The colonnade of St. Peter's Square is known to look like arms hugging the square. But many people passed under the powerful Tuscan columns of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, and the closed galleries leading from the oval of the colonnade to the cathedral itself pay less attention to the “wrists” of the colonnade, primarily because until recently both of them were closed to the public. Only in front of the wing of Constantine, on the right from the side entering the cathedral, it was possible, behind the shoulder of the Swiss guard, to see the baroque hyper-perspective of the Scala Regia. The wing of Constantine is still closed, but the opposite "wrist" of the colonnade, from the basilica to the right, and from tourists and pilgrims to the left - the wing of Charlemagne, the Holy See has recently been handed over to the Vatican Museums, and exhibitions are being organized there. Here is the exhibition-answer of the Tretyakov Gallery to the Moscow exposition of the Vatican two years ago, Roma Aeterna; Then masterpieces from the Vatican Museum were brought to the State Tretyakov Gallery, now - the second stage of cultural exchange, 47 things from Tretyakovsky arrived in Rome, plus seven more from six Russian museums. Arkady Ippolitov became the curator of both (2016 in Moscow and 2018 in Rome) exhibitions, and the design of the expositions was designed and implemented by Sergei Tchoban and Agniya Sterligova. Note that the exhibition at the State Tretyakov Gallery was designed as a semblance of St. Peter's colonnade, and the reciprocal exposition of Russian art was housed in it.
The exhibition is of masterpieces, it is a special genre with well-established laws, one of which is a chronological sequence that makes any exhibition, especially if it covers 400-500 years, predictably similar to a museum exposition, furiously classic: XVI, XVII, XVIII and so on, Russian art is shown from icons to the avant-garde through the Itinerants. Wanting to get away from the template, Arkady Ippolitov mixed the entire chronology, building semantic and, in a broad sense, iconographic parallels between the works of different centuries. It turned out for some - predictably, since conversations about the deep religiosity of Russian art of positivism and avant-garde have been going on for a long time and there is nothing new in them, for others it is provocative, because it is one thing to compare "What is Truth" or "Golgotha" by Nikolai Ge, "Prayer for Chalice "by Perov with the Gospel cycle of iconostases, or Perm's" Christ in the Dungeon "with" Christ in the Desert "by Kramskoy, and it is quite another to find the features of a Christian martyr in the People's Will from Repin's painting" They Did Not Expect ", to compare" Do not cry for my mother "with" Inconsolable grief "by Kramskoy or to put Vrubel's" Demon "in the context of Orthodox icon painting and compare" Black Square "with" The Last Judgment "(I must say, it is here that" Black Square "looks humbly modest and not at all provocative, but as a kind of dot). There are also unexpected comparisons, for example, of the twists of the red banner in Kustodiev's Bolshevik with the Serpent of the Last Judgment.
One way or another, despite all the obviousness of the idea, it has never been shown so clearly and clearly. On the other hand, the exhibition is very precisely tuned to the manifestation of the Christian core of even theomachy, God-seeking, revolutionary and Bolshevik works, which is more than appropriate in the Vatican. However, there is also a downside - credo, I believe Russian art begins to sound somewhat placard, as if it is reciting by heart the charter for admission to the Komsomol. Generally speaking, the Russian press reacted to the exhibition more in the sense of the greatness of Russian art, while the European one did not forget about the Vatican's policy, about the fact that Pope Francis is inclined towards "friendship through art", and here again the contradiction of modern life arises: then we recall schism and prepare new,are we almost preparing again for the Florentine union or the Third Vatican? All this, of course, is not the case: it is just that in different layers of the pluralistic atmosphere of our time, fortunately, different cultural movements can coexist, but we also note that Arkady Ippolitov's plan created many semantic tensions, it rests on them, which is why the exhibition practically rings.
