Moscow Residency, Part 1

By, Saralene Tapley (MFA 2016)

We have been in Moscow almost a week now and have visited numerous museums, galleries, Russian Orthodox Churches, restaurants, and shops. The culture is so rich, however, I think one could live in Moscow a lifetime and not run out of sights to see. One of my favorite excursions has been walking back to the hotel one evening along the back streets and alleys and down numerous winding narrow roads. The experience felt very European. We were away from the heavy traffic and tourist attractions that Red Square draws, walking home like a local Russian.

Our hotel, Hotel National, is located right in front of Red Square and the Kremlin. Red Square is very striking and strong by day, but at night it is lit up with different colored lights allowing one to feel the magic and mystery of the city.

I have been newly exposed to two Russian artists living during the 19th and 20th centuries that I have marked as my current favourites. I had the privilege of seeing their works at Tretyakov Gallery. These include Filipp Malyavin and Mikhail Vrubel. Their paintings, “Whirlwind,” and “Demon Seated” are among some of the paintings I've enjoyed seeing most thus far.

“Whirlwind,” Filipp Malyavin, Tretyakov Gallery, 1906

“Demon Seated,” Mikhail Vrubel, Tretyakov Gallery, 1890

Being inundated with so much new information while suffering from jet lag, I decided that I really needed the last few days to reflect and recharge my batteries in the studio. One of my colleagues kindly let me photograph him to paint. As I was unable to capture his likeness to the extent he deserved I have decided he will remain nameless. For the purpose of these studies his image serves as a vehicle which I have used to process emotions, knowledge and stimulus that have left an imprint on me over the last few days. In the spirit of the two expressive painters to whom I am partial, I too have created a selection of expressive paintings concerned more with the material qualities of the paint and surfaces and less with academic realism.

Untitled, acrylic on paper, 2015

Untitled, acrylic on paper, 2015

Untitled, acrylic on paper, 2015

Over the next several days I plan to venture more into the depths of this Moscow’s history, culture and modern day living and discover the ways it challenges my mind and art.