Admittedly, the first steps in mastering painting skills relate to still-life painting. The name of this genre (nature mort in French) speaks for itself: it’s the dead nature, in other words, the image of unanimated objects. On the other hand, there is another interpretation of this conception, such as a quiet life, the life where nothing is happening. However, this so-called dead nature doesn’t mean that it has nothing in common with real life, which could be expressed by using the sets of unanimated objects.
In the different historical periods, still-life as a genre has been treated differently. For example, in Russia, it had been considered until the end of 19 century not as an independent genre, but as a task for painting studies. Only at the end of the 19 century, it became an independent genre and the period of its prosperity came in the 20 century.
As for me, still-life is the kind of art through which it is possible to express your attitude towards the world around us. For instance, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon-Chardin’s Still-life with Attributes of the Arts and such a subgenre of still-life as Vanitas, in my opinion, are by far the most illustrative examples of that kind of self-expression. The themes of still-lives could be different: there are scientific still-lifes (with the attributes of the sciences), floral, and also, the still-life with food and beverages. Admittedly, the Dutch 17-century painters took the leadership in creating food still-lifes, which are interpreted not only as the document of the epoch, but the glorification of affluence.
Impressionism, post-impressionism as well as other art- trend of 20 century made a new impact on the development of this genre. Still-life is no more the copy of the real world, but it expresses the idea and emotion of the artist.
To be honest, I devote a lot of my time to the work on still-lifes when teaching students or painting a still-life myself. In the first case, I try to teach my students using the most interesting examples of the academic pictures, painted by the students or professors, who studied at the St.Petersburg Academy of Arts a long time ago, choosing the most captivating aspects of the Dead Nature. The studying tasks you have to work when painting on a still-life are: the proportions of the objects, composition, choice of the central and the subsidiary objects, colour range and tone of the whole picture. As for me, I try to be beyond the boundaries of formal rules. Nature for me is no more dead when I bring to my studio a fragrant bouquet of lilac, peonies or field flowers, adding to my composition fruits, tableware, and other things I have at hand.
Arranging the object for a still-life, I try to create my aura,dwelling in place my soul. Nowadays we lack in the close connections to nature. Perhaps, filling the deficiency in these connections is the priority for an artist when creating a still-life. The artist gives the opportunity to their viewer to be closer to water, trees, in other words, to the world around us. Working on the still-life, I have to meet the challenges. It’s like a balancing act. On the one hand, I depict the material world, on the other hand, I try to get my message across, expressing myself.
Nevertheless, it’s not only about colour, texture or shapes of the object, but something immaterial. I call this the music of the painting. The still-life should have its tune, its musical harmony. It’s vital for the integrity of the still-life. When summer comes, most people are longing for nature. Some of them go to the countryside; others prefer travelling abroad. All in all, the ardent desire to change their daily routine is that what drives people the most. All they want is to be far from the hustle and bustle of big cities, from offices full of computers and other gadgets without which we can’t imagine our everyday life. Hardly could be possible not to recollect the fragrance of the garden right after rain, the lilac aroma and all the smells which are so delightful and so familiar to us. Unfortunately, all this has become the thing of the past, replaced by the smell of exhausted fumes, expensive perfumes, and other artificial odours, associated with the urban environment.
I’ve always aimed to depict this fantastic world, full of expressing my joy about the diversity of colours, forms and the textures of the painted objects. I wish we could hear sounds and smell the amazing natural fragrances looking at the paintings, but nevertheless, it is not in the power of the artist who only uses the means of visual art. The only option is to use your imagination for this.
The world around us has its upsides and downsides. As for me, like Candid, the protagonist of the Voltaire eponymous novel, I tend to think only about the positive aspects of this world — the best worlds of all the worlds ever existed. This positive message I try to get across through my paintings. It looks like a kind of art- therapy. Why not try this method to cheer my viewers up focusing them on the positive aspects of our life.
To be honest, I don’t pretend to consider my opinions as an ultimate truth, or put any style of the painting above all either. In the different periods of my life, I looked up to different artists from various styles and different manners of painting such as Paul Cezanne, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Mikhail Osmerkin, Sergey Gerasimov and Piotr Konchalovsky. I have always learned from these great artists jumping at the chance to visit museums or exhibitions to study every detail of their works. Realism in art for me is not just the copying of the reality, is the great variety of methods of its studying and depicting.
However unique every still-life is, every piece of art always finds its admirers, in other words, those people who are in tune with the artist whose piece of art draws public attention. It finds its place in their houses, making the interior more individual. It could be a living room, bedroom or study. It goes without saying, every object in the room, whether it be a piece of furniture, householding appliances, or personal belongings, it contains the energy of their owners. So it is with the painting which passes to the people the energy of the artist, its creator.
Therefore, it is of vital importance for an art lover to discover their artist who shares their views about the world, and it is crucial for the artist to find their viewer, accordingly. If it happens to be, the picture is no more a useless thing in your home.