An Unexpected Find

I was wandering along some tributary of Teh Intarwebz looking for something or other, when I came across a series of paintings of extraordinary beauty done by Russian-Israeli artist Leonid Afremov, and completely forgot what I’d been looking for. Here’s one that caught my eye first, called Heavy Rain:

Now, the thing about traditional Impressionism is that it was created at a time when light in cities was soft, made by gaslight and candlelight  — and needless to say, the en plein air trend of 19th-century Impressionism meant that most paintings were daytime scenes. Night, in the countryside, means darkness (unless you’re Van Gogh, of course, and see the stars as miniature suns). Cityscapes were mostly lit by the sun, and to those painters, the city sun was harsh (which is why there are so many Impressionist paintings of dusk, dawn or rainy scenes, where the light is softer). Here’s one by Edouard Cortès, to illustrate [sic] the point:

Édouard Leon Cortès Tutt’Art@

But Afremov is a modern Impressionist painter — he was born in 1955, which makes him a year younger than I — and the light he sees is harsher, brighter, more artificial: neon, light bulbs and florescent tubes, and he uses a palette knife rather than a brush to make the contrast even more pronounced. That doesn’t take away from his wonderful skill and expressiveness, of course; just look at his exquisite Promenade, and tell me it’s not evocative:

If you go to DeviantArt, you can see more.

I just love his work. If I could, I’d buy prints of almost everything he’s ever done and hang them on my walls.

13 comments

  1. Stunning – I too love the impressionist art style; it’s realism with a bit of a glow. The beauty of life as seen just slightly out of focus; it takes off the harsh edges of reality and makes the world seem just a bit more friendly – less antagonistic. I’d like just about any of these as well. Funny how when I look away, mentally, I see the scene as though it were real, not the impressionist view. I guess that’s what it’s all about – the impression succeeds!

  2. Downtown on a rainy night in any modest population center is a wonder to behold. A bit nerve-wracking to drive in, though.

  3. Welcome back. My condolences for your loss. I don’t know how I’d handle loss of wife-unit 1.0 though I’ve wargamed it in my head from time to time. She had stage 3 endometrial cancer in ’04 and beat it. I do reserve the right to annoy you occasionally about writing the Great Boer Novel about a certain nation of rifleman. I get that it’s not your thing as you told me in email and respect that. I’ll still annoy you. 😉 Any chance of linkage to your legacy sites?

  4. I’ve never head a real appreciation for art – most of what is called “art” is just pure visual garbage.

    But those, those I can clearly see, are beautiful pieces of art.

  5. Thanks for the heads up on this guy. It’s always nice to know a good artist.

    FWIW, here’ a favorite of mine: http://www.bryanlarsen.com/ . I have two of his works hanging up: A limited print of “Heroes”, which struck a personal resonance with my Dad, and an original pen sketch from his Atlas Shrugged cover proposal series. The story is that the sketch won the contest, but the larger commission was cancelled after the publisher decided to go with less expensive geometric designs instead.

  6. Kim,
    Years ago you posted a painting that I fell in love with. I wrote the name down so that one day when I had more money I could get a print. Needless to say I lost the slip of paper. All I can remember is that the title had the word Orange in it. Or possible the artists name did. Does that ring a bell at all?

  7. As the great El Rushbo has opined, “If I can do it, it’s not art.” That’s doubly true for me; I can barely do stick figures. But like [someone famous] once said, I know it when I see it. This IS great art. I love the impressionist style. It’s like the memory of a dream transferred to the canvas. And his use of color (not “colour”, dagnabbit) is magnificent. All of modern society can be seen as an attempt to keep the lights on in the dark, so it’s only fitting that we make our night times and our artists’ impressions of them more vibrant.

    (Side note: does the comment section allow for hypertext coding? I don’t need much, just italics, boldface, and strikethoughts to make my points.)

  8. First, I haven’t had the opportunity to say “Welcome back!” I’m dreadfully sorry about the circumstances and send you my best wishes and compassion.

    Second, I don’t even like Impressionist art, and I like these. Thanks.

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