Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Ghosts in painting

Ghosts in painting. Viktor Borisov-Musatov 'Ghosts', 1903

Viktor Borisov-Musatov ‘Ghosts’, 1903

Many of us met the expression “River of Time”. In the painting of Viktor Borisov-Musatov “Ghosts” you can see what’s going on on its mysterious shores. Time is fleeting, it has only one direction: from the past to the future. And into the past you can return only in your dreams and memories. On the canvas of the artist ghosts of the past “come alive”. It is getting dark in the old manor park. The path of a quite specific park in the estate of Zubrilov, where he painted this landscape, takes fantastic shapes. The painting is filled with a soft rustle of leaves and a whisper of long-extinct votes. Smears of matte tempera are put so easy that through them shines weave of the canvas, and the rhythm of figures is incorrect, elusive. Their lines are swaying, melting, and it seems that you can hear the quiet melody.

Ghosts in painting. Viktor Borisov-Musatov 'Pond'. 1902

Viktor Borisov-Musatov ‘Pond’. 1902

When my declining years dry up my life
And extinguished the candle, I will go again
In the vast world of misty transformations …
Let the green forest be my shelter.
N. Zabolotsky

Ghosts in painting. Viktor Borisov-Musatov 'Pond'. 1902

Ghosts in painting. Viktor Borisov-Musatov ‘Pond’. 1902

Many paintings of “Blue Rose” (symbolist artist association in Moscow from 1906 to 1908) are characterized by fabulous musicianship. But you do not hear, you see the music. In the painting of Borisov-Musatov “Pond” the girls on the bank are frozen in a strange half-asleep. Movement of shapes, lines and folds of their dresses “in tune” reflections of trees and clouds in the water. All together intertwined in some hypnotic hypnotic melody.

Ghosts in painting. Martiros Saryan. Lake of fairies. 1905

Martiros Saryan. Lake of fairies. 1905

Far, far away in the country, where there are blue flowers, it was the custom: young women having heard the sound of the magic flute, went on the waterfront and fell asleep there. Their dreams were very similar: they sank into the depths of the pond and found themselves in the realm of blue jets. At the bottom of the lake there was a magical fountain. There could not talk, so as not to scare off a miracle. Near the fountain were two women, immersed in a dream. With every breath they threw fountain water jet up. They soared high up and scattered in thousands of glittering water drops. Some of them froze in the air, turning into a branch of a tree with clear blue leaves. And the worst jet fell down and turned into some living creature.
Women felt that they had seen there babies with their eyes wide open. They were floating on playing jets, and then disappeared in the depths of the fountain, which shone with soft, gentle light. This light was so beautiful, and the music so sweetly cradled! And the women felt that a little bit more, and a miracle happens: in the depths of the fountain they saw the cradle of the origin of life.

Ghosts in painting. Pavel Kuznetsov 'Blue Fountain', 1905. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Pavel Kuznetsov ‘Blue Fountain’, 1905. State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

The picture ‘Blue Fountain’ was painted by Pavel Kuznetsov. The image of the fountain symbolizes the mystical circle of life that permeates and animates all things. Ghostly glow emanating from the paintings, reminiscent of the presence in this world of unearthly gleam of light. Appear ghostly beings, they are not yet born, not yet separated from the primary chaos, but already involved in a relentless series of life cycles. One of the main themes of symbolism – the eternal theme of femininity – Kuznetsov gets a new shade of meaning and is treated as the eternal theme of motherhood, the endless cycle of birth.

All images are scanned from 1985 book on Russian art