Art and Faith

Sunday, 27 July 2008

My Favourite Russian Artist… and Some Thoughts on how Her Life has Meaning for Us…

A Self-Portrait

Zinaida Serebryakova



Without a doubt, my favourite Russian artist is ZInaida Serebryakova. She lived from 1884 to 1967, and emigrated to Paris after the Red victory in the Civil War. I love her œuvre because of her masterful use of colour and life, for her loving depiction of the everyday, and the positive and life-affirming ethos that runs throughout her entire career, despite the many trials and sadnesses that she faced in her life (her husband dying young, being forced to emigrate from her beloved motherland, etc) She was an optimist, but, not in the shallow and juvenile way that it’s defined in contemporary American therapeutic usage. Ms Serebryakova took the best that life offered her, even in the midst of tragedy. She didn’t minimise the tragedy, nor did she “move on” as many fatuous American suburbanites advise. Her sufferings refined her, they allowed her to see “soulfully”, as we Russians say. In short, she became one of the greats by allowing her experience to send her wisdom, she didn’t run and hide in a “Penza Cave”, to “move on” in deadness and sterility.

I’d say to my Orthodox friends, this is why you must utterly reject people such as Bishop Benjamin Peterson. He says “move on” all too often. If you do so, you spit on the opportunity of growth that God gives you in the midst of your trials. God doesn’t send us trials, that’s a fallacy. God sends us the strength to deal with trials and the wisdom to draw the proper lessons from them. That’s why you must stop your ears and not listen to the Benjamin Petersons (and the other OCA/AOCANA Renovationists) when they spout their psychobabble. God did NOT send the present crisis in the OCA, we human beings are quite capable of creating such without His help, thank you very much. However, if you listen to the likes of Benjamin Peterson or the SVS crowd, you won’t grow, you won’t draw the wisdom from this as good Christians ought. Think on that.

Rather, be like Zinaida Serebryakova, use the lessons brought by your trials to see clearly; then, you’ll be able to portray things as they are, as she did. It’s your choice.


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