I usually avoid cubism as it isn’t my favourite form of art… to me it takes surrealism to a degree I am not overly comfortable with on a viewing level, which I know might sound odd from a self professed surrealism lover, but I just don’t see the need for cubism, but we all have our preferences.
Chagall’s painting actually intrigued me. It isn’t like other cubist paintings in my eyes as I don’t have to search for the underlying subject or wonder why a face has been readjusted to suit the cubist view.
Chagall was a Russian artist who lived between 1887 – 1985. He grew up in the small village of Liozna, which is where the influence for this painting has been drawn from. As a child he liked geometric patterns and this later penetrated his art work.
In 1910 he moved to Paris as was instantly drawn to the attraction of cubism and fauvism when he joined a small art academy, but he soon turned away from the academic regime of cubism with its analytical traits and found his own way to present work which didn’t invite the viewer to analyse the work, but to make them feel that it was something to rejoice and join in with.
Chagall injects a strong sense of the things he grew up with in this painting. There is a clear feel of the jewish culture that surrounded his childhood, along with the farming community and Russian folklore.
‘I and the village’ shows a green faced man, facing a sheep (it has been thought of as a goat by some critics), the man wearing a religious symbol around his neck and holding a tree. Within the sheep’s face a woman milks a cow. This central focal point donates a friendly exchange between animal and human, indicating the farming community and the trust and respect between nature and man. The tree between them possibly the indiction of the fruits of the union between the two. This could be seen as a nod to the tree of life.
In the background we can see a typical Russian village with a man walking down the street carry a scythe. A women playing a violin and two houses appear upside down as if they are reflected.
The whole painting brings a positive and happy feel to the memories which Chagall has growing up in the small village. The pallet is typical to the brightly coloured orthodox churches and cathedrals with are scattered across Russia, indicting a celebration of faith.
Critics have paid tribute to this painting in that it brings together Christian, Jewish, Russian folklore and Yiddish representations to show a community working together in harmony. While this may be a childlike view of the world, this is exactly what this painting was to Chagall; his memories of growing up, the stories that he was told and his experiences.
There is little more analysis which can be presented to this painting as the artist really wanted to draw the audience in to the fairy tale of his own memories.
This has a beautiful whimsical feel to it, and I can see the influences which surrounded Chagall as he grew up, which is what endears me to this painting.
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