Ms. Marina painting series East of the Sun is associated with Norwegian folklore: the artist was inspired by the book of fairy tales and epic poems collected by the celebrated writer and scholar Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, in which special attention is paid to the description of the rugged Scandinavian landscapes and the ways in which this natural environment shaped the everyday lives of the people. This very close bond with nature turned out to be in full tune with the Artist’s new vision during the period.
Pristine nature as an object of artistic reinvention has long remained outside the scope of Ms. Fedorova’s creative interest, which mostly lay in the realm of urban scenery. Even though forests, lakes and seascapes made casual appearances in her other series from the 2010’s (She Who Runs on the Waves, Prolonging the Summer, Holiday), they merely provided a backdrop for genre scenes focused on the characters whose images determined the pervasive mood of the artwork.
In East of the Sun, people are seen on very rare occasions, with centre stage taken by the mountains that had enraptured the Artist during her road trips through Germany and Austria. The incredible landscapes not only became the subject of realistic sketches from nature, but also inspired some semi-abstract experiments.
The vision of the road — the endless highway with its curves, evening headlights, wet pavement and bright white markings — appears on many canvases of the series (Highway, Pool, Road, East of the Sun). The majestic landscapes seen through the window of a car running at a top speed gain an almost dreamlike quality. Ms. Marina Fedorova’s landscapes, even those in which there are no direct references to the present (Untitled, Forest Lake, Study), are still unfailingly recognizable as modern. They have been painted by an artist rooted in the visual imagery of the 21st century. Even when sketching from nature, Ms. Marina Fedorova employs cinematic compositional techniques and angles and adds her own vision to classical motifs.
Marina Fedorova on the project:
I guess this sensation is shared by everyone who was not born in the mountains and was not used to seeing them from an early age. It is very hard to repeat these clichés about the mountains, especially in Austria or Germany where they surround you not only literally, but in every other imaginable way: in commercials, on chocolate boxes, in textile prints, in music. But the beauty and grandness of the mountains themselves will never become a cliché: they keep mesmerizing and entrancing you. Being an artist, one even begins to doubt whether painting can rival nature, the creator of this ever-changing masterpiece.
Nevertheless, one simply cannot resist the urge to paint. This project is a celebration of landscape. Creating these artworks was akin to meditation.
I still cannot believe that I started a series of landscapes – after all, I have always seen myself as an urban artist, convinced that the only better alternative to a city was yet another city. Perhaps these urbanistic leanings have transpired through the geometric elements in my mountain landscapes. It is as if I were looking at certain details through my favourite childhood toy – the kaleidoscope.
Anastasia Karlova, Ph.D.
Curator of the Department of Contemporary Art, State Russian Museum,