Mikhail Romadin is a poet, but in no small measure also a philosopher, a modern sociologist, her analyst. This explains why the mood of recovery, admiration for the living beauty of people and cities is replaced in his art by a cold demonstration, when it is invaded by soulless architectural masses and human crowds resembling a collection of mannequins.
The polarity of creative searches, the mutual presence and the change in them of the finest spiritual contemplation and the threatening escalation of the conflict also characterizes him as a contemporary artist.
At the turn of the 1950’s and 1960’s, a new generation of artists came to life. It was necessary to refuse something, to choose landmarks, to feel in own way the national and world experience of painting accumulated over the centuries. In the house of the father Mihaila Romadina known and loved by many landscape Nicholas Romadina, Pavel Kuznetsov does not happen again, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Pavel Korin – masters in the art of which this turn admired the combination of poetic looseness and self-discipline of the creator, the love in the world and dedication to the high traditions of art .
But in the late 1950s and a decade later, like many other young artists who tried to find their own landmarks in art, Mikhail Romadin was particularly interested in the paintings of leading foreign masters of the 20th century who were forbidden. Now it is difficult to convey the acuteness of this situation. It was not easy to be liberated from Stalinism. In the Museum of Fine Arts named after A.S. Pushkin began to show banned for several decades Impressionists, as well as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, did not stop the heated debate around the art of Pablo Picasso. So young artists, actors, directors, and with them the young philologists, historians, and journalists gathered in the scientific community to discuss the student published in the Literary Gazette article creator of the famous History of Russian Art Igorya Grabarya About impressionism, which advocated the conquest of this artistic movement. Naturally, in addition to impressionism, this student discussion was also about other areas in the art of the twentieth century, freedom of creativity, freedom of speech.
In the youth environment, disputes and the boiling of passions began in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a sign of a real life, corresponding to a time of change. After a long period of isolation in the creative community of society, a truly insatiable thirst for discovery emerged. In the circle of beginning artists there was a real stir: the younger generation re-discovered for themselves the masters of the “Parisian” school, the picturesque works of the group “Nabi”, expressionists, surrealists. This was facilitated by getting acquainted with albums, reproductions, as well as art exhibitions from the collections of France, the USA, and other countries. Traveling abroad just started. The real sensation was opened in 1961 by the French Exhibition in Sokolniki, and within it to pay special attention to the Moscow Humanitarian circle is the largest and most serious display of French painting of the XX century, the impressions of which are gone from the minds of viewers so far. As Mikhail Romadin recalled, she had an exceptional creative impact on him and his peers. From the masters of the “Paris School”, starting with Amadeo Modigliani, from the tapestries Zhana Lyursa to fancy weaving in the schedule Zhana Korzu, sharp rhythmic structures received then we have known Bernard Buffet, semi-abstract compositions by Pierre Soulages, exhibition which was successfully held recently at the Tretyakov Gallery.
It is curious that with many of these artists Michael Romadin met, for example, with Jean Corse and Bernard Buffet, subsequently became friends.
Many children draw. Among them there are genuine talents, there are also those who, with the help of pencils, transfer stereotypically the circle of motives they saw on paper. For someone made in early childhood and remains unclaimed, forgotten, is only the subject of parental delight. Drawings of Misha Romadin are not like that. “I was a room boy.
He did not play in the yard, read books and drew all the time, “he recalled. Drawing, most often with a pencil, later with a pen, became a genuine passion for the future artist. Perhaps, even then, as a child, the desire to become a high-class draftsman, which in young years was realized to a considerable extent in graphic compositions and the first picturesque paintings, was born. With special love Misha depicted birds, beetles, spiders. Then came the turn of the fish, presented in complex foreshortenings in beautiful green tones. It was a living drawing, not compatible with boring academic productions. In it, there was a sense of enthusiasm, a sense of tact, self-reliance, and commitment to certain motives and images. The sharpest and most dynamic drawings appeared at Misha Romadin at the age of 13 ~ 14 years, when he painted pegasus, chivalric scenes inspired by Jericho, from different points. In the best of them, a holistic sense of composition, expressiveness, monumentality – the features that so expressively revealed in the works of Romadin in the years of maturity, became apparent. The fact that all these children’s exercises were of interest not only for the painters and graphic artists who visited the house of the Romadins is evidenced by a film shot at the Higher Courses of Directors and Screenwriters in 2002. It captured the sharp outlines of the mass scenes, which subsequently brought the artist success.
