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"Azat Galimov's Art:
Changing Consistency".


Tatiana Nesvetailo

Art critic, Senior staff specialist of The State Russian Museum,
Member of St. Petersburg Union of Artists.

Azat Galimov belongs to the generation of St. Petersburg artists whose active career started at the same time as the political changes in our country began. Those changes influenced all areas of life, the art included. The declared liberty of self-expression seemed to be so exiting. And that makes the artist's consistency in pursuing the once chosen path the more remarkable.

Azat Galimov spent his early years in the northern town of Inta , where many representatives of exile intelligentsia resided at the time, his first art teacher being one of them. It was she who influenced and contributed the most to the development of future artist's personality. She cultivated not only the passion for painting in him, but also the deep love and interest to the city of Leningrad . Her stories about Leningrad left an indelible mark in the young man's mind and were momentous for him, as they've determined the direction of his life for many years. Having graduated from Art and Restoration College in the city of Volzhsk and having done his military service, Azat then moved to Leningrad in 1979 to continue his art education in V. Mukhina Leningradsky Art and Industrial College (now St. Petersburg State Academy of Art and Industry of A.L. Stieglitz.)

Basing himself upon traditions of his predecessors, representatives of the Russian Realistic School of Art, the painter often works en plein air', trying to reproduce the mood of the place, to catch its character and spirit as accurately as possible, measuring it with his own feelings and his approach to the particular subject. Working with fine and elusive material of nature's impressions he manages to preserve the keenness of vision and not to lapse into banality. Occasional change of scene is the condition that probably helps him to avoid persistence of vision and keep his reaction very personal and substantial. He travels a lot, visiting different corners of the world, constantly refreshing his impressions and gaining experience in feeling the landscape, literally touching' the world around him with his brush.

The mature art by Azat Galimov is marked by free, emotional painting. Energetic pastous brush, based on true and skillful proficiency in drawing, keeps close to impressionistic technique. A talented colorist of great originality, he deliberately confines the colors of his palette. His coloring is usually thoroughly thought-out and is based on development of rather restrained color gamma.

Speaking about shaping and plastic structure of his works, the early paintings are marked by well-defined graphic basis. The painting style in Letny Sad (The Summer Garden), 2001, seems to be more restrained and austere than in his later canvases. In the latter it's picturesqueness that prevails. They tend to be as close to the state of life as possible, to its vibrant atmosphere, its temperature'. This fully shows itself in the paintings drawn in St. Petersburg , Venice , Bulgaria , Turkey , and China . The impression of emotional unity appears due to creation of light and airy environment that envelopes the entire visual world adding it spirituality and wholeness. The author handles the movement of pictorial masses with great virtuosity, balancing between generalization and objectness and seeking to combine physicality with evanescence. Flush and luscious earthly' plasticity, that mimetically reproduces reality, interlaces with metaphorical ground. Typical for this style is the painting The Island of Marmara . The Dance of Old Olive Trees , where the trunks of old olives, twisted intricately, create a complex rhythmics, noticed and sharpened by the author.

Adherent mostly of the urban landscape, Azat Galimov paints with rapture the views of St. Petersburg, the city that became his home its embankments, bridges, cathedrals, admiring them in different times of the year. These landscapes have a sincere, heartfelt streak, with subtlety and nuances of impression. Series of canvases with the city views are infused by recently gone winter, such as The Griboedov Channel. Bankovsky Bridge . Snow...Snow..., Gardians on the Griboedov Channel. Lion's Bridge, Snow on Pestel Street . Winter 2010 . In the latter we can see not only the huge snowdrifts and snow-covered roofs with dangerously pendent icings, but a conversation piece as well a group of tourists eager to photograph this extremely snowy winter. Pestel Street with its church of St. Panteleimon going inward the canvas creates the typical silhouette of the city beneath the gloomy winter sky. The house facade on the right is painted with striking vividness, as well as sparse cars, struggling forward the winter road. The other vehicles parked along the curbs seem to be frozen in lethargy. Light spots of snow lying in abundance contrast with dark gray-olive color of the road with ochre massif of buildings, creating an expressive, emotionally tinged composition, which is at the same time very close to life.

The Summer Garden , the famous Letny Sad, is one of the painter's favorite subjects. The artist's brush created many views of this finest corner of St.Petersburg. In his work Late Autumn. Letny Sad (The Summer Garden), he opposes cold snow to the heat of dying autumn's foliage. On the canvas Letny Sad. Aurora and the Night , the landscape is drawn in the light of the setting sun that casts long and fanciful shadows. Here again, documentary accuracy of viewscription' is perfectly combined with romantic emotionality.

The landscapes of Russian countryside are painted with more fractured, staccato strokes and contain more lyricism and poetry. Some works remind of Vassily Polenov's art. The canvas Nemyatovo . Warm Evening pictures cozy village log huts on the hillock, frail little bridge descending to the sparkling river, with a white-and-blue cutter moored at its bank. The sense of elegiac tranquility is opposed by the anxiety of piercing blue of the grayish-azure skies, reflecting in the water.

Due to the constant work with natural surroundings the painter has created a specific, individual vision. In his works made en plein air this personal author's intonation is particularly obvious; it becomes apparent not only in his landscapes but also in landscape-looking still lives with flowers. He rarely draws flowers as bouquets in vases. The artist is looking for the unusual points of view and that's why the flowers are often presented as the landscapes of some sort, painted in a close-ups which are brought as near to the spectator's eye as possible, so that he/she could have a pretty good look at the beauty of details. The flowers are not cut, they grow in natural surroundings in the grass, on the riverbank leaning towards the water, against the background of sky, fence or a house wall ( Turkish Peonies, Wild Roses, At the Garden Fence.) Expressively and finely painted canvas Among the Roses is so sensual that almost seems to ooze fragrance.

Regardless of his subjects and locations, the artist captures and conveys emotionally the sense of life with his inherent keenness of color vision.

July 2010.


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