art of the middle and second half of 19th centery. Fate of Russia and image of the nation. Human and divine matter in individual.
  6. Historicism -- a short plastic catalogue of artistic styles of the past epochs.
  7. The Silver age of Russian culture. Symbolism. Impressionism. Sezannism. Cubism. The birth of the Russian advance guard.

Coming to life from the plot, the structure of the exposition let involved in its space practically all the collections of the Picture Gallery: people's, decorative-applied art, old Russian, Russian, West European art and the art of the East. In the exposition there are practically all kinds of the "second nature" - space arts. Creating key centers, we least of all thought of the reconstruction. We put the task of reaching coordination due to reminiscences, mental building up of the historical and artistic ide of the environment.

Stages of spiritual and plastic synthesis of Russia is not only the Peasant House, Christian Temple, but Russian country seat as well - the world where the nature and the man are joined, the environment as if built by two creators, by the God and by the man, imitating the God: the house, the portrait gallery, the architecture, the park, the sculpture and park constructions. Living one's own life as the echo of ancestors' lives, gone peoples, gone civilizations, nature round circles and as the confirmation o all this is the birth vault and memory avenue, ruins and statues.

Spiritual, artistic, philosophic life of the country seat, specific creating atmosphere, cultivated by the man are the lap of Russian noble culture, oasis of the spirit, beauty and creating work where there goes the process of maturing of the spirit for joining with the world and ancient history of people and their close ancestors.

Russian countryseat connected Russian traditional way of life with high European culture and art, with European way of life and communicating. The image of the ceremonial hall of town and country seat, being born in the epoch of baroque in the time of its blossom and the blossom of classicism with its portrait halls, ceremonial dancing halls and modest study rooms is reached due to getting maximum free space, furniture put against walls, paintings hanged in many rows. Taking into consideration the varied ch racter of the expositional aim we should notice that works of Russian and European schools are clearly differentiated. There was done an experiment of espalier arranging of the top of pictures of Holland, Flamand, Italian, French, German, Austrian artists of 17-18th centuries, indicating European character of Russian artistic life of the Golden Age, connected with the birth of Russian noble culture - the time of natural contacts with European culture that is underlined by the placing of pictures of Russian chool in two low rows, being in natural field of vision.

In the big hall there come together rays of previous and following stages of the Russian artistic culture. Pushkin theme takes a special place among the subjects. The stimulus for the plot of the exposition became the 200s anniversary of A.S. Pushkin and K.P. Brullov.

The theme of Pushkin in this hall is like expanding universe. The fate of the poet, his contemporaries and that time art, highly determined the space of culture, all this is a flying flood, inspired, enlightened, artistic, shone by the genius of Pushkin - the sun centre of Russian history according to words of a Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin.

The space of the hall of the art of the middle and the second half of 19th matches its epoch and determines its main directions and phenomena: academic painting, peasant genre of early romanticism, reinforcing critical realism, searches of spiritual Christian idea and the image of Russia through the space of its nature in the landscape.

Historical thinking firstly acquired due to the historian Karamzin and Chaadayev, the first Russian philosopher of history makes to look at Russia, its past and the past of all the mankind in a more detailed way, into the depth of the centuries and beyond European world. Thus there appears historicism, general style of all the styles, a polystyle of 1820-1890-s, preparing the last original general style in the history of Russian classical culture - modern, that was also widely spread.

Mental activity in the Russian art of the second half of 19th century is concentrated in painting and first of all in the painting of travelling artists that presents the sharp contrast to historicism by its deep polemic sense, loquacious character, the desire to grasp all the Russian reality by its reflection. This brightly expressed democratic sympathetic to simple people direction has something in common with the literature of critic realism that reached its climax at this period in Russia, as if coming ack the originality of the Word as a Divine Logos to Russia, and gave birth, like the painting many, to many important talents, having become, like artists, spiritual authorities of the nation. The wide view of various phenomena of Russian life reflects positive thinking, captured Russia and Europe and the richness of Russian sole in all variety of worries and tempers that can be found in the drawing.

The border of the centuries - the Silver Age even in our shortened version because of the lack of halls sharply contrasts with previous travelling artists by the quality, brevity, beauty, and New World perception. That freedom, wideness, daring thought giving the man and the artist the chance to look inside and beyond the limits that hasn't been opened yet. The last hall of the exposition is filled with delightful mood. Going out and coming back to the cosmos where the world of an ancient Slovene came from, experiencing the stages of transforming spirit, moving to the sign-symbol, grasping structures-senses of internal knowledge of the world in its strike to integrity. This way the giant turn of the Russian culture comes to its end in the beginning of the 20th century.

The image of the Golden and Silver Age of Russia, the Universe, moving away during the 20th century and unexpectedly shining on the eve of the 3d millenium very close as if a newly brightened star- this can be the feeling of the visitor, having seen the exhibition from the start to the end and leaving it with enlightened and loving eyes.

I think that this approach is actual and modern in the study museums. For the last ten years art museums have organized its exhibitions in a way that the time, pulse of the epoch, people, events, the world of things, all become the portrait of the epoch. The following exhibitions are of this category. "Peter the Great and Holland", "Yekaterina the Great", "Symbolism" , "Historicism" in the Hermitage and expositions in Chelyabinsk Picture Gallery: "the Cosmos in the Russian icon", "Modern: the look from the rovince". The art in these expositions presents the life building force, creating, and inspiring the world on the laws of the artistic truth, the Beauty. The mentality of the Russian people is reflected in the way that all directed to the transformation of a man and the improvement of the world is concentrated in artistic form filled with the meaning and the sense. If this type of connection with the world is lost in the West, one of the missions of the Russian culture becomes to safe artistic as the guaran ee of integrity of creative nature of a man.