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Discover the Beauty of Palekh Art

The small village of Palekh was known throughout Russia to be the artistic centre of some of the best icon-paintings ever produced in Russia. It is also home to one of the leading Palekh art schools, even though there are a few schools scattered across the country. Becoming a certified Palekh artist is not as easy as it might look. The course takes four years to complete and, even though hundreds of artists send in applications to attend; only five artists graduate each year. The standard for Palekh art is very high, as it is a tradition that has become more popular over the years, and opens a world of opportunity to artists.

Palekh art is the detailed painting of lacquered boxes. After the 1917 revolution, many artists found themselves without jobs and had to scramble to find another means of making an income. One magnificently talented artist, Ivan Golikov, took his experience of Russian painting and applied it to creating miniatures. These miniature works of art were painted on boxes and even though they were small, the intricate detail and expression on the boxes quickly caught the attention of other artists, as well as the public. After a successful exhibition in Venice and Paris, Palekh art became the latest sensation.

The boxes display depictions of folklores, historical battles, romantic encounters and many touching scenes. The motifs are always representations of history, bringing to life the beauty and kindness of humanity and positive aspects of life of which Russian folklore is an easy medium to follow. As the art developed, seven artists decided to establish the Old Painting Artel, a shop from where they could work and sell their breathtaking black lacquered box masterpieces. The art form was not only limited to boxes, but was applied to plates, porcelain, toys, glass ware and vases.

The art of this painting style became a tradition that was passed down through family members, bringing to life the many colorful scenes, including one of the favorite fairy tale symbols of Palekh art - the fire-bird or Zhar-Ptitsa. Today, this wonderful art form is still alive and growing in the village of Palekh, with more than three hundred Palekh artists still producing these beautiful art pieces. Most of them have been taught by their parents, and only a handful have actually graduated from an art institution. And it is easy to see how the artists who live here can be inspired amongst the picturesque scenes of rolling landscapes, the mysterious beauty of the woods and the magical natural wonder that inspired so many artists for centuries before them.


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