Autobiographical motifs in the works of I. Glazunov are often encountered. But the picture “My life” is the most complete generalization of the artist’s thoughts about his destiny, inseparable from the fate of his beloved Russia. The creation of the canvas in 1994 almost coincides with the beginning of the artist’s work on his confession book “Russia Crucified.” And so the motives for writing and the pathos of the picture can be most accurately determined by the words of the author himself, stated in the foreword to the book: “I am a small particle of the nation and I am
And popular recognition was a guarantee that I was not trampled, despite the hatred and slander of enemies. I am grateful to everyone who helped in my, our common struggle for Russia. My confession is my pictures and this book… A strong desire to write it arose at me at the behest of civil conscience, and not only because of hatred of the slanderers of Russia and me personally as a Russian artist. After reading the manuscript of one of the books about me, I realized that I had to write about myself, express my views on the good and evil in the world, repulse the falsifiers of our history and protect it myself – an artist and a soldier, tormented and humiliated Russia… “
The composition of the picture includes key milestones of the artist’s life, which determined the formation of his creative personality. In the upper left part of the canvas, we see images reflecting the spirit of Petersburg – Leningrad, where the future painter was born and suffered the horrors of the blockade, when his parents died in agonizing starvation. The classic image of the frescoes by Guido Reni “Aurora” is one of the examples of great works of art that filled the former Imperial Academy of Arts, in the walls of which in the postwar years the professional skill of Glazunov was polished and where he met his future wife, Nina Alexandrovna Vinogradova-Benoit. Below is a scene that characterizes the family atmosphere in which the children of the artist were brought up – Ivan and Vera. Emko decides the integral image of the socialist era, with its inherent accessories, invading the upper central part of the picture with a wedge. One side of it, representing an erupting smoke column reminiscent of the base of a nuclear mushroom, separates the socialist world from the former pre-revolutionary Russia and the whole bright, filling the inner world of the artist
On the other hand – a staircase leaving in the skies, often found in other works of I. Glazunov. The ladder in the Slavic tradition is perceived as a symbol of spiritual ascent. But while it is not a single living soul. And in the center – balancing on the background of houses the figure of a rope walker. The tension of the young artist’s view, I think, will be clear to everyone – the images that inhabit the right side of the picture depict the state of a country that was considered not so long ago a superpower called the USSR.
Of course, this picture, which reflects the main stages of the artist’s life against the background of the whole of Russia, is filled with a tragic sound. The artist aspired to always express the harsh truth of life, concerning not only him personally. However, he would not have been himself if he had been discouraged if by all the forces of his soul and mighty talent he had not been eager to give an answer to the “damned questions” of the time, which are especially relevant at this time of turmoil and the disintegration of the state and society. The most significant episode, summarizing the past and pointing to the future, we see in the lower central part of the composition. It is framed by a rainbow, the edges of which are supported by two angels. Under the rainbow – the image of Holy Russia, always a former ideal for the artist. On its background is a monumental self-portrait of Glazunov himself. His struggle continues to this day, reflected in the creative and social activities, attracting more friends and like-minded people, above the portraits of which the image of the Savior rises. Not all endure the tension of this struggle of the artist, and the images of such apostates are also present side by side. Behind the artist’s back are bright and spiritual figures of his children, symbolizing a new generation of youth, which already today determines the main direction of creative and spiritual renewal of Russia.