Successors of Danila the Master Show Their Craft

ASTANA – A recent exhibition “Young Talents of the Urals”, held at the Museum of Modern Art, was a success.

First, a stone bowl with berries allowed for remembering that well-known hero of Pavel Bazhov’s fairy tales, Danila the Master.

Here one could see wineberry, wild strawberry, and currant berries, as if just picked up from a branch, with leaves still breathing with life. This composition, called “The Gifts of the Urals,” gathered all the semi-precious treasures – jasper, green marble, nephrite, carnelian, agate and others. Cupronickel, malachite, phianites, smokestone and rock crystal please the eye in jeweller garnitures with telling names “Valkyrie,” “Uralochka,” “Ice fantasy,” “Spring throughfall,” and “Milky Way.”

A proud peacock, a graceful crane and a laced shoe for the Cinderella, all showing possibilities of art processing of metal, were displayed behind the glass of show-windows.

A total of 127 of 143 exhibits are the best graduate works of students of the Ural College of Applied Art and Design museum collection from Russia’s Nizhni Tagil. The remainder are the creation of students of the Russian State Professional and Pedagogical University in Yekaterinburg, including ceramics, hot enamel, and art textiles such as felt.

An undoubted feature of the exposition were the Nizhny Tagil trays. In 2011, unique Tagil lacquer painting on metal celebrated its 265th anniversary. Indeed, its history is worth being told in a separate story.

Such stories, by the way, do exist. The most known story is “Crystal Laquer” by Pavel Bazhov. It tells about how cunning Germans hunted for the wonderful laquer recipe in the 19th century. After all, the Urals laquer was transparent as a tear, neither heat, nor frost could damage it, neither scratches, nor a boiling samovar or a heated iron could spoil it, and after being covered with such a lacquer, “drawings became like poured into the iron.” The structure of the laquer is still undefined, with the Urals masters being able to keep their secrets.

Director of the museum of arts and crafts Olga Tolstobrova knows many interesting stories about how thanks to Nikita Demidov, the famous manufacturer and art benefactor, craft appeared in the 18th century, as well as about the Hudoyarov’s bond handicraftsmen and the famous rose of Hudoyarov. She says craftsmen at that time wanted to draw not just familiar cornflowers or chamomiles, they wanted to draw unusual overseas flowers, but nobody knew at that time what the real rose looked like.

In the 1920s, the traditions of the Tagil lacquer painting were almost lost. There was only woman, Agrippina Afanasyevna (this year she would have been one hundred years old), who knew how the flower paintings were applied. She was teaching that craft to the people. There is another story about how they were trained. Small painters, girls of 12 years old, first prepared brushes, which, as ballerinas, should have a “heel” and a “toe.” Then they mastered special one-stroke paintings, they learned how a floral bouquet is formed, ornaments are done, and smoke by the bark is used to create the background.

Modern painters training in the department of art paint on metal, draw floral patterns, and “instructive pictures,” – multi-layered narrative compositions, portraits, still life paintings, copies of classical paintings. Their works are a real feast for the eyes.

“The folk crafts reflect the soul of the people, which is the golden treasure of the country,” Tolstobrova said. “We know Kazakhstan has historically developed arts and crafts. We wanted to meet with Kazakhstan long ago – to show our works and in the future to see the creation of Kazakh craftsmen at home. We hope such an encounter will take place soon,” she continued.

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