The painting “Eternal Russia,” one of the artist’s central works, has been disseminated in hundreds of thousands of reproductions throughout the world. Just as with “Mystery of the Twentieth Century,” we must acknowledge the genuinely innovative creative talent of the artist, who shows us in one panorama the entire history of Russia.
There is no other painting in the world of art that can compare to this work in both content and complexity. I recall the words of one visitor at an exhibit: “My God, what power this painting has! I feel proud that I was born a Russian! Many here at the exhibit are asking, ‘Who’s this or that figure?’ And it’s wonderful that visitors have begun to learn so much about Russia and to feel their connection with our great history.”
It should be noted that with this work Glazunov has assumed the role, above all, of a historian who sees the origins of the Russian Slavic tribe in the dark antiquity of the “Rig Veda” and the “Avesta.” In describing the early Russian church frescoes, one pre-revolutionary critic used the term “kovrovy,” referring to the fact that the patterns and colors were interwoven as if in an oriental carpet. And in fact, the jewel-like coloristic effect of this great work by Ilya Glazunov astounds even his critics. The painting measures 3 x 6 meters. In contrast to many of his colleagues, Glazunov was never given government commissions. The great artist’s genuine fame was achieved as the result of the enormous lines of visitors to his exhibits, both at home and abroad. The West German news magazine “Der Spiegel” once wrote: “He who is against Glazunov is against Russia.”
The extraordinary vision of Glazunov the artist, historian and philosopher is realized in the stunningly beautiful harmony of color and his confident use of foreshortening, grouping, and compositional rhythm. At the present time, in the diversity of his artistic aspirations and accomplishments, Ilya Glazunov has no equal!
The historian, the artist likes to say, is someone who bases his arguments on documents and not ideological dogma. “All my conscious life I have been concerned with history. And this is why: I cannot agree with many of the conceptions of our anti-Rus’ historians who continue to expound the racist doctrines of German scholars such as Schlozer and others. I cannot agree with L. Gumilev, who today is lauded to the skies, and others. I have always detested Marxism-Leninism, which claimed that the proletariat had no Fatherland and that history is a struggle between classes. I repeat that I base my arguments on documents and on the works of Russian historians of the 19th century, beginning with the brilliant Lomonosov, and including Yegor Klassen, Gil’ferding, Ivan Zabelin, and professor Paramonov, known to us under the pseudonym ‘Sergei Lesnoi,’ who recently passed away in Australia.”
The painting “Eternal Russia” is a textbook of Russian history in its genuine majesty, a song of the glory of our nation. They used to say that “icons are books for the illiterate.” The paintings of Glazunov are open books for all who wish to know and better understand Russia.