The content of the exhibition is thus full of internal energy. Bernini's space is also far from neutral. It is, of course, quieter than Scala Regia, where the steepness of the climb, overcome by the walking, is intensified emotionally several times; but here, too, the floor is sloping, rising from the square to the cathedral, provoking, albeit a small, but effort of the one going up; the walls, on the other hand, are made up of flattened baroque exedres - a long train of waves similar to the chapels of a Catholic church, and at the same time, one can imagine that they are a reaction of the walls to the semantic tensions that arose at the exhibition. So Sergei Tchoban and Agniya Sterligova found themselves between two fires: the plot of the exhibition and Bernini's emotional space - they chose the most calm solution for the exhibition design, subordinating it to the interior.
Exhibition structures about 3 m high echo the contour of the walls and repeat, one tone lighter, their grayish-beige scale: they go deeper into the exedra, build the walls in front of the pylons, and form a "second skin". The gallery is not wide and it was wrong to partition it across, in the middle there was only "Christ in the Dungeon", the only sculpture in the exhibition, which forms a kind of transept with two adjacent exedras.
Everything else is grouped along the walls, but in such a way as to separate the mixed by the curator logically, imperceptibly and clearly. Pictures of the 19th and 20th centuries are hung on the light surface of the stands - the icons are deepened into niches, a kind of icon cases, revealing the imaginary material of the walls: the color of Eucharistic wine or the purple of the King of Kings, the Queen of Heaven. And it turns out that the light surface of the structures is the line between the deeply ecclesiastical art of the Middle Ages and the search for the disclosure of the same issues of Christianity in the New Age. Or the line between the reverse perspective of the divine, according to Uspensky, uncreated space - and the realistic construction of an illusory created world. In other words, the exposition structures include two layers: for iconic church art and for paintings of the New Age - which allows you to emphasize how the same themes "sprout" through time - and to reveal the curator's intention, avoiding complete, chaotic confusion, but subtly, almost at the level of the spectator's instincts, to separate the two components of the exhibition. If you take one more step, you can imagine that this neutral-white surface absorbs another problem of Russian art - the absence in it of the Renaissance period, the moment of the formation of the problematic and stylistics of the New Age.
However, the wine-red color, according to the authors, has one more connotation: it connects the Roman exhibition with the Moscow one.
Roma Aeterna two years ago - that was completely burgundy, albeit with a kind of brown, copper-metallic shade. Here, purple, not limited to the space of niches, enters the exhibition space three times: at the entrance and at the end of the gallery, marking the beginning and end of the “path”, and also in the pedestal “Christ in the dungeon”, marking the center. At the same time, the purple walls accentuate the iconic beginning of Russian art and close it with the final chord - the glory of the Mother of God on the throne.
The path must be mentioned separately. The exhibition is called "Russian Way", but it is in Russian, and in other languages the word way sounds like pilgrimage-pellegrinaggio-pèlerinage, that is, pilgrimage. In interviews and various statements, a third appears - "The Way of the Cross", apparently the "godfather" was taken out of parentheses or cut off from the name to remove pathos and greater freedom of interpretation. The architecture of Bernini's wing, with its ascent to the east, fits perfectly with the idea of both the pilgrimage and the Way of the Cross, and even brings to mind the numerous staircases to the churches of Catholic Europe intended to be scenes of the Carrying of the Cross ceremony, for example, the Notre Dame de la Garde staircase in Marseille, the Trinità dei Monti staircase in Rome or the ascent to San Miniato al Monte in Florence. Here, in the wing of Charles, the rise is not great, although it is palpable, and the spectators-pilgrims go, in general, not to St. Peter, albeit in his direction, but move inside the problems of Russian art, seen as acutely Christian. Do I need to remember that now an icon for Catholic churches is a welcome and interesting prayer image, a carrier of a certain mystical mystery, in contrast to the usual and traditional sculptures and altar images.
The arcs of the white slats that carry the lighting echo the bends of the exedres with a shift of one iteration - and serve not to separate, but to unite all the material. Their white graphics, hovering a meter above the spectators' heads, look like the halos of the quattrocento, arranged perspectively in the space of the paintings. They seem to compensate for the absence of the Renaissance and at the same time not only e support, but also I They emphasize the entire exhibition, emphasize the sacredness of the topics presented and, overshadowing, unite them. It’s even surprising how such simple means were able to separate and combine such valuable and multidirectional material.