In the history of art there are significant, historical, legendary plots. There are inexhaustible themes, with a great potential of artistic-formal and content-conceptual possibilities, which are constantly opened by artists over the years, decades, centuries. The motif of the mountain – “planetary curvature of the earth’s surface” (Valerii Prokofiev) – “rises” in the culture of mankind since ancient times, it is worth remembering the Old Testament Sinai, mischievous Olympus, dramatic Golgotha, contemplative Fujiyama, meditative Tibet.
Sometimes the mountain is the background for the plot – the rhythmic tuning fork of the composition or color support, sometimes – purely the plot. The treasuries of world art belong to the works of the painter, who is called the “artist of the mountain” – Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). The French post-Impressionist who paved the way for Cubism, the father of modern art, painted Mount St. Victor 87 times 40 years in a row. The dream of classical clarity and, at the same time, new searches in shaping were embodied in these paintings.
Cézanne created a fairly accurate painting of the real world and formulated the “idea of the mountain”, almost avoiding minor details and drawing attention to the basics. At certain periods of his life, the artist literally dreamed of a mountain: it appears to him as a magical mystery that needs to be solved. The indistinct rocky gray massif of Saint-Victoire in the province of Provence on the painter’s canvases acquires a new sound and significance. “Cezanne was characterized by a special color and spatial vision, on the basis of which he created a new painting system by 1880, preferring to convey in his works not instantaneous impressions, but a constructive basis of the world. There time is mercilessly defeated by space… ». (Albert Safiullin).
In a broad sense, each artist has his own mountain, St. Victor (Mount Victoria – “Victory”), his way up in search of his own creative identity. For Ukrainian artists, the Carpathian Mountains and mountain valleys, the Crimean ridges, the Dnieper cliffs, and the rocks of the Dniester canyon become their Saint Victor. Artists tirelessly choose: angle, thanks to which the viewer can be in front of the mountain, under the mountain, on the mountain, move up or down; season or time of day; state of nature – a fierce storm or a quiet haze, moonlight or hot afternoon; direct or reverse perspective. In these gigantic depths, born of fire millions and billions of years ago, it is as if fire is still raging.
The fire of creative passion and a special worldview incessantly lead artists to the development of the mountain motif in the direction of allegory, metaphor, symbol. The closer to our time the date of creation of the canvas, the more diverse the interpretations become: the mountain as a symbol of spiritual path, intellectual growth, state system of power or even the mountain as an everyday still from the movie called “Life”. Man-made mountains (mounds and pyramids) are sometimes used by painters as a sign of the past and of fundamental national memory – historical events and victories won at the high cost of human life.
By uniting our exhibition project with a common plot motif of the mountain, we provide an opportunity not only to assess the significance and scale of the collection of the Khmelnytskyi Regional Museum of Art, which is rightly considered the first museum of contemporary art in Independent Ukraine (1986, 1992 – opening of the first exhibition). The presented works of legendary and stellar artists of different generations of Ukrainian art of the XX-XXI centuries provide an opportunity to travel in space and time together with their polystylistic searches and discoveries.
It is time to scatter stones, and time to gather. The exposition, which in a sense is synchronous with the development of Ukrainian art, demonstrates the path from realism to impressionism, then – to post-impressionism, modernism, postmodernism and modern metamodernism. Within each philosophical and artistic concept, every attentive connoisseur of art or simply a seeker of new knowledge and impressions will find a close idea, image, motive or even a detail. However, a little is worth noting: after all, as you know, a large mountain consists of small pebbles.