Open Windows of Beauty
Russian realistic art is a major phenomenon in the world. The tradition of realism in Russia has a history of several centuries. And in the 21st century this line of fine art is still alive, and not only follows on on what has been achieved earlier, but also evolves, for every time and every artist brings in his vision of the world and works from his own state of mind.
In the cruel world of "modern art" that deviated far away from the classical norms of the notion of beauty, artists-realists stand apart. They need courage not to follow the trend, but to continue the classical line of art. This line has emphasis on clarity: the clarity in the author's civil position, the clarity in perception of what the beauty of life is, the clarity in artistic exposition.
Olga Kalashnikova is an artist who chose the path of realistic classical art. Her work is based on a multi-faceted vision of life full of beauty and drama, clarity of ideas about the harmony, and clarity of the expression of that natural harmony in her paintings.
This civil and creative position is a result of the artist's uneasy and special path in life. It happened once that young math engineer Olga Kalashnikova took her eyes from the formulas and algorithms and peered into the world around. And she was amazed by the beauty of the world that was revealed to her (in that world). It was such a strong shock for her that the inspired Olga put aside all her math and computer skills and went into her true calling and new vocation. There was a university study again, there were endless trips to nature, there was a painstaking work in her workshop. As a result an artist was born who can accurately note the meanings of life phenomena and spiritually and graphically convey the impressions from them, an artist who is true to the principles of realism, the artistic expression of life phenomena in the forms of life.
The forms of such an expression are as diverse as the artists are. For Olga it is always a direct expression of what she sees and feels, it is always a direct and clear image. Formal techniques like texture, composition, color aspects, are always secondary for her. Those serve mostly as means for a more exact delivery of meanings and reporting to the viewer the completeness of the depicted nature. It gives the special character of lyricism to her images: they are very individualized, personal, permeated with the author's own emotions. But at the same time they look absolutely concrete, as they are built on the qualities and properties of the objects and phenomena depicted.
"Oh, how short life is, and how much of wonderful and Divine articles we miss by not noticing their absence!" This position of the famous Russian religious philosopher I. Ilyin Olga fully shares. She believes that the main purpose of the artist is to show the true beauty of the world created by God in her works.
But that is not enough for her. She seeks a portrait feeling in everything she paints. Portrait approach suggests a combination of generalized characteristics and specific details, whether it is a spring landscape (a portrait of spring), a summer bouquet (a portrait of summer), or an autumn still life with old objects bearing traces of time (a portrait of autumn). This approach, which Olga Kalashnikova brilliantly masters, gives deeper meaning to her works. In all genres of her painting (landscapes, still lifes, portraits) pictures come to life: monasteries and lay people’s houses stand on the immense Russian land, and above this vast land of fields and forests high clouds fly in the sky... Snowy winter gives way to tender spring, and then a flowery summer comes. And then there is the crown of the year – a bright and fruitful autumn, calling for summing up and reflection ... This cycle, being repeated from year to year, from century to century, is the basis of every person's life. This natural cycle is the basis of Olga's creativity, dictating the choice of subjects. And she shows these subjects so clearly and emotionally that the audience responds to the works with their own associations and memories, falling in love with the artist's works.
It is difficult to be an artist-realist, it is always a hard work. Nature, as the best teacher of the artist, is very complex and diverse. Therefore, the "pupilage" should never stop for a true artist. Only from prolonged and detailed exploration of nature can artist gain the accuracy and completeness of impressions in her works.
That is the way the Russian artist Olga Kalashnikova goes. She puts all her soul and professional skills into her work. The images created by her come to life. They bring harmony into real life. Her paintings are like open windows in an endless world of beauty!
In the year of 1999 Russia and Switzerland celebrated the 200-th anniversary of the crossing of the Alps by Russian army led by generalissimos A. V. Suvorov. The army was going from Italy to Austria. True to its allied treaty with Austria, it fought the Napoleon invaders, well fortified in the Alps. As we know, A.V. Suvorov triumphantly beat this French army. It is no accident that at the site of the first battle in Switzerland at the St Gotthard Pass, the Swiss placed a monument to Russian commander Suvorov.
In 1997 the artist Olga Kalashnikova came to this mountain region. She was invited by the first and permanent director of the museum at the St Gotthard Pass signore Carlo Peterposten. More trips followed.
Olga was discovering Switzerland. She was here for the first time. Olga looked at the mountain slopes, passes and snow peaks through the eyes of those Russian soldiers who came here to liberate the cantons of Switzerland from the French invaders. She was imagining herself marching with the generalissimos and his soldiers through these passes with trembling and delight in front of the cold massive rocks and the vast valley openings beyond them. Hence, the admiration for those Russian epic miracle-heroes. Not many of them returned back to Russia. But the memory of Russian soldiers is kept by both the Swiss and the Russian people. That is the memory of the brave, strong and honest common Russian people.
She worked hard. Several exhibitions took place. But the main achievement was that she discovered a completely new trend in her work. Her Russian flat landscapes, portraits of common Russian people living in a quiet province far from Moscow, her lyrical still lives full of love and tenderness, began to change rapidly to the mountain landscapes and portraits of Russian solders and Swiss people.
Friends from the Russian Historical-Military society helped to reconstruct the events at the Gotthard Pass and the Devil's Bridge in the authentic attire. Attributes are very important for the artist! And Olga, immersed in such a beautiful and inspiring environment, started to work. She created a unique series of portraits of Russian warriors of the time - grenadiers and huntsmen. Olga worked on portraits in Russia. And trips to Switzerland continued with the attraction to the land of powerful landscapes and new grandeur natural shapes.
Olga Kalashnikova met with many Swiss people and made a lot of friends there whom she admired for their warmth and kindness. Many people posed for her: the Capuchin priest from Andermatt with his invariable pipe who played in the theater in the evenings, the cheerful and sunburned railway worker Franco, the wine merchant Pierre used to cheerfully treating Olga with his wine, the girl Matilda, the beautiful Beatrice, her husband - sculptor Paco, the museum director at St Gotthard Pass Carlo, engineer Gabriele, 86-year-old shepherd Bonaday ... The list can go on and on.
Olga always had an interest in the people's way of life, and especially to the things loaded with history. Her still-lifes are full of old dishes, traditional Swiss cheese, young wine produced on these slopes for centuries... Once it even led to a curious case. Paintings of Olga Kalashnikova are often get associated with the works of the Swiss national artist Albert Anker (1831-1910). Almost all the Swiss know him and are proud of him. His works can be found in all major museums in Switzerland. One of the exhibition held by O. Kalashnikova in 2000 took place in Mont Vully not far from the house-museum of Anker. Olga invited descendants of the artist to the exhibition. They noticed three keys in the still-life "Swiss Antiques" and began to beg her to give those keys back. They were sure that those were the keys that disappeared many years ago from the museum. The work was obviously created under the influence of Anker's solid and lyrical painting. But the keys were from a barn of Olga's Swiss friend living in the other end of the country. That is the power of art!
Art connects times. It connects people. Memories of our common history must continue to live. Those memories come alive on the painting of the artist, portraits of the solders and historical landscapes. And it is realistic fine art that makes it possible. The art Russian artist Olga Kalashnikova masters.
8 years have passed since her last trip to Switzerland in 2009. The work on the Swiss series is not over yet. Stunning panoramas of the Alps, shining glaciers, gloomy stones, snow-white clouds and blue high skies attract artist Olga Kalashnikova even more than ever. And she is ready for new ascensions and discoveries of the country, the love for which continues to warm her heart.