TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTHONY
Pressboard, oil, foil
76 x 83 cm (29.9" x 32.7")
Moses Feigin is the last Russian avant-garde artist and member of the "Jack of Diamonds" group. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records. He absorbed many styles and trends in his work - fauvism, cubism, post-impressionism, expressionism, realism.
The Matusovsky collection stands out with the works of Moses Feigin 1970-1971, where he used gold and silver foil. Few of these were created, and many of them were collected by Luba. Foil is a unique material that has a shape memory effect, i.e. it can change its shape depending on the ambient temperature. The image in the picture will transform depending on the heating of the foil or its parts, and the viewer will first see one image, and after a while - another, slightly altered one, all on the same plane. Moreover, the image can change rather gradually and then the viewer will be able to see the dynamic picture.
The author himself considered this work to be one of his best and at first he had no plans to part with it. Intuition helped Luba Matusovsky's to buy this painting, telling her that it was a real masterpiece.
The plot of the painting is an attempt by the devil disguised as a naked woman to seduce the holy elder. Saint Anthony is a Christian ascetic, considered the founder of hermitage. He was the first to live completely alone in the Egyptian desert, leaving everyone behind and fighting the temptations of the world and the flesh with the help of prayer. This rare piety attracted Satan's particular attention to him.
At first, ordinary demons made several attempts to shake the saint's resolve with violence, and when this failed, their master took over. Appearing to Antony in the form of a beautiful queen and successfully demonstrating a series of good deeds, the devil tried carnal seduction of the elder. An experienced hermit immediately realized who he was facing and calling on all his piety for help, he managed to overcome the temptation.
For centuries, St. Anthony was considered an instructive example of how to resist earthly temptations, to be on guard all the time, not to take everything to be the truth, no matter how much it seems to be, and to know that seduction can lead to being cursed by God.
Feigin gave the central place in the painting to a female figure in an open blood-red dress with bare breasts, and her head thrown back. On both sides there are two hypostases of the hermit - his fleshly appearance with his head low and a huge pink foot, and a righteous soul, shining with the blue color of high spirituality. The woman's nakedness is emphasized with golden foil demonstrating the blinding effects of the tempting subject on the elder.