Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiyev – an artist who lived and worked in a rather difficult historical time, when one era replaced another, some changed others. Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev – a great artist of the late XIX-early XX centuries, a modernist artist, an outstanding master of portraiture. All his portrait works reflected not only external similarity, but were lively, vivid and genuinely realistic, openly expressive.
At the very beginning of the twentieth century, in 1901, Kustodiev created a portrait of his friend and colleague, graphic artist Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin. “Portrait of I. Ya. Bilibin” Kustodiev wrote in his twenty-three years in the early period of the disclosure of his work, the formation of basic pictorial ideas and image methods different from other schools. The picture primarily affects the perception of seemingly simple at first glance methods of composition. Bilibin is sitting on a chair. The image of the artist turned out confident, open, expressively monochrome, like a graphic contrast pattern. The movements of the artist are not constrained, but on the contrary, they are active and relaxed.
Bilibin’s unforced posture, as if it declares the artist, as a strong, somewhat sharp, cheeky character, who lives the whole fullness of life, the sensual world of emotions. Bilibin Ivan Yakovlevich is depicted with a firm straight back, with his legs crossed, which carries certain features of an imperious personality. In addition, the artist’s brown eyes are not only very beautiful and expressive, but also filled with an inner energy of challenge, determination, ready to grow into some kind of biting remark or ambiguous judgment. From the point of view of color, the portrait turned out to be rather dense, deeply dark, almost black and white, hence the effect of monochrome of the image.
The background is spelled with a dynamic, loose colorful layer. The graphic artist is captured elegantly dressed, in a dazzling white shirt with a lush bow on his chest in a blue-black suit with a bright scarlet flower on the lapel that enlivens the excessive graphic quality of the image. Details of the hands and face of the artist. Ivan Bilibin is characterized by rather large facial features and firm, confident lines of hands, revealing in him a person living in the world of art. Indeed, there was a period in the life of the graphic artist Ivan Bilibin, when he directly defended the ideas of creativity, actively participating in the association “World of Art”. This activity, vigilance, the sharpness of his nature was manifested in the very portrait of Kustodiyev’s brush.
An open look, a brightly lit clean beautiful face, confidence in movements and figures in general open up to us a special person from the world of art, from the world of color, it seems that they live only in fairy tales, images and colors. It is no coincidence that Bilibin created in his works illustrations to fairy tales, making this unreal, completely unusual world quite possible, more beautiful, filled with sounds and colors than the real world, usually ordinary. Here he is before us – the beautiful creator of the fairy tale world – Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin. How Kustodiev portrayed him – a young, handsome, confident, ambiguous character with many facets.