‘The Moscow Times’ describes how the travels of the Russian painter Nikolai Kuzmin strongly influenced his work
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'The Moscow Times' describes how the travels of the Russian painter Nikolai Kuzmin strongly influenced his work.

 

 

Summer 1998

 

Picture:
Kuzmin's travels had a strong effect on his work.

Nikolay KUZMIN
Artist's Travels Give Him New Sense of Light, Color.

By Matthew Burger
SPECIAL TO THE MOSCOW TIMES

One of the first things painter Nikolai Kuzmin saw when he traveled to Western Europe for the first time in 1991 was the light.

"The colors, he noticed, are different - stronger, more intense," said his daughter, Lyuba Kuzmina, who acts as a sort of manager for the elder Kuzmin, whose exhibit of new paintings is running at the Atrium gallery in Ducat Place II.

In Russia, she explained, the colors are less intense, sometimes dull and gray, "but [my father] finds a special beauty in this."

This fascination with light comes through in many of Kuzmin's paintings, such as "Three Pine Trees," a sparkling play of color. Standing a few meters from the painting, it is easy to be seduced into thinking that Kuzmin was somehow able to mix the light from the scene onto his palette.

Kuzmina said that after an extended visit to Croatia in 1992, her father began to see the world with different eyes. "He says that here [in Russia] there are tones. In Croatia, he said, he saw colors for the first time."

Born in 1938 in a village near Nizhny Novgorod, Kuzmin attended the Artistic College in Pavlovo-na-Oke and went on to graduate from the Moscow High Artistic Industrial School-which Kuzmina said had "a more free, more liberal faculty."

And it's easy to see this freedom in her father's works. Kuzmin is not restrained by convention. His paintings try not to capture the objects he paints but, rather, the light that is reflected from them.

In "The Big Water" (1998), one of the many things apparent is the vibrant color - especially the electric blue that hints at a calmness and, as one viewer noted? "a feeling of timelessness."

Kuzmina said the impressions made upon her father during his first visits outside Russia are indelible.

"When people saw his newer works, they thought it was a different artist," she said. "They have a different mood different light."

Indeed, she said, capturing light has become Kuzmin's passion.

"He always deals with the relationship between light and colors," she said. "This is his inspiration - the physical light and inner light, which he tries to catch."

The artist once said in a newspaper interview that it is no quicker to paint from memory than it is from nature. But he prefers working with his subjects, in nature, on the streets-even in winter.

Also apparent in the artist's works is his devotion to Moscow as a central theme. Last year, in honor of the city's 850th anniversary, he exhibited paintings universally oriented to Moscow.

From "Moscow: Serebryanichesky Lane" (1993) to his "Voskresenskiye Gates" (1996), Kuzmin excels at capturing the spiritand tone of this city. But, as his daughter is quick to point out, it is not a gloomy, cold Moscow, he captures.

"He enjoys the city, it makes him happy," she said, "and you can see this in his work."

"New paintings by Nikolai Kuzmin" runs through Sept. 1 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, at the Atrium hall at Ducat Palace II, 7 Ulitsa Gasheka. Metro Mayakovskaya.

 

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