Arkhip Kuindzhi. Evening in Ukraine.
1878. Oil on canvas. 81 x 163.
The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1901 Kuindzhi made up his mind to show some of his hidden works to the choice public specially invited for the occasion. One can imagine how risky it was for the artist, who did not exhibit his works for twenty years, to show them to the connoisseurs of art. He displayed the paintings «Evening in the Ukraine», «The Dneper», the third version of the «Birch Grove» and «Christ in the Gethsemane Garden» (all 1901).
One may surmise that the «Evening in the Ukraine» was shown in a somewhat reworked state-he had exhibited the picture as Evening in 1878. Strictly speaking, it should be dated 1878-1901. The painting is evidently the most illustrative of Kuindzhi's creative method. The effect of complementary colours was brought here to its highest limit-the turqouise, being juxtaposed with the crimson, enhanced the effect of the light which was glowing on the walls of peasant houses.
The colour lent the whole scene a sense of enchanted immobility, an unusual repose of some unearthly vision. Kuindzhi's decorative style has here revealed itself to the utmost. The image has a folkloric character, the impression being achieved by its slightly simplified, as if »naive» drawing, reminiscent of folk primitives. The decorative impression was achieved by means of several devices: the system of complementary colours enhancing one another, the composition recalling us of stage decoration (with its cut-off objects, their stage-like display and the suggestion of coulisses), the monumental generalization of objects and the applied colour spots.
Translated from Russian by Athena
Come out on rooftop. Bow down…
Come out and bow to four of world’s corners
North, South, East, West.
From the rooftop stretch out your palm --
Water and Sun, Clouds and Fire… Evening is calm.
Take in the world’s beauty, resplendent and dormant.
Saffron fog makes tattered torch flares blurry.
Taffeta gauze-drops in wet slender rays.
Towards the sky palms are raised up unhurried
Cloudlike parchment - sunset writ of past day.
Time-extinguished, dissolving and turning
Thoughts and events, ships and dreams slowly flee
Saved for that final journey of journeys –
Earth's best delusion in my memory.