Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Angel with a trumpet. XIX century. Sherya village. Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture
The age of a wooden man is a little longer than a human and much shorter than a century of its bronze and stone counterparts. Although equally threatened by fire and dampness, but on the other hand, it travels more easily, transforms, and renews. Besides, it is egalitarian, because wood is inexpensive and affordable, and anyone can learn the skills of a carver.
But Perm wooden sculpture is still a riddle. This unusually expressive art has no youth, neither is it ever old. It appeared at the turn of the 17th-18th centuries as a mature phenomenon. It quickly absorbs a lot of styles, tries a lot of various techniques. Also, it shows itself in all its splendor and bloom and disappears, not having had time to exhaust its possibilities. It has no canons, more precisely, it uses different canons, but as a whim, and not as a dogma.
Noteworthy, Perm wooden sculpture almost did not save the names of their masters, but in every detail bears the imprint of their individuality. Common features can be traced, even with ease – and disappear with the same ease. The only undoubtedly common feature for all works is non comformism. Rules exist to violate them. Aliens from the White Sea, immigrants from Polish churches, monochrome replicates of high classicism are accepted into this silent wooden fraternity without objection. But let’s start from the threshold and further: deep down and up.

Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Evangelist Mark. XVIII century. Village of Oryol, Russia. Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

So, let’s start with the angels. This is one of the largest and most diverse groups of wooden creatures. Passionate angelic rank from the village of Gabovo belongs to the late period – the end of the XIX century. The forms and lines of angels are, as it were, deliberately coarse, such a vivid version of a naive art. Fortunately, we know the name of the author – N.M. Kiryanov. These squat figures, puffed-up cheeks, weighty cams, and wigs belong to the kingdom of dwarves rather than angels. And yet the master Kiryanov is an artist, his sculptures have such irony, and such carefree gaiety.

Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Angel with a pipe of the XIX century. Sirinskoye village. Unique art of Perm wooden sculpture

Different angels: gracefully floating, like the ancient “trumpeting glory”, invariably weird heads of cherubs, processions of angels with symbols of the passions of the Lord. They belong to the multi-figured compositions of crucifixes or “Christ in the prison” and carry in their hands the accessories of the penalty: ladders, hammers, pincers, and spears. It seems blasphemous to think that this is for torment and murder. No, these are ancestors, countrymen-Urals people go to work, go to build and create. Let’s look at the Christ of the Urals: will someone’s hand rise to hurt him, and will he give himself to hurt him? No, this is a man. Without a doubt.

The Supreme Savaof of the collection is both young and beautiful, there is not a single gray hair in his curls. Prikamsky master, Dmitri Domnin (1777-1847), made him beardless and designed a beard according to the Scandinavian pattern. As messengers of a better, sunny world, he assigned two young men with Italian and Mediterranean faces to God by the forthcoming angels. In terms of harmony of details, perfection of lines, and emotional fullness, these three figures are among the best in the collection. Once you see, it is impossible to forget. On this high note, you could end it, but …

The history of the Perm collection is a story of adventure, amazing discoveries, interweaving of human destinies with the fate of sculptures. The collection began in the 20s of the twentieth century, thanks to A.K. Syropyatov, the first director of the Perm Gallery and N.N.Serebrennikov, a researcher and collector. From 1923 to 1926, they conducted six expeditions along the most difficult routes. According to N.N.Serebrennikov, in all the trips he had to drive about 5083 miles, of which “2059 miles by horses, 2105 by steamer and 919 by rail”. He managed to acquire 412 individual pieces. The collection continues to grow now, but its fate remains dramatic. Most of the collection is stored in the vaults, in several cramped and damp premises of the upper floors (bell tower) of the former cathedral.

In fact, wood creations are threatened by mold, fungi, and wood chipmakers. They need constant, qualified assistance of restorers. In the meantime, the sword of Damocles has already been brought over them. Unique sculptures that have no analogues either in the world or in Russia, witnesses and contemporaries of the development of Perm land, the creation of Cherdyn, Usol, and Solikamsk now need our help and care.

Perm wooden sculpture