Tue | Jan 28, 2020

Palettes of Harmony - Russian art takes centre stage in Kingston

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:26 AM

“The essence of this poem…,” said Aleksei Sazanov, head of consular section, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Jamaica, “ … is that love is unconditional …”

Sazanov was giving context and translation of ‘Wait for Me’, a poem by Konstantin Simonov about a soldier who is going to war and is telling his love to wait for him.

His words seemingly summed up the evening of November 25 at Legacy Suite, The Jamaica Pegasus hotel – for love flowed in many forms. Russia – a country which is dotted with famous landmarks – from St Petersburg to Moscow, from the ballet to the opera, there is rich art history embedded in her DNA.

It was the night of ‘Palettes of Harmony’ – a first-of-its-kind event showcasing Russian fine art – a collaboration between the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Jamaica with Osmosis Caribbean – at ArtBeats 5, annual fine arts showcase – Night 2.

Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Jamaica, Vladislav Kurbatskiy, introduced the Russian fine arts to the guests – specially selected digital copies works of artists from three art schools in Moscow and Saint Petersburg – GITR Film and Television School, Moscow; Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design; and The Surikov Art Institute, Moscow – were showcased in this special collaborative event.

Guests appreciated the fusion of Jamaican fine art with their Russian colleagues – transitioning from the physical works to digital copies showcased on flat screen televisions – they were also treated to videos of Bolshoi Theatre ballet performances, and a film on the process of etching, a process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio (incised) in the metal.

“This is a first-of-kind initiative, and a stepping stone for more such creative collaborations to come,” said Kurbatskiy. “Art is not only a thing of beauty to admire, but it is a formidable bridge of understanding other cultures, beyond the realms of popular perceptions.”

The confluence of creative expressions did, indeed, gave guests a chance to be up close and personal with forms, media and expressions of the Russian artists.

Special

It was special too – as Anna Kisliczina, rector of Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity and brought greetings.

“Dear colleague artists, teachers and art lovers from Jamaica,” Kisliczina said, via a video message. “We send you our warm greetings from Russia, Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design. We wish to thank Jamaican side for inviting us to today’s exhibition, for that brilliant opportunity not only to showcase artworks of Russian masters, but also to get familiarised with unique Jamaican art.”

She highlighted the rich history of the school, which was founded in 1876 by Baron Alexander Stieglitz, under the leadership of the Russian Emperor Alexander the 2nd.

“With more than 140 years in existence, our school has rich traditions. Academy is widely recognised nowadays for its highest expertise in visual arts, visual arts in particular, and design,” Kisliczina informed.

Aleksei Talashook, adviser at Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design’s Council, in his message, spoke about the work done by the school’s students.

“One of the important spheres of our academy’s work is restoration,” Talashook said, via a video message. “Since 1945, when our school was rebuilt after the Second World War, restoration courses were introduced to prepare experts in that field. They were to reconstruct Saint Petersburg’s suburbs, almost fully demolished during the war.

“I salute the joint exhibition of Russian and Jamaican art,” he said. “This will play an important role in building up broader, deeper understanding between the two nations.”

The guests were able to appreciate artistic statements from another continent – and according to Sazonov, putting this initiative together was a labour of love.

“This feat could have not been achieved if it was not for the willingness of these art schools (from Russia) to take time out and share artwork of their students and faculty,” he said. “We would also like to thank Osmosis Caribbean for providing the platform for this fabulous event, which I am sure is one of many more to come.”

Honouring the many forms of art, poems of Russian poets were read out. They included – Alexander Blok’s ‘The Night, Street, Chemist Shop, and Lantern’; Mikhail Lermontov’s ‘Borodino’; selected verses from Alexander Pushkin’s ‘Ruslan and Ludmila’ and Konstantin Simonov ‘Wait for Me’ – which were read by Shamir Walters; Victoria Kirkwood, Sharni Bullock, and Anyees Taylor – students of Russian language, respectively.

Though the speeches from the school faculty and the poems were in Russian, the guests were captivated by delivery of the messages – they indeed came from the heart.

“We are confident that such cultural exchange will contribute to the development of our countries’ national art schools,” said Kisliczina. “Thank you, and may such events become more and more frequent in the future.”

The art lovers concurred.

“It was an enchanting evening,” a guest posted on Instagram. “Mother Russia, you delivered nothing but the best.”

amitabh.sharma@gleanerjm.com