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Small fishes in wood bathe

A happy company!

The Ukrainian artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin painted this colourful oil on canvas “Small fishes in wood bathe” (70x100 cm, 2006) to surprises us! Two big gray fish bathe in a bright colours wooden tub. The artist said: "It’s fabulous to see fish swimming in a tub like this", perhaps he has really lived this true life moment.


The focus is the center of the canvas: the lively alternation of primary colours and emerald green embellish the tub with geometric repetitions. Dear Readers, look at the golden chess, the red triangles and the green semicircles: they are similar to the main decorative motifs of Greek art such as the classic wolf teeth, don’t they?

The background is yellow and there are some spatulas of full colour in some places.


Strange elements fill each side of the canvas. On the left there is a stylized English greyhound and on the right a long stem with leaves and a human face with closed eyes as its bud. In a different perspective view the stem may not have any flowers and the head may be a part of the suspended greenish iguana. The artist renders the human expressiveness in animals: the shy smile of the fish that plays like a child in a summer pool, then suffered iguana’s old age and the frightened gaze of the mild greyhound. It looks at the observer who feels questioned about the meaning of life.


At the top right there is a small but unmissable reproduction of an Orthodox church with the typical golden dome. The church and the fish (Christian symbol of good) celebrate the deep religious faith of the Ukrainian artist who was born in Zhitomir town in 1965. He believes in the men’ salvation and the triumph of good over evil.


In 2006 the artist Ryabkin realized a lot of paintings similar in style and technique to each other. They convey his great sense of proud to belonging to his culture and to strong people. One picture was "Small fishes in wood bathe"; in 2019 it was in the art exhibition "A casa dell’artista" held in Spinea.



Other examples. Two paintings were inspired by the circus world. The famous “Girls on an elephant dance” (90x80 cm) and “Wondering acrobats” (70x100 cm). Both of them represent moving subjects and they have got a colourful corolla that looks like a psychedelic pinwheel. It follows the rhythm of the show music!



Dear Readers, look at the window! It is faced the sea and it has got an unusual shape reminiscent of a mirror. In the oval shape the upright is massive and it reminds a Christian cross. It puts the sailboat, one of the artist's most loved subjects, in the background. Here the sail is red but it is often white and it represents freedom and adventure!


As in the picture “Without name” (70x85 cm) and in “Small bottle of absinthe liqueur” (75x100 cm) there is an Orthodox church, now inside now outside this place than becomes a painting in the whole painting. The geometric motif is present in several places in the canvas. Tones become softer specially in the decoration of the bed headboard. The alternation of pink, light green and gold is the same as in the suggestive picture “Fleeting to Egypt” (75x100 cm). In this beautiful painting geometry is present in every element. Great!


Finally, in the beautiful picture “Kiss” (60x85 cm) the greek decoration frames the oval window that becomes the background to the romantic kiss. It reminded me of the famous oil on canvas called “Der Kuss” (eng. The Kiss, 1907) by the Austrian painter Klimt. The two paintings have in common the figures of geometry that allude to the male and female sex of two protagonists: triangles and circles in Ryabkin's picture and vertical rectangles and concentric circles in that of Klimt respectively. Then, both pairs are inside an oval shape (symbol of fertility) and two backgrounds are without depth by the use of flat colours.

The intensity of this embrace challenges the laws of nature like the gravity!


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By Elena Sechet