I went to the Drents Museum in Assen for the "The Soviet Myth. Socialist Realism 1932 - 1960" exhibition. I won't quickly confuse this style with that of social realism again. The paintings were funny and disturbing because the reality portrayed is unreal. I love graphic novels and a lot of the faces in these pieces could have been made by Hermann Huppen, creator of the fantastic Jeremiah series. While in reality the museum was filled with fine, retired visitors, the canvases were filled with colourful young people, running and swimming, smiling and glowing, in surroundings wet and green, fertile. Full of energy and life. It's such a contrast to my knowledge of Stalin's Russia of the 30's - 60's which was drought and poverty stricken.
There is a piece by Pavel Filonov which I really like. The painting is called "Rabotnitsy na Fabrike 'Krasnaya Zarya'", translated into English: Workwomen of the Factory 'Red Dawn'. The Dutch text calls them "stootarbeiders" which is a term I've never heard before. One could say these were the best workers of the factory. But were they elite because they had worked for so many years, or because they laboured fast and so much? We are happy to see youth with potential for hard labour but not with old people who have in reality already worked forever. As the text accompanying the painting explains, it was not liked by the propoganda department that comissioned Filonov to make it because the woman depicted was old and wearing glasses.
Pavel Filonov died of starvation in 1941.