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Russian folk crafts in a new way: The unique Mstera miniature of the Molodkins dynasty

People’s craft in its various manifestations flourished for centuries in Russia, because the people’s desire for beauty was always inexhaustible. And the secrets of mastery, handed down from generation to generation, have reached our days. And today in the village of Mstera, in the Vladimir region live four artists – the father and his three sons, by the name – Molodkina. And they create a unique minster miniature, panels, icons, wall paintings of interiors, book illustrations. Each of them has their own vision, their own style, their own handwriting and their admirers.

By the way, this fishery appeared in Mstera in the XIV century. And this small village became one of the centers of Russian icon painting. Lacquer miniature, as a side result of the activities of the masters, appeared much later – at the beginning of the XX century. It is still created by tempera on papier-mâché prepared on the basis of an egg-yolk emulsion. And her technique has special distinguishing features from other schools of Russian painting.

Well, firstly, its background is not black, as in Palekh, but colored and multi-layered, most often blue, with clouds floating across the sky. Secondly, it has the character of carpet decoration, where floral and geometric patterns are harmoniously combined. Thirdly, there is one more important detail: in his painting the artist, as a rule, creates in one of his works a whole narrative, story or even a stage performance.

The master miniature is based on the ancient Russian tradition of painting and folk art. Its subjects are diverse: from folklore, historical events to scenes of modern life. Compositional construction is based on a multi-tier and multi-scale images. Mstera’s picturesque miniature is distinguished by its special styling and bright colors, ranging from bluish silver and ocher yellow to fiery red. The background is almost always the traditional landscape or “Russian chambers”.

Master craftsmen like to say: “Palekh is a brilliant compromise between graphics and painting, Master is painting.” And, as a rule, the secrets of technology and mastery of lacquer miniatures were transferred from the older generation of artists to the younger. And family dynasties in Mstera to this day are, rather, not uncommon, but are natural.

One of such dynasties – the Molodkins family – lives there at the present time, creates its author’s works, modernizing them with his creative finds.

Vladimir Nikolaevich Molodkin 1945 (b.)
Vladimir Nikolaevich Molodkin – the father of the family and Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. In the distant 1960s, then graduated from the Mstera art vocational school and came to work at the factory as an artist of the 5th category.

Since then, the whole life of Vladimir Nikolaevich is closely connected with creativity and teaching. Since 1977 – Member of the Union of Artists of Russia, and since 2006 – Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. Throughout his creative career, he regularly participated in various domestic and foreign exhibitions of folk art.

As you can see, the art technique of the master with its roots goes deep into the traditional works of the masters of the past. But the new generation of the Molodkins sees the future of the mster painting in a completely different way.

Denis Molodkin (born in 1971)
Denis – the eldest son of the eminent master graduated from the Mstera School of Industrial Art, and nowadays he teaches there. Since 1993 – member of the Union of Artists of Russia. His miniatures are distinguished by a modern approach to plot selection, composition, and airspace balance. Unusually stylized and the images of his characters.

Since the beginning of 1990, Denis has been a regular participant in Russian and foreign exhibitions. Today it creates unique lacquer miniatures and icons, rare specimens of which are kept in the Moscow and regional museums of decorative, applied and folk art. His works are also in great demand with domestic and foreign collectors.

Nikolay Molodkin (b. 1985)
Nikolai Molodkin also graduated from the Mstör School of Industrial Art. And behind his shoulders the Pedagogical University, and he is engaged in teaching activities in his native school. Teaches new masters, conveying the wisdom and secrets of the profession.

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