Art and Faith

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pavel Korin. An Old Epic. 1943

An Old Epic (Pavel Korin, 1943)

This is a second work with the title An Old Epic, and it is even more explicitly Great Russian and Orthodox than the previous work, and it is far brighter in tone. Note the icon of St Nicholas in the background, and one can catch the hope for a new resurrection of Orthodox Holy Russia. The old woman in the background appears to be modelled very closely on Korin’s earlier portrait of Schema-Nun Famar. Its message is clear. Holy Russia still has much to endure, but, it shall rise from the ashes of the Soviet opium dream in the end. How Korin survived Stalin’s repressions is a total mystery, but, it certainly shows the complexity of the communist period, and that not everything of that time was bad.

Korin was a formative and seminal influence on the next generation of Soviet artists. Unfortunately, he is very little known in the West. Because of this ignorance, not only of Korin’s work, but, of the Russian cultural life of the period in general, many in the West have come to a total misunderstanding of what this era meant for Russia and for Russians. It was far from being an arid desert. It laid the groundwork for the rebirth of Orthodox Russia that we see today. All honour to those who kept the flame alive in a time of darkness! We owe them a debt that isĀ incalculable.

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