Sometimes the influence of these recognitions and conversations was very obvious, sometimes it touched the creative process with other modern and classical samples, but somehow helped to improve the professional skill, enriched the feeling of plastic painting. In the performance of the young artist in 1962, the image of the cock clearly felt the influence of Jean Lürs. In the painters, who somehow gravitated toward the development of the popular abstractionism in Europe in the 1950s, Nicholas de Stael and Maurice Estefe, Romadin studied some composition techniques.
At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, some Moscow painters viewed abstract art as the banner of creative freedom. The overwhelming majority, especially the older generation and those who sought to sharply update realism, return art to the lost role of the researcher of the people’s life in Stalin’s years, perceived it as a kind of sign.
For Mikhail Romadin, an artist who was interesting first and foremost self-figurative, abstract art as a style and manner was attractive only for a moment. As a rule, both then and later he was for him an element of search, a kind of “simulator”.
However, this interest was the reason for the gap in the family. For Nikolai Romanin, abstraction seemed to be something far from a poetic comprehension of the world, a disregard for the values of Russian realistic art. Michael, along with his young wife Viktoria Dukhina, left his father’s house, Nikolai Romadin, and began living at the Perlovka station near Moscow. But Michael never forgot and does not forget his father. After his death lovingly preserves his work, together with Konstantin Paustovsky wrote a book about his life and work, published by the publishing house “White City”. But in the late 1960s everything was more complicated, the sharpness of the creative opposition that arose then was great, although a few years after the conflict between father and son, there was an equally rapid reconciliation.
This happened in the house of the Romadins, the temporary demarcation to some extent reflected the heat of passion around the search for new ways of art, which occurred at that time among artists.
However, the creative opposition between adherence to figurativeness and abstractionism was then in art is by no means the only one. In the very understanding of figurative painting, its tasks and forms at the turn of the 1950s-1960s and the decade that followed, there were considerable differences. For many artists, it was important to depict the chauffeur or calf, the builders of hydroelectric power stations or virgin lands, fishermen from Kamchatka, or the reindeer herders walking through the taiga, to poeticize their workdays. Mikhail Romadin was not alien to the comprehension of any production processes. In dynamically presented scenes with the image of metallurgists, performed by him during student practice in different graphic techniques, the relations between figures and space were actively and very accurately found. The specific subject world – helmets, workers’ tools, stoves in workshops – is interpreted in this graph as a kind of environment, not devoid of romantic mystery, inextricably linked with the fiery birth of metal. Even then it was obvious that the future artist interested in a variety of topics and subjects. The problem was the choice of the angle of view, in the task that he sets for himself as a graphic artist or painter.
But, of course, addictions somehow made themselves felt. In this swiftly and relentlessly moving time Mikhail Romadin did not want to be the registrar of some of his episodes, even very noteworthy. He, including a certain part of his colleagues, as a rule, graduated from the Institute of Cinema or the Institute of Theater Arts, was fascinated by the creation of such images in which the ideal and vital characteristic, modern rhythms and the thought of eternity were lively and intricate.
The searches of the sixties, if not divided into groups, are today sometimes perceived as the art of storm and onslaught. In fact, there was also a place for thinking away from reality, contemplation of beauty, premonitions of the end of the world. The open demonstrativeness of the programmers “hardrovostsev” Michael Romadin preferred then fantasy paintings, in which the portrait and still life, architectural constructions and fragments of nature were actively and harmoniously combined.
