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статьиVasily Koroteyev

Vasily Koroteev. Sparrow Hills, 1950s

At these times his body could sway from side to side before the easel; he rocked toward and from the easel, as if trying to fall into rhythm with the state of reality being recorded in the painting. He was meditatively immersed both in himself and in the work, literally experiencing the resonance, the concordance of what he felt with that which he saw as a state of locality.

That day, locals went into the forest and in a clearing they saw a strange man wrapped in a white shawl, shaking his head and making incomprehensible movements with his arms in front of a sketch-board holding a large sheet of paper as if he wanted to make note of something on the sheet and was denying his own intentions, as if he was searching for something with his hands, catching on to something and then backing away, having decided not to do what he’d planned. Not knowing what to think about that which they saw, the dutiful citizens felt that they ought to inform the militsia (police); Koroteev was taken into custody and placed in the identification department but was released soon after. This incident was the subject of jokes in the family.

We can see well what sorts of labors are required by an artist’s work.

To be more precise, he regarded work as a process which required that a person constantly be in a somewhat twilit, fringe realm where the numerous subtle movements of the world are felt. The distinctive quality in Koroteev’s paintings lies precisely in the fact that they put forth and make visible these subtle movements. This is no figment of imagination. We call them ambiance and states of being; they force a passerby on Sparrow Hills to stop and look through the shadows of plants at the geometry and color of the other shore, to see the color that unites the sky with the river of melting ice and snow or to hear the uneasy harmony in the graphical rhythms of the black trunks of the tall, naked autumn trees and to note that the customary way of seeing things begins to change. This person notices the unity that connects him to something that he calls nature or calls nothing at all because this name isn’t in his lexicon; it is something that simultaneously exists within him and outside of him, something that is opened to him only once he discovers his own openness.

In Koroteev’s system, the artist must become a very finely tuned receiver that is always turned on in order to note not only that which is moving but also that which causes the movement, which brings the world into motion. He notices the elusive building blocks of the world which is close to the emotional state of place and time but is not limited to them. His works are very poetic. They are constructed from a complex rhythmics of paints, of color, from unexpected breaks in the brush’s movement and they truly do alter the customary way of seeing a familiar place, as a poet alters the customary rhythm of every day speech. Sometimes Koroteev’s landscape painting coincides in an amazing way with one of Andrei Bely’s description of somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow: “Broken earth; gullies; pesokh prolysaya; and thick-grown forest; it is pasture-land for sheep; here is the char of bonfires; and scattered pits; and a child rides a pink horse through a puddle of purple; on a slant; and cut stone; and red clay.”

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