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The swaying of the sea waves at sunset

"Sunset” (70x100 cm) is a beautiful oil on canvas painted by the artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin. It represents a sunset at the end of a hard day.

In the middle of the canvas the yellow circle and its colourful shades around it are the focus. The big sun sets at sunset and settles on the surface of the sea creating iridescent reflections. “The sea appears all golden, under the sunlit sky” (by Heinrich Heine, German poet). The border between the sky and the sea is indefinite, the two spaces are mixed and the overturning of the elements is paradoxical

The house with the red roof is a symbol of concreteness and everyday life but it becomes a fantastic element. In fact it is equipped with large white wings and starts flying in the blue sky. The house is full of material things of the earthly world that are sometimes superfluous. It brings the appearances, our role in the society and the image of ourselves that we give to others.

This loved envelope comes in a dreamlike dimension, in fact the painter Ryabkin remembers the moment we sleep, now tired at the end of the day, with the following words “Everything wants to sleep”.

Meanwhile, an angel settles on the sun and admires a multitude of sailboats returning to the port in a beautiful turquoise sea as a background. They represent our thoughts before falling asleep. They flow free and overlap each other in silence. The angel came down to Earth to observe the flow of our thoughts and becomes the symbol of listening. At the end of a long day the most important thing is to feel listened to by those who love us. “There is a greater spectacle than the sea and it is the sky. And there is a greater spectacle than the sky which is the interior of a soul” (Victor Hugo, writer and poet who is considered the father of Romanticism in France). I agree!

“Sunset” reminds me of the famous painting “Marina in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer” (1888) by Vincent van Gogh. The Dutch painter made a series of oils on canvas during his stay in Arles (in Provence, France). He was on a fishing village near the mouth of the Rhone River. Ryabkin and Van Gogh have created unique views of the sea by spreading the colours with a palette knife, as well as with brushes. They have dirtied the sea with touches of different colours such as fuchsia, pink, orange, ochre and green to capture the effect of light through the waves. Both have realized harmonious shades and it remember the shades of crayons, this was the origin of the Ukrainian artist’s career before devoting himself exclusively to oil painting. Dear Readers, do you know that Van Gogh painted his work on the beach? In fact, grains of sand were found among the colour pigments!

The angel is a very much-loved subject by the artist Ryabkin in fact he has repeatedly represented it in his works, for example in another intense oil on canvas entitled “Angel and birds” (2014). “Sunset” is a surreal painting in which an exquisite balance between the parts reigns. Each element plays a new role and the scattered light points illuminate the whole image making a good level of dynamism: the white triangles of the sails and wings seem to be moving. It is fantastic!

A curiosity? In 2018 the artist Svyatoslav Ryabkin painted both “Dawn” and “Sunset”. The pair of paintings was exhibited only once in 2019 at the intimate Villa Simion Gallery in Spinea (Venice) during the exhibition called “At the artist’s house”.

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By Elena Sechet

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