Unlike those artists who gravitated to the legacy of Cezanne and Old Russian painting, his landmark was originally the painting of Italian quattrocento. His picture, begun in 1964, is the so-called Reminiscence of Quattrocento (1964-2002). In it, sincerity and at the same time conquering the refinement of Italian art of the 15th century is recognized in the peculiar flattening of women’s silhouettes, in graphically ornamental costumes of figures, specific rendering of architectural forms. Naturally, it clearly reads and signs of the artistic age closer to the young artist (the monochrome coloring gravitates towards the “severe style”), references to artists of the 1910s-1920s (the alienated statics of forms in the spirit of the leader of the “metaphysical realism” Giorgio de Chirico) moments of catastrophism (unexpectedly placed at the very edge of dilapidated buildings, chairs) and mysticism (strangely clinging to the drapery column). And yet in a few perspectives can be traced to the Italian masters of the XV century. The picturesque dominants and the intriguing simultaneity of the episodes, not secondary in nature, the visibility and encryption of the “Italian primitives”, as we called them at the beginning of the XX century, when P.P. Muratov wrote his remarkable book Images of Italy, – all this worried, inspired a certain tonality of ideas.
In the poetics and stylistics of the picture of Romadin The memory of the quattrocento begins to form an exciting and far from speculative balance of harmony and expression, fiction and direct reference to reality, tradition and modernity, the search of which can be found in further periods of the artist’s creative evolution.
One more and very important problem can be traced in this painting of Romadin, as subsequently in all his work, – intensive and enthusiastic development of modern forms of the painting. Already in his first experiments (Memoirs of Quattrocento, Invitation to the Chess Party, 1964), such conjugation of pictorial and graphic moves, such plasticity, such a game with registers of space, reveals a will to thinking having a special internal logic.
In this peculiar combination of ideas and forms there are techniques of classical art. Albums and books on antiquity, the Renaissance, architecture and sculpture of Ancient Egypt, European paintings of the XVII century surrounded Michael from childhood. So the father brought up his taste, the idea of the completeness of the composition and its individual elements, the feeling of a high creative scale of fine art. Naturally, different preferences prevailed in different years. But the classical legacy somehow took part in the formation of the idea of the painting, it helped clarify the architecture in it, it determined its motive.
Through the classics to the present – such was the “route” of a series of works by Mikhail Romadin at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s. Especially successful in the work of the young artist was 1960, when his paintings appeared Rest of Venus, Venus “Fontainebleau”, Mystery with the bride and groom and others. The image of the nude female figure occupying almost all the space was a kind of bridge to the classics. At the same time, there was no epigonism and no retrospectivism. Classical examples motivated him to integrity and monumentalism, suggesting variations of modern stylistics. Romadin and repelled from the samples of classics, comprehended with their help the patterns of artistic form and used them to convey the characteristic of the middle of the twentieth century, a combination of harmony and tension.
The classics were never perceived by him as something museum, not requiring commentaries, author’s rethinking, sometimes even a well-known intrigue. In a series of paintings, united by the motif of Venus, there is both an elevation and a living beauty, not without eroticism. On the whole, it is easy, but not without contrasting connections and known hyperbolization, there are in them relations between our present-day notions of beauty and expressiveness and those claimed by famous artists of the 16th-17th centuries. Of course, these searches did not always correspond to the chronology of the history of art. Following the Italian proto-renaissance of the 17th century (Velazquez, and then the Mannerists, painters from the Prague circle of Rudolf XI, the master of the baroque), Romadin was attracted even then (at the turn of the 1950s-1960s) and later (in the 1970s-1990s) , in varying degrees and functions, including in the creation of images that contain a conflict or, conversely, the strengthening of harmonic balance.
However, although in the art of Mikhail Romadin there is a basic orientation, it did not develop in a clear sequence, in a once and for all a certain connection of the stages. Whether this artist applied to easel painting or work in the theater and cinema, illustrating books or symbolic portraits, he always remained an experimenter. At the same time, experimentalism never turned into an end in itself, but was only a method of natural creative existence. Mikhail Romadin is an artist who is hungry for new impressions, but not inclined to procrastinate in implementing his cherished designs, showing interest in new horizons of art, but far from mechanically following one or another modern trends, fantasizing in different styles, without stopping at the same time before conjugating antipodes.
