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A person without a face. Essay on the painting by Vrubel

M. A. Vrubel ” After the concert. By the fireplace”, 1905.

Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel is one of those representatives of Russian artists whose range of creativity had a huge scale. He was not just a symbolist artist — his paintings can not be entered into the framework of a single art direction. Endowed with an extraordinary power of imagination, he created truly great canvases, stunning in their energy. In each of Vrubel’s paintings, there is a mystery, a mystery that every viewer can reveal in their own way. Perhaps this is why his work has both devoted admirers and those who do not fully understand the meaning of his paintings and do not try to comprehend.

Picture ” After the concert. By the fireplace ” is a portrait of his beloved wife, Opera singer Nadezhda Ivanovna Zabela-Vrubel, made with charcoal and pastels. By the way, this is quite atypical for Vrubel, because most of his works he wrote in oil, although he was not alien to graphics. This is a very schematic drawing consisting of sharp, rather careless lines, a “sketch” made on a relatively large canvas.

The artist does not detail, does not focus on something separately. All that is depicted in the picture, as if enclosed in a single geometric figure. There is a lot of space in it and it seems that it can become more-the imagination can easily draw an invisible situation and expand the boundaries of what is already depicted. Maybe such a feeling is created due to the fact that the left part of the picture was left unfinished, and because of this, the painting captures the viewer in a whirlwind in the circle of life paintings.

In the image of a woman, we see our own characteristics: her hands are barely distinguishable, but we can clearly imagine their location, the dress is drawn very schematically, but we are able to guess its material and even see the style (by the way, this dress is made according to the artist’s own plan). It is surprising that the artist achieves the effect of “accuracy” and “certainty” by using this kind of drawing technique. If we turn our attention to the face, we see that it hardly has any definite features.

Whether this was intended or the artist simply could not complete the picture because of the illness that overtook him and finish painting the face – we do not know. Despite the fact that the Central place of this masterpiece is occupied by a female figure, a burning fireplace stands out in the background and is the most” challenging ” subject of the picture.

We can safely say that the fireplace is in opposition with the surrounding environment and with the woman herself, from whom comes a truly noble, all-consuming light. Perhaps everything, except the embers in the fireplace, is made in this picture in soft, pastel, almost transparent colors, which makes the canvas light, almost airy.

Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel did not have time to finish drawing his Muse: he gradually lost his sight and experienced both physical and mental ailments. Work on the unfinished canvas was abandoned five years before the death of the great artist.

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