One of the most outstanding figures in the Russian art of the 20th century, whose legacy is not fully investigated, appears in new light at the exhibition "Labas: the Second Half of Life".
The exposition in the Kovcheg gallery features water-colours and drawings by Alexander Labas /1900-1983/ from the collection of the artist's son, which were never exhibited before.
The artist, a coeval of the 20th century, managed "to look into its eyes", portray the features of his contemporaries and technical wonders, avoiding servility and staying a romantic. The years 1924-1932 were the brightest period in Labas' creative activity, when he joined the Easel Painters' Society, which also included Alexander Deineka, Pyotr Williams, Yuri Pimenov, Alexander Tyshler, etc. Among these extraordinary personalities Labas was notable for his picturesque world perception.
Unusual sensitiveness, acute reaction to all the events and keenness on his epoch helped Labas to find his original and individual means to reflect the rhythms of the time.
The subjects of Labas' pictures, penetrated by the spirit of urbanism and pathos of creation, reflected contemporaneity: his landscapes always feature trains, steamers, air fields, skyscrapers or planes.
Labas managed to show Russia of that time in an authentic and lyrical manner. Even tragic war scenes are lit by the Sun.
The artist chose the city of the future and flights to the Moon as the theme to decorate the Moscow Pioneer Palace (1935) and the reconstruction of Stalingrad to decorate the Soviet pavilion at the World Exhibition in Brussels (1958).
However, there was a period of persecution. In 1933 Labas was accused of formalism and was not exhibited till the mid-1950s. He worked in a theatre and decorated expositions of other artists. He made dioramas and panoramas for Soviet pavilions at the World Exhibition in Paris (1937) and New York (1939) and participated in the decoration of the All-Union Exhibition of Economic Achievements. Labas' portraits depict beautiful women with sad eyes, the remains of bygone intelligentsia. The artist himself peers into his soul keenly and warily. Only in the mid-1960s Labas regained his popularity.