The interesting connection in the activity of Mikhail Romadin of painting, graphics, cinema, theater, and literature speaks volumes. He works as a theater and cinema artist, makes graphic design of books, writes plays, essays, stories. These impudent impromptu in various spheres of culture, often focused in masterfully executed works, are in variable relations with each other – from denial to interaction. In the cinema they receive a continuation in different versions of the techniques and subjects announced in the painting and theater, the motifs of the stories go over to the graphics, the artist’s eyes close to the professional vision of the operator, many determine in the composition of the pictures … But conflicts also arise. Sometimes Romadin wants to drop everything and give freedom of explosive picturesqueness. At another time the dominance is theatricality. Compete among themselves, making an interesting parallel, textural accents in painting and cinema. Such interactions and bonds, to a certain extent become the development of the tradition of famous masters of painting, theater, cinema of the XX century, make the art of Romadin alive and unexpected.
The direction and scale of his search in this complex work is shown by the fruitful collaboration of Mikhail Romadin with his contemporaries. He worked with the outstanding filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Andron Konchalovsky, the desire to cooperate with him as a cinema artist expressed and Antonioni. In the theater, one of his original plans Romadin tried to implement in 1964, working under the guidance of the outstanding director Nikolai Okhlopkov over the scenery for Goethe’s Faust. Fruitful was his comradeship with Valentin Pluchek, who was at the same time in the prime of his talent, during the production of the stage scenario of the play by Alexander Tvardovsky, Terkin, that excited the then domestic intellectual world.
The testing of new ideas and techniques was clearly traced from the very beginning of the creative path of Mikhail Romadin. One example of this is his work in film.
Participating in the idea and filming of the film The First Teacher (1963-1964), he, together with the director Andron Konchalovsky and the operator Georgi Rerberg, created a clear and monumental film that so astonished viewers, critics and movie buffs. Figures in national headdresses and long robes, pensively and silently rising among the valleys and sharp mountain ranges, attracted many to their internal significance. Kirghizia refreshed the young artist’s feelings, but did not take him to exotic captivity. Return to the individual motives of this film had a different meaning. So, for example, in the painting Burning Elitschek (1964), a silently sitting girl in a national costume with a flame on her head is depicted. Here there is a style and dignity, something natural and something extraordinary, a mystery and simplicity.
Although what was declared by Romadin in the First Teacher, already in the coming years, the basic principle, which was talented and partly realized by him in this film, was transformed. It was about the fundamental changes in the work of the artist in the cinema. Until recently, it was conceived as a thorough preliminary drawing of every future movie shot. Particular importance was given to the first plan, which was carefully and accurately worked out, the rest was planned in total. This was the work of the famous master of film-making Nikolai Egorov, so the great Alfred Hitchcock worked as an artist by profession, first drawing everything and taking pictures accordingly.
But new times are new songs. As for some other representatives of his generation, the film project for Romadin in the 1960s could no longer be reduced to only a certain amount of compositional devices, to obvious relationships of distant and near plans.
The principle of uniform loading of each frame was also unacceptable. Romadin also refused from their strict sequence, which, in his opinion, narrowed the possibilities of experimenting the artist, director, operator. The film project seemed to him a clot of the film’s artistic idea. The role of the artist did not decrease, but, on the contrary, it increased. He was one of the main creators of not only the stylistics and poetics of the film, but his whole concept.
Domestic and foreign newsreels of the 1960s and subsequent decades published sketches by Romadin for the film by Andrei Tarkovsky Solaris. In one of them, in the corridor of the interplanetary station in the silvery-gray and pale-green tones, among the instruments, cold supports and structures brisk with red keys, a person’s figure, swept by flame, is moving swiftly. In this fantasy of Romadin, the phantoms of technology and the living human image, the cosmic inevitability and echoes of earthly memories – the miniature images of city houses and trees interspersed in the panel of the porthole – are sharply intertwined. In it, people saw the symbol of time, when the man’s jerk into space was powerfully designated, and no less expressive warning about the future human drama.
