Viktorova Natalia, Radio “The Voice of Russia”
The following text was translated from the transcript that broadcast: “Art is not an adornment but an action”, painter Moisei Feigin used to say. He was born in Russia in 1904. In 2008, shortly before his death at the age of 104, he was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest artist.
Harlequin`s Confession, is now on at the Moscow Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Feigin, who witnessed several historical and cultural epochs, accumulated in his creative work the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century (he was the last surviving member of the Jack of Diamonds art group), and abstract art and socialist realism. Till his very last days he retained the mind of a working and vital artist. His works became especially distinctive in his last years when he could paint in a manner he preferred without fear of the government crack down.
His grandson, also an artist, Leonid Feigin, says, “My grandfather had always thought about himself as a young artist. He never stopped learning despite his age.” You can see his works covering a period of 60 years at the exhibition in Moscow. These are very interesting and expressive works. He was a brave man, who endured all the hardships the Soviet people had to. But in heart, he was always in opposition. Unfortunately, his paintings started to attract public attention only after his death, said Leonid Feigin. Moses Feigin`s paintings have elements of cubism, abstract art and figurative expression…. However, he had to paint political leaders to earn a living. In one of his latest interviews, Feigin recollected how he drew Stalin`s portrait. “I was asked to draw a giant head of Stalin on the wall of a Stalinist skyscraper, the one on the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment in Moscow. Just imagine us drawing a giant eye…when we were working, we could not see what would come of it…” At home, Moses Feigin drew absolutely different things. In late 1960s, he was carried away by fantastic world of the carnival. Harlequins, circus actors and musicians became his favorite characters. Of course, that was an allegory. His palette was mainly red, yellow and orange. In his last years, Feigin became color blind, but continued working using the color techniques he had utilized throughout his life. When asked, “How could he paint without seeing colors?” he answered that he remembered the colors and the way they combined. His paints were always in order and he knew where to take this or that, said Anna Feigin, his daughter. The exhibition in Moscow comprises over 100 paintings. Unfortunately, most of his works were destroyed by Feigin himself. To economize, Feigin did not buy new canvases, but painted over those no longer dear to him. We can only guess what is hidden under paint.