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Prof. Dr. Anatoly Kantor

About Sergey Zagraevsky’s art and not only about it


 Sergey Zagraevsky Italy

Sergey Zagraevsky. ITALY


Pictures by Sergey Zagraevsky can be assigned neither to realistic art, nor to folk art, nor to the naive (amateur) culture. From the realistic painting he is distanced by the habit of writing in open color, putting the layers on the canvas immiscibly, hence the harsh combination of basic colors. The lack of spatial perspective is also seen, as of the geometric and architectural, so of color one, either color spatial plans or the modeling of spatial relationships using warm and cold tones. The basis of folk art the unshakable tradition ("Collective unconscious"), signs of which, of course, we do not see in Zagraevsky’s works.

From amateur art Zagraevsky is distinguishes primarily by the fact that he has seen too much good art. And there is also a very interesting difference: in the pictures of amateur artists of Russia gray, gloomy colors of the middle zone of the country dominate, but Zagraevsky strongly prefers blue, yellow, red paints of the Mediterranean.

There was, however, in southern Hungary a wonderful "naive" painter Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry, who died in 1919: he wrote the kinds of happy sunny southern cities. Sunny southern cities have not disappeared, they exist now too, but famous Naples, Barcelona, Marseille do not seem happier than northern cities like Stockholm, Antwerp or Tallinn, rather the contrary. True, there are amazing southern cities - Nessebar in Bulgaria, Tarragona in Spain, and they still maintain the atmosphere of happiness. The naivety of Kosztka Csontváry’s art lies in the fact that his paintings, which are collected in his personal museum in the town of Pec, exude the atmosphere of happiness. But the pictures by Zagraevsky do not have the necessary simplicity of the genre: there is the South, there is the sun, there are bright colors, but happiness does not live under those rooftops.

The main feature of Zagraevsky’s painting lies in the fact that it does not belong to any of the main cultural types.

Do not, however, think that this unique case in the professional art can not be found in ordinary life. An architect, engineer, mathematician, dancer, historian takes the brush, because there are issues which deeply concern people and are most amenable to the presentation by the means of painting. The huge complex state of Ukraine has only one common language understood by all the inhabitants of the country – painting. Anyone who wants to appeal to the whole nation should learn painting. Siberia now lives with pictorial images, people, who never trained in painting and were not experienced in that before, paint pictures.

The need to express themselves, their attitude to the world, their vision of the world, their ideals induces a great many in the modern world to apply to painting.

This new situation makes the assessment of painting very difficult. Painting is an art that requires a special skill, otherwise it is a painting for oneself. But as a means of communication between people, it requires other qualities, hence the success of many artists whose paintings have low or doubtful quality, but their art has much to say to those people for whom this art is created.

Feature of the paintings by Zagraevsky, from this point of view, is that there is made no choice between the desire to write high-quality pictures and the desire to make his thoughts clear and to find his audience. However, such choice is not mandatory. The concern, which pushes Zagraevsky to painting, can be read even against his will. People will understand this concern in different ways, will wonder about its causes, and will try to understand what emotions lie behind the outwardly affluent kinds of beautiful southern cities.

Well, Alexander Ivanov or Polenov also aroused similar feelings, and the public argued, and critics expressed their suspicions. For our time, full of problems, this is understandable, as this is understandable when we remember the 40th or the 70th of the last century.


Published in Russian: «Арт-газета», № 46 (77), 2002 г.