Starting 14 April 2016, the In artibus Foundation launches the third exhibition of the Moscow School series entitled “Late Mashkov”. Curators have focused on the latter two decades, the mature period of Mashkov’s artistic life. Today, the ‘late’ Mashkov is certainly underestimated by art historians and critics, being in the shadow of himself as a part of ‘Jack of Diamonds’. He is also not very popular among the modern audience, as there is currently no permanent exhibitions that would give a chance to get to know Mashkov’s late period. This situation is nothing new to the artist: until 1970s his art was perceived in a contrary way, looking at the ‘Jack of Diamonds’ époque as at Mashkov’s preparations for the feats of socialist realism, which, however, he never performed.
The earliest works at the exhibition – Still Life with a Fan (1922), Crimean Fruit and Magnolia (1923), Portrait of M.I. Mashkova (1923) (all from the State Russian Museum’s collection) – were shown at a landmark ‘Exhibition of Paintings’ (1923), which marked the turn of Jack of Diamonds’ artists, being at the peak of glory, from radical modernism to the classics. Visitors of the exhibition will also see the famous Mashkov’s painting Moscow food. Bread (1924), which has not recently been displayed in the permanent exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery.
Along with the illustrious works, the exhibition includes a number of Mashkov’s less known paintings. Among them some will find a true discovery, A girl with sunflowers from a Moscow private collection, which has been considered lost until recently. It is one of the three key-note ‘portraits in a landscape’, created in 1930, when the artist, unwilling to join the Moscow fight for the place in the sun, declared that he was looking to “turn 100 percent towards the manufacture, that is, towards the easel” and left to work in the Mikhailovskaya village. The exhibition gives an opportunity, for the first time in 85 years, to see all three paintings together; two of them – Farmer with Pumpkins and Girl on the tobacco plantation – belong to Volgograd Mashkov Museum of Fine Arts.
The major part of the exhibition is composed of classical “museum” still lifes (1920-30s) and of chamber works of the latter ‘Abramtsevo period’ (1930-40s), for a total of about 40 works by Ilya Mashkov from private collections and state museums (among them, besides those mentioned: Perm State Art Gallery, Vologda State Art Gallery, Kaluga Museum of Fine Arts, Bryansk Museum of Fine Arts).
The exhibition is expected to feature the virtual presence of a pictorial ensemble by Mashkov, which now appears to be in a queer status of an “unknown masterpiece”. The six enormous wall paintings for the banquet hall of the Hotel Moskva (1937-1938) are currently unavailable for display: having been handed over to the State Museum of Architecture, they require restoration and suitable exhibition space. Some special part of the exhibition will be composed of eight sketches to the Hotel Moskva ensemble (1937) from a private collection.
Organisers of the exhibition regard Mashkov less as a tempered revolutionist and innovator and more as a self-confident classic of european painting, a visionary of Russian coloristic tradition, an outstanding teacher and an artist who devoted himself entirely to art, and suggest that Mashkov’s art is of most interest in its entirety.
Since the significance of a particular period is not a fixed value and is reliant on the needs of the time, the IN ARTIBUS suggests paying attention to what comprises the basis to Mashkov’s artistic process throughout its lifelong duration: the issues of colour, composition, mastery, and interconnections with the world art, that is, the fundamental issues of painting.