The centenary of the birth of Alexander Yashin, poet of Vologda and famous figure of literature and art in Russia, was celebrated on March 27, 2013.

The personality and creative work of poet and prose writer Alexander Yashin are one of the most vivid pages in the book of spiritual quest of the Russian intellectuals. Having entered into literature with verses of folk melodic, submitting to the spirit of time, having forced his way through all conventionalities of his epoch, A.Y. Yashin became a worthy representative and exponent of conscientious social thoughts of the men of the sixties.

The Vologda region – native land of the poet and writer – remembers and reveres his memory: the Historical and Memorial Museum of A.Y. Yashin is open in Nikolsk; his parents’ house in the village of Bludnovo and the summer house constructed by the poet in the Bobrishny Ugor have been preserved. The Memorial Day of Alexander Yashin is usually held in Nikolsk on July 11. They publish books and shoot documentaries about the life and creative work of Yashin.

The title of the exhibition “Do Good Deeds” is a kind of the formula of life and at the same time involvement of our contemporaries in thought about the world and a man in this world. What Yashin liked, what he wrote about, what he was proud of, and what he was worried about – all this was embodied in the exhibition. Its main idea is to find inevitable, inextricable connection by means of modern fine arts between the creative activity of our outstanding fellow-townsman and all of us, for whom Alexander Yashin has worked, who love him for a long time and who only gets acquainted with his heritage.

The exhibition presents both paintings from the holdings of the Vologda Regional Picture Gallery and pictures of modern artists who are directly connected with the personality and works of Alexander Yashin or are consonant with his creative activity in the event and spiritual plans.

The writer’s portraits hold a special place. Not many of them were painted in his lifetime. Artists began to turn to his image more often after Yahin’s death. The unique portrait created in his lifetime, in 1966, by V.N. Korbakov opens the gallery of his images. Vivid spontaneity and perception of the poet’s figure was determined with not only friendship of the artist and the poet, but also with indisputable talent of the painter. The most important thing is that the master has managed to find that necessary measure in the description of the portrayed person when rightly captured traits of the appearance equally express his unique individuality and a certain typical image of the writer-intellectual: we can see one of those Russian people who “buy a right for creative work at the cost of youth”. We can feel thought in his brooding eyes. The colours of the portrait are rather modest without any deliberate effects. Vital cogency and psychological expressiveness of the image is intensified by means of the fine change of close tones and skilful glazing that convey reverence of the facial tissue and thicken a deep shadow at the eyes.

The image of Alexander Yashin – the man and the writer – is presented in the picture of Y.A. Korobov “In the Meadow. A. Yashin” (1979-2012). The tendency of the landscape domination in the genre structure and its influence on the adjacent genres – genre art, portrait, still life – was embodied in the creative activity of this artist. This tendency is typical for many phenomena of the 20th-century fine arts. The writer is depicted against the background of the landscape. But it is a panoramic landscape, meditation about the fates of Russia where the past presenting itself in the present makes us think about the future and gets back to basics. Yashin is a thinker in this work, first of all. A wise and profound look, hardly visible sad and unusually sweet smiling eyes, and lips that are tightly closed in severe restraint. Special colour solution of the portrait painted in the fine play of tones is naturally coordinated with the background-landscape. The image created by the artist wins over with its vitality, perfection in conveying the main, determinant features of Yashin’s figure.

One more portrait was painted by V.Y. Grigoriev right for the exhibition. It has manhood, great vital energy and purposefulness that can be seen in a resolute turn of the head held straight, an inspired silhouette of the face, a frank look in the distant eyes, stamped with light-and-dark modeling energetic muscles of the cheeks, a characterful chin and tightly closed lips.

A different image of the writer is presented in the coloured monotype of Nikolay Mishusta “Alexander Yashin. Anxious Thoughts”. The artist makes the world of his pictures like an all-embracing living organism in which environment, architecture, and people seem to grow into each other with the single circulatory system. You have a feeling of affinity to the whole universe, the great and the small in it. A man and nature for the artist is the indissoluble whole, therefore we have such a classical subject as “a portrait in the landscape”, as we can see in the composition “Anxious Thoughts”. The landscape in this work is not a background, but emotionally rich environment.

In general, the displayed portraits of Yashin have not just captured the image of the famous writer. Their authors managed to convey his spiritual appearance naturally in spite of the fact that the main part of the portraits wasn’t painted from life.

The native land of Yashin - Nikolsk, the Bobrishny Ugor, Bludnovo – is one of the main subjects presented at the exhibition. Vologda’s artists N.I. Mishusta, V.I. Sysoev, B.A. Yerokhov, N.F. Fedosov and others visited his Motherland within the framework of the creative program marking the centenary of the poet’s birth. They worked en plein air and prepared rich material. Reserved areas and the house where the writer was born and grew up are depicted in their landscapes. Characteristic landscape motives are exactly correlated with the vivid world of the Yashin’s prose, as the Vologda region is “the native land” for all artists and the writer himself. Alexander Yashin found peace of mind exactly in his native land. It was there where he wanted to create alone. Therefore he constructed a house in the Bobrishny Ugor: “in a 30-minute walk from the village of Bludnovo…” The poet’s relatives, friends and fellow-townsmen executed his will and buried him in the Bobrishny Ugor, in the place which he had indicated himself. We can see these very places in the works of Nikolay Fedosov – “Bludnovo Village. Foggy Morning” (2012), “In the Bobrishny Ugor” (2012), “Bludnovo Village. It Rains” (2012), “A Field in Bludnovo Village” (2012), “Outskirts of Bludnovo Village” (2012).

The image of Yashin’s Motherland can be considered as a separate subject in the creative work of Nikolay Mishusta. It is easy to notice stability in the choice of his landscape motives. In different variants and combinations, from picture to picture, the artist really worships the distance of Bludnovo, the beauty of the Bobrishny Ugor, and other important places in the poet’s life. His landscapes have no dramatic character, harsh collisions, conflicts – they have only tranquility and sometimes quiet sadness. The painting is light, sometimes transparent. There is always place for the sky, even if the artist paints forest, therefore it is full of light. And we see an amazing result - the feeling of his monotypes is almost the same as the feeling of wildlife contemplation.

V.I. Sysoev created soulful, warm and very delicate in feelings landscapes in the native land of the poet. They are notable for amazingly true conveying of the life of nature. Enormous sketch work and observations – the artist put a lot of effort and feelings into every picture.

B.A. Yerokhov is an artist who elaborated his own style corresponding exactly to his personality and outlook drawing upon the experience and traditions of the Russian realistic school. The image of the Bobrishny Ugor is that part of the world that is especially dear to the artist. His landscapes have that fascinating charm of contemplation of earthly beauty that makes us think about many things and, first of all, about eternity and instantaneity of human existence, joy of life and sorrow of decline.

The exhibition “Do Good Deeds” marking the centenary of Alexander Yashin’s birth is not only a tribute to the memory of our famous fellow-townsman, but also a chance to display all diversity of the spiritual and creative image of the ancient and actively growing Vologda land. Creative activity of the Vologda’s painters naturally continues cultural traditions of the Russian North and is notable for a large variety and originality.

It is known that art is beauty that is a sign of kindness. Let this eternal value not be depleted in the generous hands of artists, poets and writers!

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