NIKOLAY ROMANOV`s Metalandscape
Using Milorad Pavich’s famous metaphor, landscape is a state with its own laws and population, shores and borders, its own climate and time not running on Greenwich. The language of landscape may not prove clear outside its world. Landscape has its parent and family tree, and one moment in time it may look like its own great-grandson (not born yet) whom it’ll never know. A landscape lives its own life where there’s place for both good and tragic happenings. Water and fire may try to destroy it or it happens to be in a museum with specifically created temperature conditions.
An endless landscape, as long as a life, divided into hundreds of rectangular and square canvases, is the child of Nikolay Romanov, an Artist whose inspiration comes from the harmony of parks and wild nature’s beauty. No small detail misses his eye and is then stored somewhere deep in the depths of the Artist’s memory. Much later, on a long winter night in St. Petersburg, a simple pencil sketch, an echo of journeys past, calls for a new life some secluded corner of this infinitely varied world.
The Teachers who knew how to release the feeling of colour and build the form are among the respected predecessors of Romanov’s landscape. Paul Cézanne and Evsei Moiseenko, separated by time and distance, shared opinions on their profession. ‘…I want every man to create something new every time, the only limitations being one’s personal temperament and perception of things’, Cézanne used to say. Moiseenko taught how to be biased and differ from others by telling in the language of one’s creation, ‘This is what I imagine this world to be!’ From Cézanne Romanov learned to ‘break off a huge piece of nature with a single strike” in order to present it to us the way the artist sees it. From Evsei Moiseenko came the talent to find the key to understand this piece.
The family tree of Romanov’s landscape also goes back with its roots to the eccentric space of ancient Russian icon, the space that unfolds from the outside in the reverse perspective. By skillfully employing the techniques of the old masters, Romanov mastered the gift to stream his landscape’s energy towards the spectator. The latter develops a strong feeling of nature’s transcendence and is at the same time invited to imagine himself as the main element of the pictured world. This is why Romanov’s borderless lands seem so desolate.
A mountain, a water surface, an ancient bridge with Roman arches or even a single cloud in Romanov’s landscape serves an object of meditation and philosophical reflections. With a mountain, it is not its height but its depth that takes away the Artist’s imagination. Small buildings camouflage the narrow passage to the very centre of the mountain; the symbol of a personal process of apprehension.
But the real dominance in the state of Romanov always belongs to a tree. A tall cypress, a palm tree or a snow-covered fir, a bougainvillea in blossom, a cedar or even its shade are the multiple emanations of Arboris Mundi, the World Tree, Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge. A lonely standing tree or one interweaved by labyrinths of branches with other trees – it’s always the sacral centre of Romanov’s state, an image of absolute perfection and mediation between the Universe and the Artist.
As the Artist goes about creating the next fragment of his eternal landscape he dwells in it; it is his enchanted land of dream, his true house.
This house has its own order, its rites and customs. It is the usual daily business there that differs from that in an ordinary dwelling: one has to tirelessly look for the rhythms and fine colour relations and build the landscapes correctly. Even nighttime doesn’t stop the brain from creating images and examining the countless nuances of foliage, sky and seas. And in the morning Romanov, almost happy, rushes to the studio with his trophy to keep the newly discovered integrity of his vision.
A small studio under the cupola is filled with Nikolay Romanov’s only passion: to make things distant closer and, in the things close, reveal the incomprehensible, expose the invisible and break through into another reality. A painting reveals itself to us in an unexpected, even incredible view through a paint stain or a contour transformed into an artistic structure. In an abstract patch fitted into an outline of a real nature’s fragment a spectator will later guess a female image encoded in the mountain ranges and clear waters.
Romanov’s ability to see and feel the nature along with his noble manner and power form the basis of his artistic language. But it is the Artist’s talent to structure space into Sign and his strive to further move this space beyond the limits of the canvas that make this language unique. And even more, the Artist gave to us, the admirers, a chance to share in the process of creating this original ‘meta-landscape’ by bringing the painted text to a new level where ‘our thoughts and dreams ramify’ (M. Pavich). One just has to guess the rules of the game…
Evgenia Logvinova, curator of art-project “Saint-Petersburg”, historian of art, member Art Critics and Art Historians Associations (AIS), member International Federation of Artists( IFA)
Ekaterina`s Park in Zarskoye Selo. Oil on canvas.80ő100. 2006