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:
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.