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First snow

Discovering the first snow of the year

The Ukrainian artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin is a great lover of the feline world. In 2017 he painted the oil on canvas “First snow” (80x60 cm): a snowy landscape from the point of view of a child.

In the background there are three brightly coloured houses (blue, pink and yellow). On the edge of the door of the blue house there is a cat, accustomed to semi-freedom. It looks curiously at the first snow that falls in the garden. When can this scene be? In Ukraine it snows from late October to early April, but December is the month with the most snow.

The stroke of the brushstrokes is decisive and continuous, often rounded. The main colours are blue and green that are cold colours. They contribute to making the atmosphere frozen, thanks to the copious use of white delicately placed on the bench and the trees. Dear Readers, do you know that in the Ukrainian city of Luhansk temperatures dropped to -30.9 ° (all-time low)? It was happened in January 2006.

How many cats could you see? There is a single cat in a temporal sequence. It is a domestic cat that has never seen snow before and is attempting a timid exit, being used to being outdoors even in the winter months. The painter Ryabkin proudly represents his country and snow is a common phenomenon. He also performed a dance under a snowstorm in the suggestive painting called “A man dances with a snowstorm”. Look at it!

The cat has cautiously touched the snow with its paw and then, it wandered among the birch trunks. They are another much loved subject by the artist. Finally, it crouched on a bench that resembles the one on which Forrest Gump sat in the homonym movie.

Fortunately, cats thicken their coats to have the right thermal protection so as not to get sick even after a walk! Feed them with a greater caloric intake but without exceeding with fats so that they better withstand low temperatures and stay healthy.

But has the cat got green fur? Yes, it has! It is the surreal element of "First snow", still exposed in the beautiful “Arman’s” restaurant in Treviso (Italy). Ryabkin often inserts a symbol with great ingenuity. In this case it is an unusual colour refers to the fantastic world. Cat’s yellow eyes remind me of those of the British Shorthair, one of the favourite cat breeds of Russians. These cats love the quiet of family life and are a bit sedentary.

Notice the perspective from below: it looks like a child's point of view. In fact, in the foreground there is a big cat, its eyes fix the observer and the landscape develops high on the horizon. The artist renders unique perspectives in his original oils on canvas.

Dear Readers, you may have guessed that Ukrainians love big cats. Well, in recent months, forced home in isolation due to Covid-19, many people have got many cats. In Italy the cat festival will be celebrated on February 17 (since 1990). I invite you to look at the picture “Nusy and Norka” too, in which two cats looking for caresses on their master's legs. What is your favourite Ryabkin’s painting among them? Leave us a comment!


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By Elena Sechet