Valentina Tsvetkova (1917-2007)

signed lower right
oil on canvas
100 x 135 cm

The "Lilac" painting is a beautiful, brilliant example of Valentina Tsvetkova's outstanding talent. Her artistic heritage reflects how skilfully she appeals to the traditions of the Russian realistic school of painting and it also elevates her in the ranks of the best Soviet and Russian masters of still life. Following those classical foundations of painting, that she had been introduced to by her teacher, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of arts, Pavel Vlasov, but at the same time, being original, imaginative and distinctive, Tsvetkova has achieved recognition of major well-known museums both in Russia and abroad, state awards and medals, as well as continuing interest from private collectors. Incredible, inexhaustible thirst for joy, the ability to marvel at the seemingly mundane things and unwavering love of life distinguish the creativity of Valentina Tsvetkova. The artist belongs to the generation which experienced a rather difficult time filled with an abundance of sufferings, persecutions, social instability and political turmoil. Nevertheless, the art of Tsvetkova puts on a pedestal the beauty of the world and pays tribute to the most powerful manifestations of nature, such as the spring blooming or the splendour of the southern summer. Japanese scientist Okakura Tansin wrote: "It is the flowers, their serene tenderness that restores in all of us the diminishing trust in the world". The subject matter of flowers can be seen as an uncomplicated one at first glance, but this theme was particularly dear to the heart of Valentina Tsvetkova, whose surname is consonant with the word "flower" in Russian. Perhaps it is thanks to this ability of the artist to appreciate the value of the gifts of nature and to convey this feeling to the viewer, that her art has retained optimism throughout her life even after her personal experiences of the 1920-30s "hungry" years, as well as the period of repression and World War II. It has been said that Valentina Tsvetkova never touched the canvas in moments of sadness and mental turmoil. Thus, her works always express true joy and heart-warming feelings.

Spring and, in particular, lilac flowers are the favourite motifs of the artist. Every spring she worked again and again on the new portrayal of beautiful flowers: lilac, wisteria, magnolia, almond flowers, mimosa, Japanese plum. Surprisingly, each picture, having the same subject matter, still is imbued with novelty, freshness and artistic revelation. As people do not get tired to enjoy the arrival of spring every year, in a similar way, Tsvetkova was making a small but precious discovery in each of her 'flower' work, thus making another bouquet of flowers unique, creating a special atmosphere, manifesting perfection of nature and rebirth of life itself. One of such lilac paintings was given as a gift by Tsvetkova to the famous French writer André Maurois, who spoke enthusiastically about the picture as of "imprinted delight". Lilac has been a subject for inspiration and admiration for numerous prominent Russian painters, poets and composers. This flower can rightly be considered as a special one for the Russian soul: considering how many times it is referred to in Russian art, it might be safely categorised as a national flower. Curiously, in Western painting, this flower has not found such a strong response from the artists, which gives the painting "Lilac" a keen sense of belonging specifically to Russian culture. Such eminent Russian artists of the XIX century as M. Vrubel, I. Levitan, K. Korovin, as well as the great masters of the XX century - I. Grabar, P. Konchalovsky, A. Deyneka, B. Ioganson, A. Gerasimov - all of them were inspired by lilac flowers and dedicated their paintings to it. Tsvetkova's still lifes are not inferior and often might even overshadow the achievements of many Soviet and Russian artists who worked in the genre of still life in the Crimea, such as A. Kuprin, K. Korovin, N. Barsamov. Valentina Tsvetkova has achieved a high level of materiality, the tangibility of objects, the accurate interpretation of the forms in her works. The artist, with her strong commitment to the living nature, is not afraid to give the work a certain decorative effect. With a fairly bold, full of wide brushstrokes and highly-textured elements, confident pictorial and spatial manner of painting, Tsvetkova delicately and skilfully combines an incredible number of sophisticated shades, creating a real harmony of colour. In addition to an exceptionally emotional, light, straightforward, even somewhat romantic artistic vision, Valentina Tsvetkova's works attract the viewer with a mixture of the traditional Russian school of painting, French and Russian impressionism and, surprisingly, also elements of expressionism. Perhaps this is exactly what makes her paintings, such as "Lilac", different, original works among the many images of flowers in the Russian art. The artist has never followed the fashion trends; her works do not contain extravagance and conscious attempt to stand out. "Lilac" is a true manifestation of feelings, an attempt to convey unity with nature, pure joy and the embodiment of faithful service to art, which fully characterises the life and work of Valentina Tsvetkova.