Face-to-face to Spectator

Saint-Petersburg artist Jury Anatolievich Vasiliev ( b. 1950) – considered to be expirienced master of graphic. He had made it clear that he is capable to fluently handing the sharpened pencil, the soft woter-color brush and the steel graving needle. He had borrowed all his craftsmanship in any woking tool towards the Academy of Fine Arts, wich he graduated in 1974 at the artistic shop directed by Professor A.F. Pahomov and V.A. Vetrogonsky, and also to his father – Anatoly Iliitch,- the outstanding painter and the person leaving the son his testoment not only concerning his technical devices, but, the main point, his careful attitude to the genuine fine art’s criterias, as well.
During the 30 years of his creative activity Y. Vasiliev had travelled far and wide along Russia, holding his album and easel, visited different pants of Europe, painted a number of landscapes and several series of prints and paintings. Having sich considerable art-portfolio, the painter is constaintly engaged in various exhibitions, both home and abroad, so called modelled and privat chamber-type.
His wide skill range was supposed to cover all subjects being taught in Academy, though those were the years, filled with answeres and questions, checks and errors, hot arguments and friedly instructions, so as the result of this both the print techique and the book illustration’s one have been studied by him in details. Nobody could have ever supposed the fact that someday it will be profitable to paint not only classic literature illusrations or to children’s picture-books, but also to the Scriptures, Russian Orthodox Saints Life Histiries, so nobody during the epoch of the “militant atheism” time, had ever Kept this facts in mind. Feeling the mixed emotion of curiosity and awe, the painter had agreed to illustrate the book series, dedicated to recently strange topic – “Equal to the Apostles St. Brothers Cyrill and Methodius” and another one – “The Short Life History of St. Olga – The Great Russian Princess”.
It is obvious that the historical janres illusrations – comprise the complex and contradictory occupation. How could you depict the past, without positioning yourself as “dry-as dust pedant” – record – keeper? Is it possible to use fantasy elements, in case of depictiny about exact undisputable fact? What colors could be used to paint about “the far-of past and the long ages ancient gone legends”?
The similiar issues have been frequently set in front of Yury Vasiliev, bearing in mind, the fact, that the illustration priority was not the literure essays, but the orthodox Russian history episodes.
The painter’s intention left behind the imitation of Ancient Russ, or to duplicate Vasnetsov’s classic style, be means of modern, newly-made painting. He was inspired with the commitment feeling to sacral elements, studied the Bisentium heritage, icon-painting or church mosaics. Directly within the series of illustrations to saint’s life histories had appeared the solemn, monumental figures, of saints, the church architecture fragments, and multi-colored mixtures. Every serie of books, might it be the cover or “Putting into the coffin” from “Cirill and Methodius”, “Adoration of Magis from “Great Princess Olga” is secretly glowing with submissive tints sparkling. Resembling the ancient frescos, being covered with ages – old patina, coming down the christian pestor’s books being submerged into the special world of profit-free icon-painters, Vasiliev hed gained the unique possibility to re-evaluate the old heritage of classic realistic narrative style.
In case the church icon-painters realized themselves, beholding to the strict and fixed ancient canons, reaching the creative summit, then espectially for the student of “liberal arts”, as if reflecting on the deeper field for tests and self-expression.
The humble participation in collection process of russian Ortodox Church Library shuld stumulate the sense of beauty and the time evaluation as well. The illustrations series performed in varying degrees as some sequel to them, so more ingenious threads have been spread to another compositions – “Hunting”, “Travel the seven seas”, “The storm in Toledo”.
These genious sheets convincing us in the fact that Vasiliev is a highly-gifted stylist. He could freely and easily operate various special techniques of differnt trends and epochs, without copying any special historical style, but confronting it with some convinient art equivalent. It might be assumed by the mere glance at picture paraphrases of Caravagio and Carl Brullov’s works “Bag-pipers”, “Vacchanallia”, Italian girl”, “Sleeping musicians”. Mostly familiar “Lute-player”, “Italian beaties” – images have been tranformed by Vasiliev with kind irony, as is reminding the audience about the sweet longings of creativity, about feast of colores, about festival nature of fine arts.
The professional Universalism of graphic-painter apperently doesn’t liberate him so far from some inner contradictions. Becouse the literature process over the book and the monumental composition’s studies, can be combined together, being different spiritual conditions, called. In first – there is a special working process’s rythm, the fixed terms and teste of respisibility in front of others book writing co-authors. While in process of painting the liberal composition, on contrary, one could afford himself “to day dream”, and to bathe within your fantasies, without devouring relish to spare the hours, days or monthes. During such happy “flight” spirit have been made the terms of pictures, “Phawn”, “Marine town”, “Arlequin and Pierro”.
So far the graving print is apperently refers the amazing grace. The printing technique is abundant with unexpected chances, enabling the artist to express his genios spirit. The novelly effect is chosen and based on the very technique’s speciality, in some moments it could be expressed into amazing success. The best evidance to it had turned out to be the latest series of prints, named: “The masters of Tverskaya Land”, “Russian towns”.
In the same was the monotypia technique, which was used by Yury Vasiliev, recently, had turned to be the swiftest path to success for him. While printing process, the prints are aquiring the complex color range and look like living surface.
Watching the “Strangers” print’s series, you obviously can’t but feel the real spell of fine art’s possibilities.
The artist’s workshop displaed estamps, water-colors and still-life pictures playing the lead with its magnetic charm. Besides here you can see the oil-painted canvases. These are the close relativie’s portraits. Painting the portrait, Vasiliev is kinding behind the simple and trustful formula. He depicts model, being within a “tet-a-tet” diloque with viewer. So that’s the real source of swift and sincere spell of the artist’s wife portrait “Summer”, his daughter Olga, and self-portrait etc.
You can judge the landscape compositions, by the water-color series, paited during the summer fild-works in Europen countries. Every year Vasiliev goes travelling at etude-scetches, making stops at Nothern German towns, roaming the higway’s spance from Paris to Perinean or Alp’s mountains range. Imbued with heady mix of charm and talent are the Norvegian impressions: “Polar Night”, “September in the Lofotens”, “Fjords-Fjords”, “Wind in the fjord”.
Melody and lyrical charm are characteristic for French period pastels: “Dophin’s square”, “Point de Neph”, “Avignon’s street”, “The wineyards of Provance”. The artist appreciated the chance for meeting the people in Amu-Darya oasis in the Middle Asia. In the forlorn and area such free-spirited works as:”Kara-Kum desert”, “Amu-Darya’s river valley” have been painted.
The painter Yuri Vasiliev had never missed his chance to observe both – the nature and the human life-style, his acting ability within hia own dreams or inside the text of the illustrated book to find a new and full-bodied motiff.
Finding magnetic script-line and skillfully rendered motiff, jast enabling to take the audience world by storm. And within the world of free-spirited mental values, what kind of reward could be more precious or challenging for an artist?

Professor N.N. Gromoff