The idea of insecurity of a person and at the same time about its value as a bearer of high aesthetic and ethical norms is also confirmed in a sketch with St. Sebastian. With all the tragedy of this image, the return to the theme of beauty and sublimity of man in the era of the offensive of technicalism was rightly seen as a humanistic act, although in the film itself this scene for various reasons was not included. However, creating a new cycle of sketches for this film by the order of the Museum of Cinema, the artist, remembering his reflections together with Tarkovsky, included this story as well.
The life of the sketches of Romadin to Solyas-rice several decades after the release of the Tarkovsky film continues to this day. Center for Contemporary Art Cartier in Paris showed them with great enthusiasm at the exhibition “One Real World”. Romadin talks about this exhibition: “Solaris is generally presented at the exhibition as a highlight, and I with my sketches as a living classic. In a separate room on four screens, a show was shown, collected from fragments of Solaris. On the other floor visitors can see the original of this classic film. The German composer Michael Obet wrote the opera Solaris on the canvas of the film. The year before, I took part in the work on the film by German director Andrei Uzhiki Out of the Present. At the exhibition “One Real World” one could see this film as well. ”
A number of watercolors by Romadin is dedicated to Texarkana. Here is how the artist describes him: “Texarkana is a typical town of the Far West. Wooden houses with wooden columns and verandas lined the main street. Polesadniki … In the central square – the pride of the city, the theater, preserved from the century before last. In Texarkana was born a great musician – the creator of Reig-Time Scott Joplin … “. In America, Romanov’s enthusiasm for modern music and jazz was actively manifested. The artist also looked attentively at the architecture; in his own way, read the connection of times in it, and in large cities he also discovered annoying exaggeration of scale and deification of new materials, generated by dictate of modern technicalism.
Trying to understand in America a characteristic, the artist did not chase after exotic things. As in other travels (in Turkey, Tunisia, Spain), he was primarily interested not in what was evident, impressed with its decorative features, but the very structure of national life, its unique melody. This view prevails in the Indian series of Romadin. In India, he was thrice. And each time his attraction to this country, its culture and traditions grew. Experiencing a lot of interest to them, rooted Romadin is close to the living beauty of Indian cities. Like a cameraman, he looks from the exotic palm-lined streets to the young guys standing in line, looks in at the shops where jewelry is sold, in a miniature photo studio. As something mystical, but at the same time full of life, he depicts exquisite and sensual statues of Hindu gods. In all the plots of this series there is no fleeting reporting. Behind the artist’s lack of effects, the manner, characteristic details of life are opened benevolently and vigorously noticed by the manner of the artist. The rhythmic pauses that arise in the composition of the sheets reflect the concentration on something essential for the national mentality. In many street motives, the artist is attracted by the naturalness of movements, peculiar muzzhalnost, which are guessed in the gait of people, the plastic of their traditional attire.
Every year Romadin makes several trips to different countries. “This twist does not bother me,” says the artist, “a sense of latitude and romantic distances is born. Like William Blake, when I travel, I steam over the world. ” “Geographic” mobility of Romadin is an interesting “part” of his enthusiastic knowledge of the life of people and things. They are also related to another of its qualities, which has already been mentioned, by gravitation toward experimentalism. Changes do not take place for the sake of change, not because of a desire to eclipse everyone with something unprecedented, but because of an ineradicable desire to try oneself in new types and genres of art, to develop new variants of artistic synthesis.
The creation of modern forms of painting is the core of these searches. In some periods, in Romadin, it was concentrated in a single series of works, an example of which can serve as “panoramic pictures”
then it was stimulated by a return to some previously declared themes and plastic ideas. The so-called “kinetic pictures” of the artist became evidence of the latter. They, like his other works, are by no means the result of a reckless admiration for fashion trends in the art of our day. Kineticism was popular in the West in the early 1960s. At this time in Moscow there was a small group of artists close to this direction. These searches, like many of their colleagues abroad, have been turned to the space of the city. Attempts were made to reduce the pressure on the human psyche of heavy heavy buildings, to give new dynamism to the urban environment. This was to be the moving lights.