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Youth is a happy but fleeting state. No part of our lives is as carefree and happy as the first half. Our eager, alert senses reflect signs of acquired knowledge, filling us with various impressions and experiences. But with the passage of time our youth is replaced with middle age — a time of worries and calculation, cooler feelings, a duller perception of the brightness of being. Life still goes on but it loses its wonder and freshness. Only a few of us, who haven't lost their inner light, preserve the Youth of Spirit. They are blessed with a brighter perception of the precious manifestations of life, and, often, with the ability to prolong these feelings and events. Such people, most often, are artists — poets, musicians and painters.

I would like to tell you about one such person, dear reader, a person whose acquaintance and friendship I was blessed with.

Alexey Zhigalin-Vishnyakov is an artist who possesses that wonderful ability to feel and prolong the life of his impressions, giving them new life in his creations.

Alexey is a young artist but he already has a solid educational base, as well as great experience in different genres of painting — from portrait and monumental painting to landscape. His talented and productive work gave this artist well-deserved recognition. The portrait occupies a very special place in Zhigalin-Vishniakov's work. Thanks to Alexey's productivity, his work is recognized and well received by the public in many countries around the world. His portraits are amazing. They are full of light, not overburdened with the excess detail, which can be so damaging to the image one wants to convey. His principal task, the artist believes, is to convey the psychology of the model in front of him. Aleksey Zhigalin-Vishniakov's portraits are poetic.

He adores the people he paints and tries to reveal every little detail of their character.

You feel as if you are witness to enjoyable conversations the artist is having with each one of his models. His restrained manner doesn't interfere with the main objective — it's only a means of achieving it.

The composition of his works is typical for traditional Russian painting. The non-imposing background and seemingly unfinished interiors are the traditional means of achieving the main goal in portrait painting. In the quality of his brushwork you can detect, absorbed through centuries, the influence of the great old masters like Van Dyck and Velasquez, as well as the exquisite simplicity of Serov.

Another genre Zhigalin-Vishnyakov is well known for is landscape. In this genre he reveals himself as a sentimental poet who is also capable of attentively researching the source of his inspiration.

His work in landscape fits into the concept of poetic realism, a trend born in the 19th century, which most probably will be around for as long as artists are capable of enjoying the beauty of the world around them. In Alexey's landscape we can see two different artists: one rational and calculating, the other carefree and emotional, letting his feelings roam free and his heart move his brush. But this characteristic is true only in the landscapes of Russia he loves so much and in seascapes. When you look at his urban scenes you find that a lot of attention is given to every little detail. Whether he is dealing with the streets of Moscow or Florence, sultry Bukhchisarai or magnificent St. Petersburg, you feel as if the artist's brush is wandering slowly around studying and absorbing every little detail as a precious manifestation of history, tradition and way of life. In striking contrast, his seascapes give you the impression that the artist is completely carried away and that his brush is living the life of the sun, the water and the air… and the majestic world in front of you transforms into twinkling transparency. It's the seascape that stands out as the most interesting genre in Alexey's depiction of nature. His seascape, more than anything else, reflects the ever-transforming and multifaceted world around us.

Still-life, though not as interesting as portrait and landscape, is another important genre in the work of Zhigalin-Vishnyakov. His still-lives are a kind of artistic apocryph of the brilliant examples of previous centuries' still-lives. It is clear that the artist worships Dutch and French still-life masters. His brushwork is also polished and delicate. The background is also colorful and exotic. Alexey's still-lives are characteristic of the same craftsmanship as the work of the French and the Dutch of the 17th and 18th centuries. The quality and sophistication of the brushwork are such that you immediately realize that you are looking at something expensive.

All this is only the beginning. A wonderful career lies ahead for this artist if in his youth he is already a serious painter. Yet being a serious painter he still has not lost the enthusiasm and the sentimentality of youth. With all his success he is still hungry to paint.

A very happy life lies in front of this man and this artist. He will enjoy recognition and fame.

His works will become precious additions to any art lover's collection.

October 7, 2001