German Travnikov

A pilgrim of charm

NATURE became the first and the most striking artistic experience for Travnikov. It became for him a source of beauty his war childhood, chary of joys, lacked so much. Life injured wounds and nature cured them, presented gifts of pure happiness, taught lessons of unselfish love. From first visits to school and long twilight roads back home memory retained silent autumn groves. Their sadness talked in a whisper with a melancholy of an awakening soul. Even nowadays Travnikov continues to consider autumn to be his favorite season, hi is very responsive to its calmness, concentration, internal harmony.

In the mentality of future artist nature awoke no tender emotions and quick-passing delights, but rather induced a feelling of an unbreakable link between him and this world. It this way he made his first discoveries in the field of emotions. This very discoveries usially lead a human being to creative work

May be the MOST characteristic feature of Travnikov's landscapes is the authors indifference towards "pleasant" tunes and cheap effects. This testifies about a truly artistic attitude towards nature, testifies about love to and understanding of nature. Without mistake some genetic memory recognizes in Travnicov's works something dear and truly national. Yes, all this is our national theme - a folk-song unfolding of plains (Steppes and steppes around...), wide rivers (Flood of her rivers, resembling seas), long and severe winters, endless forests - from hot steppes to cold seas. Everything is huge, enormous. May be our national character was formed by those endless plains. The wideness and generosity of Russian soul, no limits in work and feasts, in joy or sadness?

RUSSIAN words "volya" and "oudal", having no translation in other languages, are conected with the perception of endless space. A perception of open space as of "volya" and endless road lies at the base of Russian nationale character. It explains our long songs, a theme of "road" in different arts, an appeal to "open horizons", which can be traced already in the earlies works of literature. This mighty, epic attitude towards life gave birth to our national epic "War and Peace". It is not surprising that a constant character of Russian literature - from folk songs to Leskov and Gorky - is a pilgrim. He starts his road not because of dull. His way is a search for veritas and beauty.

GERMAN TRAVNIKOV is a spiritual inheritor of those pilgrims. He is not painting "pictures" but rather discovering new worlds. He focuses not so on the pre¬cise description of reality and pictorial effects, but rather on the spirit of nature. This is why he is so successful in depicting the landscapes of foreign regions (the cycle on Touwa, the series on Central Asia). After seeing them one's memory keeps not so the details, but the tune itself, a testimony of a meeting with different mood, different mentality. The central idea of Turkmenian cycle - a meeting of a Russian with a civilization with a thousand year history.

SPACE from the very start became a favorite, beloved theme for the artist. Such is, for example, one of his first masterpieces - a water colour "Game".

...Late everning, light of peasants huts in the distance and boys with selfmade hockey hooks on the first ice of a frozen swamp. This beautiful water colour, never the less, can not be considered as simply a pretty genrepainting. The looking glass of ice under the dark sky looks like an image of the world interpreted by a child's mentality - a familiar and well established circle of light surrounded by a huge, frightening, alien space.

Everything in this circle of light - simple children's joys, fantasies, alarming expectations. And also present here - a sorrow of the adult artist he would never be able to see the world so spacious, so mysterious.

THE CALL of open space is distinctively heard even in the most "dense" of Travnikov's landscapes: it declares itself sometimes in the brightness of a distant lake, sometimes by a piece of sky over the edge of a roof. "The souvenir of Upper Toyma" became a classic of Russian water colour. It's a really wonderful work. Here the ethnographial truth is present (we easily recognize the Russian North by its architecture), also the soft irony in the image of an old woman with her goat. But the thunderstorm clouds of the sky and gold lights of Nothern Dvina seen through the village street give to this seemingly genre-painting a broad breath. Thus is the impression of the artist. Even his lyrical works have a distinctive epic touch - behind the canvas is a different life with a different beauty... This is why in his "travel album" Travnikov is not a reporter, but often a deep interpreter of a different life, of a different existence. Bright and vivid images appear on the border line of the artist's day-to-day experience with the totally incompatible with it another concepts of beauty and harmony.

ONE of the most attractive features of Travnikov's gift is its organic character. The artist experienced creative growth, changes but the main task for him always remained not so a technical sophistication but a support of living creative spirit. "I see it clearly - Travnikov says - that the unique artistic view is produced not by the sophistication of technics but only by the work of his soul".

A NATURE artist German Travnikov managed to retain an almost children's perception of this world. The very readiness to new meetings. It is this very open¬ness and honesty that produced the most outstanding achievements of the artist.

A pilgrim of charm, "a collector of space" German Travnikov in his latest works more often and often returns to the images of his Motherland. After a lot of travel and sight-seeing with hot dust of Asian deserts, with icy wild winds of Polar regions your native tunes - some shy Russian forest, a smell of birch-tree smoke, a frog over the lake and touching lights of your native village - have a special effect on your soul.

V. VESELOV, writer

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