. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Artist Attempts to Return To Beauty of 'World of Art'




The Soviet art world led a fight to the death against beauty. But now that the cliches of Socialist Realism have become more or less history, many artists have turned to the aesthetic traditions that were hushed and silenced by communism.


Lyudmila Varlamova, whose show is currently running at the Union of Russian Women, is one such artist. Varlamova says she is painting in the style of the "World of Art" movement, an artistic group from the first quarter of the century whose refinement and symbolism annoyed the reds so much. Trying to imitate the artists of that group, Varlamova portrays Old World elegance and gentility. Ladies and gentlemen from society's upper crust stroll along with gardens, ponds and gazebos in the background.


It is interesting to compare Varlamova's take on this style to the original, which the Tretyakov Gallery will be displaying in a special "World of Art" exhibit until April. I leave the judgment to the viewer, but it's evident that when a tradition ends, it is very difficult to revive it 70 years later.


Nevertheless, the attempt of the Russian Women's Union to spotlight women's art, which too often goes ignored, is worthy of praise.


Among other things, Varlamova is exhibiting her illustrations to Pushkin's "The Queen of Spades" and "Eugene Onegin," executed in the monotype technique, whereby an artist can make only one print from his or her painting. The Pushkin themes are not accidental. Not only is Russia preparing for Pushkin's 200th birthday June 6, but the Russian Women's Union is situated in the building of the former Anglia Hotel, where Pushkin met with the exiled Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz in the 1820s. Part of the exhibition space is in fact part of the Pushkin Memorial Museum.


The exhibition "The Past Has Risen Up Before Me" will be running through the end of November at the Union of Russian Women, 6 Glinishchevsky Pereulok. By appointment only; call 209-7708/9707 and ask for Galina Mikhailovna Fedoseyeva. Nearest metro: Pushkinskaya.