Glimpses of Eternity

Prof.Viktoria Ukolova, Doctor of Historical Science

There are artists who feel deeply and are blessed to be able to express the soul of their people. Ivan Glazunov is a very Russian artist. His art bemuses us by its sincerity and reverent attitude towards the life.
Russian North has become his source of inspiration. As a student Ivan Glazunov discovered it and remained committed to this land. Russian North is still a pristine land, where time and eternity are friends, and where magic fairy tales lurked in woodlands. Russian history is inextricably intertwined with Russian North.
Ivan Glazunov’s northern landscapes have a special place among today’s Russian art world. His art is very modern, though it does not reflect the present and it does not use modern techniques. However it does penetrate into the spiritual depth of the current time. Ivan Glazunov has an intense feeling of preserving and capturing the great gift of life.
Ivan Glazunov’s most favorite subject is landscape. He paints northern woodlands and rivers, villages, log houses and village churches. His landscapes are not just “beautiful illustrations” and sketches - they are statements of his soul, expressed through delicate play of colors, voice of the soul in the reflected light of natural being. That is why his rivers do not so much divide the land as unite it. So as his ice drift on Sukhona river does not threaten with flood but proclaims that the spring has come as well as the new life.
Even the harsh northern forest manifests joy with a bush burst into bloom or light in the trees or luminous break through clouds over it. In one of his dramatic landscapes with howling hungry wolves rushing to a snow bound village even its impending tragedy is softened by white and pink clouds over snow-covered roofs.
Skies of Russian North are sometimes low and faded making the lighting soft as if a little bit heart-rending and ready to go out. It is amazing how the artist shows marvellous facility in painting the light and the air that are cuddling every tree and every grass melting into the water in a pale glow. Glimpses of light seem to flash unexpectedly among painted objects not only in his landscapes but in his many other paintings.
We perceive them not just as a physical light, but as a break through into another spirit world. His delicate approach to painting the light makes us think about sophisticated and well known Russian artist Valentin Serov (1865-1911).
Though Glazunov paints in a realistic manner he cannot be defined solely as a realistic painter. His artistic credibility is devoid of photo realism. Other superior beauty strikes through northern nature beauty and stirs your soul, makes you think of core values. Light and air dominate in Ivan Glazunov landscapes.
Subtle shades of blue, dark blue, gray and green and the pearly scale of color stir our imagination.
Everything is natural and various. Though the northern nature is thought to be unpretentious and grey, the artist succeeds in rendering tender almost shimmering shades of exquisite color range similar to the ancient Venetian palette. For example his sketches of the incredible pink house in Velikii Ustiug reminds us of Venetian houses and a view through Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery gates resembles Piazza San Giovanni Paolo. His sketches have peculiar charm. They reflect the present moment, its state and sudden artistic discovery with almost childish spontaneous attitude.
The poetry of Russian North's beauty is expressed through his favourite folk costumes as well. Ivan Glazunov and his wife Julia have found and restored beautiful sarafans, shawls, and headdresses. His portraits of women in intensely colored folk suits with gold and pearl embroidery are breath-taking. These folk suits have been stored in peasants chests for hundred years. However it is not only the beauty of folk clothing that captures us but also the mysterious femininity in their faces that is pure and challenging.
Ivan Glazunov is an artist who knows what love is. His portrait of his family is an example of this amazing love. The portraits of his wife and daughters illustrate such tender affection. He captures the quiet harmony of family life - we see a mother who is the ranking guardian of the family life. In another painting we see his wife who was expecting a child. The artist in a simple and dramatic way reveals to us childbearing as the highest sense of female being. Together they are experiencing a new life. Anticipation of spiritual revelations pervade his paintings as seen in the painting of ancient Russian churches gates.
Those gates are locked; however one can easily notice glimpses of eternity through its hammer-work.
The artist’s spiritual and creative aspirations are defined mainly by eternity in its religious hypostasis and history. It is very difficult to create a historical painting that will not be just an illustration but will resonate with his contemporaries’ hearts. In his early painting “Crucify Him” we see the figure of Christ. It looks as if the scene is taking place right now. Bleeding Christ in the crown of thorns and the purple robe silently questions each of us: “What is your choice: the path to Truth or the path of a traitor”.
In Russian history there are women who are known for their sacrifice, patience and sacredness. Evdokia, the widow of Prince Dmitry Donskoy, is one of his favourite subjects. In the painting of the Princess one sees not only many tiny precise details of her surroundings but also her face tinged with eternity.
The artist participated in the revival of the Russian church. Ivan Glazunov began with Ascension cathedral (minor) in Moscow, located in his neighbourhood where he is still working on its wall paintings.
Besides he has painted icons for the Church of the Sovereign in Moscow. He has also painted the Icon of the Mother of God for the church in Ganina Yama near Ekaterinburg that was built over the mine where remains of the late Russian emperor and his family were found. Ivan Glazunov strives in his restoration of church interiors to make the paintings a part of the church, its space, its interior and to be in harmony with its location and history. In his work art tradition goes together with improvisations and emotions.
Ivan Glazunov continues the traditions of Russian classical art. Tradition in art is passed down from generation to generation; it is cultural inheritance of fundamental, time-tested art work essentials. One cannot create anything solid, anything required by modern life without this basis. To be modern means to be in harmony with your time. St. Augustine used to say: Like men like times. Ivan Glazunov‘s work give us hope that our modern times are not only metropolises, information boom, terrorist attacks, an alienated, confused man in a hostile world, but it is a time of hope, love, spirituality and the ability to feel glimpses of eternity in our life.