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Maria and Son

By Boris Bernstein

When we discuss a contemporary artist, whatever his aesthetic inclinations are, we can't help comparing him with the body of art conventionally considered to be mainstream. It is a commonplace that contemporary "high-brow" art is at odds with sentimentality of any kind. In this it opposes the saccharine fantasies and happy endings peddled by pop music, movies, and TV; the darker manifestations of the human mind, of which it deals with the darkest, don't require sympathy.[1] The middle ground is out of place everywhere: in the stratosphere of the mainstream as well as in the syrup sea of mass art. Between these opposing worlds lies the cursed void, the Bermuda triangle: you can't go there. True, ordinary emotion, without hypocrisy and on a human scale, is homeless.

Maria Kazanskaya either doesn't know or doesn't care that this land is forbidden. Hence, it seems, stems her fearlessness. This is why she allowed the art of painting to meet and intertwine with own deeply personal experience. This happened when her second son Nikita was born and she let her motherhood into her paintings.

The art, in our case, doesn't do narratives, though remaining a genre painting; doesn't promise to trawl psychological depths, though it certainly does not avoid expression; and even more clearly doesn't pursue the shock value and visual paradoxes which are available in proliferation today. This art creates an atmosphere.