Cossack. Image from Five Points of View - Russian impressionism museum
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Cossack. Image from Five Points of View, 1912

David Davidovich Burliuk

Oil on canvas

Private collection, Moscow

The opening of the exhibition "Jack of diamonds" in 1910 marks the turn of the avant-garde to the national primitive. Artists sought to revive primary perception — to paint as if they never studied it in Academy. From now on, they turn their attention to peasant icons, shop signs, popular prints and painted trays. Basing on local primitives, Russian artists found the ground under their feet and did not feel like the epigones of the new French painting. At the same time, they wanted to break the distance between professional and amateur art. So, David Burliuk starts to work on the interpretation of popular in the Ukraine folk pictures of "Cossack Mamai". For European artists, exotic subjects and colonial art were an important resource for the development of a new artistic language. For example, Matisse was inspired by the decorative aesthetics of Moroccan carpets, and Picasso exploited African plastic. At Burliuk's there is a Cossack, playing the bandura, — colourful folk character, but not borrowed and strange, he’s native. For Burliuk, the image of the Cossack is the personification of the "creative soul of the people". Therefore, the depicted Cossack and the horse next to him in five variations are both historical and modern.