Reviews and Articles

Boldness Conquers Canvasses. The Exhibition Of An Artist Who Survived All Regimes.

Sergey Soloviev, New Izvestia newspaper, September 2008.

An exposition of paintings by Moses Feigin began working in Moscow. The famous painter found the Russian avant-garde, Stalinist realism, the Khrushchev thaw, and the perestroika market. But in each of the historical moments, he retained his style and look.

The strength and tenacity of one of the most underrated artists is fully conveyed in his paintings, which are still awaiting worldwide recognition. Last year, the news spread around the world that the experts of the Guinness Book of Records introduced a new nomination - "the oldest working professional artist". This title went to Moses Aleksandrovich Feigin, at that time a 103-year-old master. The news made people start talking about the hero - it was then that they discovered that for many years we have been living next to a genius for whom neither conjuncture nor self-promotion exists.

In April 2008, the artist died - it became clear that a whole era had gone with him, the last bond between the Russian avant-garde and the present day. The exhibition, in theory, should bring the figure of Moses Feigin to a new level - if not to the world, then with an eye to the Tretyakov Gallery, to national glory. But either the aura of the artist himself, who preferred to remain in the shadows and bend his line, even within the walls of an apartment or a workshop, played a role, or a miscalculation by inexperienced organizers, but the exposition turned out to be extremely blurry. In the farthest halls of the Artist's House, paintings are hung in the best traditions of street collapse - a solid wall. No explanations or accents - who knows, he will understand, who does not know - he has nothing to know. Of course, a person, even with a little visual training, will be able to see several layers in Feigin's paintings. Here, of course, is the tradition of the avant-garde direction "The Jack of Diamonds" - Feigin studied with Lentulov, was familiar with all the legislators of the association. Plots from the fairground, folk circle - a circus, figure skating, horse races, a paradoxical still life - come just from the Diamonds.

A separate chapter is "Picasso Cubism", unexpectedly combined with a very personal, almost hysterical expressiveness. Everyone knows that in the most desperate years of the Stalinist purges and the reforging of VKHUTEMAS graduates into realists, he was busy depicting steel factories. There are many similarities with post-war nonconformism: take, at least, compositions on gospel themes that appeared in the 50s and 60s, or paintings based on The Master and Margarita. In his conversations, the artist repeatedly emphasized his susceptibility to the most diverse finds of the twentieth century. I hated the bigots and the position of complacency. It is a pity that the curators of the exhibition did not try in any way to show the innovation of Feigin himself - in what moments the apartment reclusive bypassed not only his contemporaries, but also the current generation. Feigin's fundamental innovation is felt not so much in the subjects of the paintings and not even in the manner of painting. This is a completely unknown feeling that you will not experience in any of the halls of the Tretyakov Gallery. In terms of strength, only the impressions of the German Expressionists can be compared with him. The fact is that Russian artists (for all their sense of the tragedy of life) in their canvases still remained preachers and teachers, trying to calm down the boiling lava of passions, to introduce it into the unhurried channel of high forms. If you like, this is the legacy of icon painting - no matter what torments the saint experiences, he is detachedly exalted and strict on the icon.

Quite different with Fegin. His paintings boil with passions, there is so much energy in them from the collision of life with death (with any fatality or pain) - by the way, "dances of death" have repeatedly become his theme - that the viewer experiences almost physiological experiences in front of the canvases. It is these nervous acuteness, picturesque nudity that could be a real blow to today's commercially verified things. A counterbalance to art for interiors. However, the organizers of the exhibition chose to simply include the paintings of Moses Feigin in the stream of other near-antique works of post-war artists. Similarly, Rembrandt was once considered just a decent portrait painter. Perhaps someday - and there is reason to believe that soon - exclusivity will be appreciated and shown at its true worth.
M.Feigin Reviews Exhibitions
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