Palmov’s dogs, or Colour painting and childishness as an artistic method
Loving Ukraine in SiberiaViktor Nikandrovich Palmov was born in Samara. He studied art at the Penza and Moscow schools of painting, sculpture and architecture. He worked for the Moscow magazine LEF, later he moved to Ukraine, where he founded the Ukrainian Union of Artists and taught at the Kyiv Art Academy. He died of an unsuccessful operation at the age of 40. Ihor Dychenko, a collector and connoisseur of Palmov’s work, believed that the artist was intentionally "stabbed" on the operating table, since his views did not suit the government of the time. For a long time, the work of Viktor Nikandrovich fell out of sight of art critics, but now it is regaining its position. And this is wonderful, because once you see Palmov’s canvases, it is already impossible to forget them.
Palmov himself connected his artistic development with David Burliuk. Together they visited Siberia and Japan. In Siberia, Viktor Nikandrovich got acquainted with the life of… Ukrainian village.
Viktor Palmov. 1914 photo
"David Burliuk Ukrainized Palmov", Dmitry Gorbachev told Arthive. "In 1920, they visited Siberia, Zeleny Klyn area (aka Green Ukraine, because according to the 1926 census, 303 thousand Ukrainians lived there). There, Palmov first began to paint a real Ukrainian village. By the way, in 1918, Zeleny Klyn declared itself a part of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. There is evidence that its representatives even sent a telegram to the head of the UPR, Mykhailo Hrushevsky; however, he never replied it. But this meeting decided a lot in the fate of Viktor Palmov. As early as 1925, he moved to Kyiv, Ukraine forever."
Viktor Palmov. Village. Night.
Canvas, oil. 1929. Collection of the National Art Museum of Ukraine
Colour painting and childish drawingThe poet Nikolai Aseev described his impressions of Viktor Palmov’s paintings as follows: "Transparent tones, powerful structure of forms, unexpectedly hot colour. He knows how to pour this red-hot lava of colour into a constructive form born of his original artistic foresight with the self-control of a real master. Palmov carries all the signs of a world master, he absorbed the experience of Western European rationality with the fiery energy and will of a Scythian artist into his palette."
According to the artist, the significance of the canvas is determined by its emotional impact on the viewer. That is why a special role should be assigned to colour, since, as Palmov argued, the reality of the depicted is only perceived if an imprint (association, emotion) remains in the viewer’s imagination. Hence emerged a kind of artist’s manifesto: "I consider colour within the canvas as the main goal, but not a means. I see the
Palmov’s students recall how he gave them tasks: to create a canvas based on the nuances of one spectral colour. Professor Viktor Nikandrovich even composed still lifes of different objects of the same colour for his students.
The concept of "colour painting" developed by the artist was finally formed in the Kyiv period of the master’s work (1925—1929). Viktor Nikandrovich tried to change the art vector towards spontaneity, unexpectedness, in order to focus on the uniqueness of the moment of perception and imagination. For this purpose, he first filled the pictorial base with coloured spots, and then painted object images, which, in his opinion, corresponded to their psycho-emotional mood. Palmov himself wrote about this: "I am interested in coloured expression, I try to understand my thematic stimulus as colour before I imagine it as an additional means of influence."
"Viktor Palmov loved children very much. And he was very serious about their work," art critic Dmitry Gorbachev told the Arthive correspondent. "After all, he not only painted on his canvases in a childish manner, he often even signed his paintings, as a child would sign them: naive and illiterate."
The main thing in Palmov’s paintings is still colour. Therefore, the artist’s canvases "do not sound" in reproductions. They need to be perceived alive in order to see the natural colour, and not how it is displayed even by modern devices.
Identified by the heelAfter the artist’s sudden death at the age of forty, paintings by Viktor Palmov could be purchased for a pittance. Collector Ihor Dychenko recalled how he discovered one of the most famous works by the painter, the Beach: "I managed to find those who kept some of Palmov’s works in Kyiv. They asked a symbolic amount about 28—30 roubles for one of his paintings then… One day, while visiting them, I noticed a corner of the canvas protruding from their cabinet, on which a heel was depicted. My Don Juan imagination immediately completed the rest. The canvas hidden behind the closet was Viktor Palmov’s finest Beach. I also found his Ukrainian Village painting there, the one for which he received his medal in Japan."
"Palmov's wife, Kapitolina, could not swim," the
In the Beach, one can trace what Palmov considered the goal of his art, about which he wrote: "My task is to arrange one colour to another so that all the colours in the picture area acted as a common chord of colour sound."
V. Palmov. Self-Portrait with Wife. Canvas, oil. 1920. From the collection of I. Dychenko
So why are the dogs different?But back to our dogs. More precisely, to Palmov’s dogs. Why are they so different and similar at the same time?
"It is not surprising that Palmov painted dogs so often: they are protectors of the Ukrainian village," the art critic answered. "However, why they are different — this is a question for everyone looking at the picture to decide for himself."
In any case, colour is to be followed.