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Grigory Pasko: The Return of Socialist Realism

soreal052310.jpgOur country, led by the friendly Putin-Medvedev tandem, continues to move in seven-mile steps towards the shining heights (a variant on the shameful failures) of the socialist past. They’re writing that in one of the polyclinics (I suspect that this is a clinic for the treatment of the mentally ill) in Saint Petersburg, there has appeared a series of pictures on which president of the RF Dmitry Medvedev is playing chess with prime minister Vladimir Putin in different places and different circumstances – which naturally harkens back to the socialist realism art movement which would often depict the leadership in fantastical and fictional situations.

Not long ago, Newsru.com reported that former Yukos shareholder Leonid Nevzlin, now living in exile, had published on his blog several of these images of the paintings, which he maintains adorn the walls these Moscow clinics. These bizarre paintings were anointed with such colorful titles as: «Homeboys at rest», «Brokeback mountain», «Move with the horse..», «Who in Rus’ lives well»…

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soreal4052310.jpgWhat’s interesting is that the game of chess in every picture – this, as it seems to me, is still nevertheless from the realm of medicine: any psychiatrist will tell you that the author of the pictures either personally can’t stand this game (it is not by chance that black is making the first move in the picture with the dogs), or knows that the personages in this game are obviously not champions. (Or is there a cryptic allusion here to Garry Kimovich Kasparov – a staunch opponent of the current power?) By the way, an observant viewer, apparently, will be able to determine on whose board the position is always the more advantageous. But we already know the answer without even looking at the boards.soreal5052310.jpgThe picture that left a particularly strong impression on me was the one where the tandem is depicted on the beach. The muscular tandemomuzhiks – an illustration that at least one of them would like to be like that, but alas… But then, an essential feature of socialist realism is being adhered to – the passing off of the desired as reality.soreal2052310.jpgApparently, the themes of the artist’s creations are not accidental either: a beach, fishing, a stroll along the waterside, beer on the lake…And not the slightest hint at the notion that the personages know how or want to work. In this there is a dissimilarity with the socialist realism of the times of Iosif Vissarionovich – that one they depicted exclusively working at something or other.

Of course, the masterpieces of agitprop of the Stalinist times were more modest: without beer and dogs. But the analogies suggest themselves of their own accord.

And also the clinical pictures reminded me of another tandem: Chapayev and Pet’ka…

Taking the analogy further:
Chapayev and emptiness.
Putin and emptiness.
Putin-Emptiness.