This afternoon we visited the Novosibirsk Art Museum located on Krasnij Prospekt, the Main Avenue running through the right side of the city until the main bridge, Kommunalnij Most, stretching over the Ob to the left bank. The Art Museum has a permanent collection ranging in icons from the Middles Ages to contemporary decorative arts. My favorite works of the collection were by N. K. Rjerikh (1889-1953), a local artist, whom I was previously unfamiliar with. He painted landscapes in wonderful bold color blocks. His inspiration appears to be gathered from extensive travel through Russia, Central Asia and India. A series of Himalayan peaks are still vivid in my mind along with one particular painting of the icy steppe called Frozen Mongolia.
The museum also had several temporary exhibitions, my favorite being about 100 or so renditions a magical forest creature, Shurale, from Bashkir and Tatar folklore by local school children. The most prominent feature of Shurale that every student depicted was a horn on a human-like body. Most creatures were also a bit furry and many had distinctly long nails. In 1907 the Tatar poet Gabdulla Tuqay wrote a piece about Shurale and this literary work is the inspiration for each piece of artwork in this exhibition. All pieces were the same size, around two and a half feet in height by one and a half foot wide; however some students chose to paint or drew, others carved wood, and some even worked with textiles and felting. It was a wonderful mix of interpretations, so much so that I hunted for a book with the Shurale poem and I ended up uncovering it in an anthology titled ‘Old Russian Mythology’ for children.
After the museum we visited the Aleksandr Nevskij Cathedral, located just a short walk from the Art Museum. We wandered the complex, which was completely covered in snow, and then went inside slowly taking in all of the paintings covering every inch of the domed interior and the scent of beeswax candles filling the space.