Moscow: duality, complexity, mobility in the highest degree, the confrontation and confusion of various surface elements which, on final investigation, constitute a quite unprecedentedly and distinctively unified image. The same qualities are also found in the inner life of the city, confounding the foreign observer (hence the many varied and contradictory reports of Moscow by foreigners) but this life, too, on final investigation, is just as distinctive and unified. I see this inner and outer Moscow as the starting point of my search. My painter’s “tuning fork”.
My preoccupation with the "hidden" and "concealed" values helped me to escape the bad side of native and rustic art, with which I first came in contact in its natural surroundings during my trip to the Government of Wologda. See more
It was with the feeling of starting out for some other planet, we passed through many villages. In some, the inhabitants were universally grey-yellow in color, having grey-yellow faces and hair, and being garbed from head to foot in clothes of an equally grey-yellow hue. In other places, the natives were strikingly white, with ruddy cheeks and black hair. These were dressed in so vivid and colorful a manner, as to resemble two-footed, ambulating paintings. I well remember some of the peasant houses — two-storied and ornate — with the inevi- table, brightly polished and shining samovar in the parlor window.
Incidentally, in this part of the world, a samovar was far more than an object of luxury, and was, indeed, of the very first necessity. For in certain districts, the two major items of native diet were — tea (Ivan-tchai), and a certain tough and unchewable oat-bread. It was as hard to digest as it was to masticate, with the result that the population went about with chronically swollen and distended stomachs. Here I first learned not to look at a picture only from the outside, but to "enter" it, to move around in it, and mingle with its very life. It happened to me on entering a certain room, and I still remember how I stood spell-bound on the threshold, gazing in.