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Belova A.I. Art critic, a member of AIC ( International Association of Art Historians)

SMART BEAUTY Mark Smirnov. It is a new name in our art. Though, he belongs to the young generation of artists, he posses not only a vast creative potential, but also a wide practical experience in the actualization of his artistic projects. His distinguishing features are: extraordinary energy, power, total dedication to the cause of realization of themes and projects, chosen by him. Undoubtedly, this in part mercenary quality of character is very important to him, because main themes of his works are great aspects of human spirituality, such as, for example, themes of Orthodox Church, biblical stories, russian village. The desire to recreate the harmony of Russian society with the help of art can be discerned in all of his paintings. It is also a distinctive feature for various landscapes of Jerusalem, Italy, the Caucasus, Balkans and ancient Orient. It is significant to note, that the artist has got his personal understanding of a country, spiritual culture of which he knows perfectly. Works on theme Russian village are painted out of time-gradation. On these paintings Russia is eternal and traditional; here you can note, how revives the same strange and misty melancholy and thoughtfulness, that is peculiar to the our classics, so as Savrasov, Surikov, Polenov, Serov. It is concerned paintings, so as: “The snow is melting”, “Northern motif”, “Black cloud”, “Bad weather”, “Senezh lake”, “Haystacks”, “Lake. Evening”, “Near the cradle”, “Forest”, “Temple” et cetera. The perception of these works is not similar with airy, delicate landscapes of Italy, in them is also noticed the inner connection with our cultural tradition (Shedrin, Ivanov, Brjullov). His “Italian” works, for example: “Italian town”, “The sketch of a bay”, “Grand Canale”, “In the south of Italy”, “Florentine morning”, “Loving couple enamoured of Amalfi”, - are full of the calm and fresh south air. From these works we can see, how deeply is the author absorbed in the atmosphere of his work; all of his works are painted in a burst of inspiration. With a help of various artistic means and methods, the artist masterly opens the theme chosen by him. He improvises, it comes easy to him. The cycle of Balkanian paintings makes a great impression on the audience for its sketching accuracy, and the desire to represent local colour like a fragment of reality into a work of art. The author unvarnished represents a surrounding reality without trying to colour the truth, following the trends of fashion or gratifying whims of public. Adherence of spiritual values and honesty of master are also noticeable in the main and the most interesting cycle of paintings dedicated to the existence of Russian Orthodox Church. The author is an observer, who realizes a significance of true representation of reality, no matter is it a description of action ( “Eucharist”, “To the cross”, “Euchelaion”, “Epiphany”, “Holy Communion”, “Three Sacraments”, “Polyelaios”, “Confession”, “Anointing”, “Remembrance of the dead”) or a description of the interior of a temple (“Interior of the Dormition Cathedral”, “Holy gates”, “Interior of a temple”, “A Temple of the Holy Sepulchre”). It seems, that the artist is trying to solve the mysteries of Christian world outlook by means of comparison them inner structure of the Orthodox Temple. It can be revealed on paintings, which describe concrete situations (“Let God remember you in the Kingdom of Heaven”, “The monk”, “Cave of the Nativity”), images of the laity, priests and their interaction. The most interesting thing in these works is the pictorial method, with help of which they were painted. The mysterious semidarkness of the interiors, inherently consonant to the Orthodox temple, so harmonically spills over into the strange bright light – the symbol of divine in the depths of human mind. By the way, unique is the artistic importance of this method, without poignant contrasts, which are distinctive features of Caravadjo’s and Latur’s painting. The greatest features of painting by the authorship of M. Smirnov are an impressionistic temperament, dynamics of shape, pictorial accuracy and a fine play of semitones and penumbras. The coloration of his paintings basically is warm and fine, they show to the viewers a play of the author’s imagination. At times it seems, that some of them are painted under the influence of Korovin, - another coryphaeus of Russian culture, but it is only a subjective but nice impression, which is a sure sign of the author’s fine, selective taste, and an ability to use and to put into a practice his showy talents, education and temperament. At my opinion, the most successful part of his work is opening the theme of Russian orthodox. The author is really immersed in this material. Though, this theme often was an object of investigation in the creative work of great masters (Kramskoy, Polenov) and modern authors, the young author so finely finds methods to resolve the creative problem, what, undoubtedly, makes viewer be serious during the visual perception of his work on the whole. The cycle of works, connected with history of orthodoxy, Biblical theme, the cycle of Jerusalem landscapes and works which depict scenes from the Life of Jesus Christ – “Peter’s Renunciation”, “Feast in a house of Leviah”, “Dormition of Virgin Mary”, “Simeon. Bringing into the church”, “Lasar’s Resurrection”, “The Last Supper”, “The Threnody on Golgotha mount” and in addition to this “On the way to Jerusalem”, “Solomon's Temple”, “The view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives”, “the Wailing Wall”, “The Antony’s Tower”, “On the Eleon”, “Kedron’s riverbed”. It is noticeable, that in this cycle the author intuitively or intentionally keeps a classical Russian tradition (Ivanov, Polenov). The specific colouring of the author’s works at times even suggests that there is a continuity of tradition in Russian school of landscape painting, in the modern realistic art. The “realism” itself, which is often not likable by many art critics, in the creativity of this artist, look differently – not only like a favourable occurrence, but also like a natural phenomenon in the logical, rational and indispensable progress of modern Russian art. The fact of the matter is that, the continuity of tradition and the historical connection with the Big World, on the whole bases on the consecutive and efficient application of the best traditions of Russian and West European realistic schools of art.

Belova A.I. Art critic, a member of AIC ( International Association of Art Historians)