1 December 2011
Oil on canvas, 51 by 70.5 cm.
Provenance: A gift of the artist to his friend, the futurist poet and aviator Vasily Kamensky (1884-1961).
Thence by descent until 1925.
Private collection, Switzerland.
Private collection, UK.
David Burliuk’s acquaintance with the remarkable poet and aviator Vasily Kamensky and later with Vladimir Mayakovsky enabled them in 1913 to begin their famous tour around the towns and cities of Russia, where their lectures on new art and their poetry readings were accompanied by ferocious skirmishes with the public, at times not only verbal, which brought them a certain notoriety. Other projects later followed, such as the First Journal of Russian Futurists (1914), the renowned collection of poems Strelets and other collaborations. Burliuk, prone to forming instantaneous and absolute attachment to people, forged a strong and lasting friendship with Kamensky, which was founded on their mutual love of poetry and art and which left its imprint on history in the form of the pair’s futurist legacy. Kamensky dedicated poems to Burliuk (Sketingrin), and Burliuk painted portraits of Kamensky and presented him with his artworks.
Forest Road was given by Burliuk in 1916 to Kamensky, his friend and comrade-in-arms in the struggle for leftist art. Painted almost simultaneously with the famous portrait of “The King of Poets, the Warrior of Song, the futurist Vasily Vasilievich Kamensky”, which featured in the last Jack of Diamonds exhibition, Forest Road is a perfect manifestation of Burliuk’s artistic preoccupations. Burliuk’s paintings are infused with that captivating enthusiasm and powerful energy which fuelled all his creative pursuits. Later he would himself acknowledge: “I am sincere when I paint nature realistically”.
This landscape was most probably painted in Bashkiria, where the artist and his family moved as early as the summer of 1915, settling in Igliya, a village near Ufa. However, this did not prevent Burliuk from making frequent trips to Moscow up until 1918, where he, Mayakovsky and Kamensky, formed what the latter called an “inseparable triumvirate”, continuing to participate in all futurist events, which after February 1917 acquired revolutionary pathos. During these years, landscape painting was for Burliuk a means of addressing his major artistic concern — to be able to convey texture by painterly means. Forest Road wonderfully illustrates the artist’s achievement of this aim.
Notes on symbols:
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