Painting The Himalayan Peaks: Nicholas Roerich

 Brahmaputra (River)  Nicholas Roerich  Tempera on Canvas 

Father was German. He was a lawyer. Mother was Russian. They lived in the city of Saint Petersburg. This city was formerly known as Petrograd (1914-1924). Yes, it was known as Leningrad (1924-1991), too. But we would call the city of Saint Peterburg. 

Our main concern is with the couple referred above. They had a son. Their son's name was Nicholas Roerich.  The man with whom we have concerned, Nicholas Roerich, never lived in one country. He travelled across the world; he travelled across the boundaries. Many times he had crossed the boundaries by foot. The almighty God had perhaps whispered in his ears, "You are to do multiple tasks during your life." The most important of his tasks was to paint. 

I find the above painting Brahmaputra a meditative one. I can visualise what the artist must be feeling in the mood of being meditating himself. The constant gaze to such a painting can be therapeutic, too. You can try it. Keeping the form so simple, the artist has staged a drama with the help of rich blue colour and its cool application. That has made the painting a piece for more consideration.

Guerrillas Nicholas Roerich Tempera on canvas
State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg 1943

This travelling artist visited India several times. He painted the Himalayan peaks like no other artist has painted till today. He would look at the peaks and he would find the natural harmony in these peaks. In addition to the painting skill, he had a poetic licence, too. He used it extensively. He used it very well.

A painting is the product of ordered efforts put into by an artist. And thus it is bound to possess some a feeling of order within it. Isn't it? So, when we look at a painting, we first see the form. Naturally. Then our eyes go to find out the shapes. Thereafter, if we have previous experience of seeing masterpieces of art, we would appreciate the situations the artists had desired to paint on his or her canvas.  

It would be our enthusiasm to Search for the element that was present at the relevant moment the artist had painted the art piece. A well-painted piece of art, painted with targeted goals would contain most of these aspects a lover of the art would like to see in a painting.

It is often heard from the great artists that, while working with colours, the artist would be seized by his or her inherent drive. Every artist has the instinctive force and that force would lead the artist to perform. If that is so, then this painting is one of its finest examples.

Song of Shambhala Nicholas Roerich  1943

The Artist:   For an artist, a painting, the fruit of his or her labour, is much more than a painted surface. Through the medium of colours, he or she tries infusing the order of nature in a painting. It is the order that nature has in it, intrinsically embedded within.  

Thus when we look at a painting, we would find the objects the artist has painted, the form, the physical outlines of the things and situations. These are obviously the medium: the shapes of the things painted; the situations the artists had created. In fact, these are the alphabet an artist uses to convey his or her feeling.  

Whispers in the Dark Nicholas Roerich
Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York

The writers and poets have a poetic licence from the almighty God. They can take extra liberty while executing their art, their inner talent. The artists have this type of licence for using their artistic skill at their best. While acting upon this special authority, poetic licence, the painters impose the forms in their paintings. They do so by making the altered state of the forms.

However, the trend of imposing such transformed forms has never remained static. It has gone of constant change since the days of ancient artists’ work to the modern stock of the artistic outputs. And that is the reason why the forms on the canvases have always kept changing. The shapes of the objects painted have transformed themselves as per the choices of the artists like Picasso and Van Gogh. 

How to Communicate Through Forms: The painters' ideas about the forms, as they perceived them, are quite complex. It varies with the experience of each and every artist. Their method of communication is unique in nature, so far as the great painters are concerned. Some artists believe that the defined lines of the objects of the painting are the foremost necessity. The Renaissance painters did believe so. Some artists regard that the definite lines are so important: the modern artists, including those of the impressionist's clan. 

Mount of Five Treasures (Two Worlds) Nicholas Roerich  1933
"Holy Mountains" series. Tempera on canvas 

Every artist of known calibre has tried revealing the intrinsic value of his or her aesthetic experiences. The artist does it through his or her paintings done in the forms of his or her choices.

Kang-chen-dzod-nga – Five Treasures of Great Snows. Paintings of Himalayan Mountain "Mount of Five Treasures (Two Worlds)".  

And why is this sublime mountain called Five Treasures of Great Snows? Because it contains a store of the five most precious things in the world. They contain – gold, diamonds, and rubies under their peaked surfaces. The old East values other treasures. It is said that time would come when the famine-element would overcome the whole world. At that time, a man would appear and he would unlock the giant gate of these vast treasuries and nurture the entire mankind.  

Certainly, you understand that this man will nourish humanity not physically, but with spiritual food. - Nicholas Roerich. 

The job of an artist is a complex one in a sense. The painter’s work, and the purpose for which he or she paints is somehow to remake the mental images he or she has made on seeing a scene or the objects. 

The Artist Acting As A Bridge: The artist’s desire is to share his or her experience through the art that would churn out a note of recognition in the viewers’ eyes. Thus the work of art constructs a bridge between the viewers and the artist, communicating the inner traffic of an artist’s mind to the art lovers’ eyes. 

Thus the piece of art that was merely an image in the artist’s mind, the painting that was only a child of intuition, becomes available to those who value the same. [All the images are in Public Domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons]

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