Mikhail Shishin Mikhail Shishin

Dear Readers!

Here is the next issue of “The Art of Eurasia” journal. Working on it brought us a lot of interesting discoveries, we hope that this is waiting for you too.

The new issue opens the section “Art of the 20th – 21st centuries”, where we present little-known pages from the life of the Ekaterinburg Union of Artists in the first post-war decades. The publication falls on the days of the wonderful anniversary of this creative organization — the 90th anniversary of its creation. We are sure that the artists of Ekaterinburg have yet heard and will hear many kind words from the audience. We join them and want to say that the high appreciation of the activities of this Union as one of the leaders in Russia is completely justified.

The outstanding achievements of the artistic creativity of the peoples of the Urals, the masterpieces of the Kasli iron casting, stone-cutting art, as well as the works of contemporary masters, have long been recognized all over the world. Today's searches, relying on these solid foundations of the art of the past, will certainly lead Ekaterinburg artists to new achievements, and our journal has no doubts about their success.

The period covered in the publications is extremely important. In the most difficult post-war conditions, the structure of the organization was formed, the traditions of turning to the cultural and historical heritage of the Urals were laid, an atmosphere was created that helped the formation and achievements of many artists. Acquaintance with this relatively recent history, with documents restored and published for the first time, will certainly be of interest to fellow art historians from the creative unions of the Urals, Siberia and the Far East as an example of scrupulous work on the preservation, study and introduction of such materials into scientific circulation. In the future, the task will be to write a full-scale multi-volume on the history of the art of these three vast regions, and then all articles, albums, books about artists of all regions and regions will be in great demand. And, perhaps most importantly, turning to history, we not only show a grateful memory to those who laid the foundations of modern art, but also discover many important facts and names of unknown or little-studied artists.

The central section of this issue, “Forum”, is dedicated to avant-garde trends in the art of our country in the 20th century, especially those that arose in the second half of it. Sometimes they are called the avant-garde of the second wave, considering of futuristic art forms that arose at the turn of the 19th – 20th centuries as the first wave.

I’d like to say that our editors are also very interested in the analysis of this direction. In this regard, the conference “The Second Wave of Russian Avant-garde: Regional Versions” was interesting for us, which was held in Ekaterinburg in 2021 on the basis of the Department of art history and museum studies of the Ural Federal University. The first important outcome of the conference was the conclusion that the trend of the avant-garde was quite large-scale and manifested itself not only in the capital centres, but also in almost all regions. Thus, the published articles tell about avant-garde searches in art from Odessa to Vladivostok and from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Thus, the question of the randomness and episodic nature of this phenomenon disappears and there is a need for its systematic study, to which, following other articles and monographs that have already been published, our journal contributes.

In speeches at the conference in Ekaterinburg and at other similar events, important and often unexpected questions were raised. For example, is there an avant-garde at all? After all, artistic creativity is always striving towards new forms, towards the search for means of their expressiveness. This was already characteristic of the artists of the Stone Age. Therefore, perhaps, all avant-garde art forms are a manifestation of the same searches, but in a concentrated and ultimate form. And, as has always been the case in the history of art, there were those who abandoned the canonical and already conservative forms and followed the path of an intense search. They were not understood and accepted by contemporaries, like, for example, Van Gogh, but over time, their discoveries became inspiring to many.

At the same time, a careful study of the leading representatives of avant-garde art shows that this is a very diverse phenomenon, and therefore it is hardly legitimate to combine them under one term. It becomes so wide that include the work of far from talented artists who are trying to “make a name” outrageously, and even people with certain mental disorders, — and true masters who were able to synthesize artistic and scientific-philosophical searches. Thus, the leaders of the avant-garde of the first wave, K. Malevich and V. Kandinsky, are known for their serious works on the philosophy of art. But should only they be considered as avant-garde artists? How to call K. Petrov-Vodkin, with his non-Euclidean space and spherical compositions? Or A. Kuindzhi with his breakthrough, not yet fully comprehended in our art history, discoveries in the field of colour? Isn't this the avant-garde? Perhaps it would be better not to unite artists in one direction based on the external similarity of techniques, but to single out those who made some breakthrough discoveries and consider these masters to be avant-garde artists. Then it will become clear that there is a noticeable circle of artists who deliberately imitate for the sake of their vanity, “dressing up in outrageous clothes”. In other words, if we see an artistically expressive form, recognize the deep ideological and philosophical content and feel the high humanistic and spiritual structure of the work, then this is really avant-garde, no matter what wave. Of course, this requires, first of all, a great artistic flair, but also painstaking systematic work to recreate all the important and even minor facts of the life and creative biography of artists. As you can see, this is what the authors of our issue were striving for.

...Once, in the Louvre, standing in front of the Gioconda, I suddenly caught myself thinking that I was distracted from the picture and thinking about who was next to me. There were Chinese, Japanese, French, Italians, people from the equatorial countries of Africa. We couldn't talk to each other. But we all experienced close feelings and were united by the picture. It brought us together, removed all differences and boundaries, made us forget about problems and worries. Art brought us together, and what else in the world has such power that can calm, give joy and inspire hope? And our journal strives to contribute to this.

Mikhail Shishin

Chief Editor