The art of Palekh is a part of the
world culture. Lacquer miniature which appeared in the beginning
of the 20th century oil the basis of old Russian painting brought
Palekh a world fame. Before that for 3 centuries Palekh was known
in Russia as one of the great centers of icon-painting. After the
revolution of 1917, because of persecution religion, former painters
started to look for new jobs where they could use their experience.
The decision was found thanks to a unique talent of Ivan Golikov
and a talent for organisation of his brother-in-law A. Glazunov.
Using experience of Lukutino miniature and art traditions of old
Russian painting, Golikov started to create miniatures. His charming
and original works fascinated his former colleagues. Even their
first works found a broad response among experts and public in Russia
and abroad. First exhibitions of Palekh in Paris and Venice made
a sensation. Golikov's miniatures, in spite of their small size,
expressed a spirit of time rather well. His couples, troika driving,
rendezvous, dances, battles, beautiful in form and colour, were
full of dynamic rhythm, reflecting the time of rapid changes.
In 1924, seven Palekh artists have
founded Old Painting Artel. Thus a new page in the history of the
craft has been opened, and soon lacquer miniature got world recognition.
Folklore way of thinking, richness of content, figurativeness -
that's a typical feature of the traditional Palekh art. Folklore
energy always fed and is still feeding the art of miniaturist-painters.
Genre motifs, as a rule, have retrospective character, it is not
only the tribute to historical memory, poetization of the past,
but a search of harmony in eternal themes in which is expressed
the charm and appeasing beauty of ordinary human deeds and fun
Classical literary works toward which
every generation of Palekh painters turns their attention every
time sound differently when expressing our reality. Every time well-known
masterpieces find new life. Every artist «reads» one and the same
fabula differently and adds not only his emotional perception and
professional fulfillment but also makes image in his own way, introduces
different nuances, thus reaching a sharp contemporary expression
of a theme. As far back Goethe, speaking of his understanding of
art mentioned that painters using the same fabula and characters
as before change and transform them in a new way. Having received
during Perestroika the freedom for creative work unseen before,
painters used this freedom differently. Elder generation of high
professionals remained loyal to classical themes: folklore motives,
literary sources. They are devoted to lofty perception of life and
their works are poetical images of the world.
Mastering Palekh painting technique
is a durable and hard work which permits to create painting corresponding
to a high image of Palekh. Learning at Palekh art school for 5 years,
future artists get to know elements of the craft and only later,
after many years of work together with experienced teachers, step
by step, they master the essence of the image structure of the Palekh
miniature, certainly mastering the painting technique. Future artist
starts his training from copying the works that lets him to bring
the painting skill to perfection. At the same time, he tries to
create his own composition, developing the image-bearing way of
thinking. Without it a painter is condemned to make merely copies,
only changing and modifying them a little.
Majority of Palekh painters being believe: even in the soviet times,
turned back to icon an miniature painting of Biblical content.Turning
to icon-painting is a complex process not only for Palekh. If creation
of the unique center of lacquer miniature which made Palekh world
famous happened thanks to the high style of old Palekh painting,
then the revival of icon painting is taking place thanks to preservation
of icon painting technique in miniature, spiritual harmony of its
image. Russian Orthodox icon is inexhaustible, rich material having
no analogues. This experience and life itself prompt understanding
of icon image to the painter.
In Palekh there live several dynasties
of painters who continue the work of their parents and grandparents.
Many couples, when both of them are painters and also children are
painters show the best result of the joint art. In this hereditary
succession we see one of the conditions of viability of Palekh art
and its development in future. In spite of great changes in the
art of Palekh artists, miniature still justifies an epithet «fairy».
This is expressed not only in predominance of fairy-tale themes,
but in a structure of images itself, which are full of loft fantasy
poetry. The most popular motif of Palekh miniature always was and
still remained an image of Zhar-Ptitsa (Fire-Bird). Fairy-tale characters
were looking for the bird which was not only a symbol of beauty
thanks to its sunlight feathering, but also a symbol of eternal
youth and happiness. Zhar-Ptitsa for decades was an emblem of Palekh
art, reflecting the essence of beautiful and young art existing
in spite of all historical and life shocks. Palekh lacquer miniature
is not only the embodiment of historical memory and national originality
of the nation