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“There are lonely artists. They do not find any response or recognition during their lifetime. Away from the generations of their time, from the rapidly arising and drifting away “requests”, “directions” and “currents”, they contemplate and create their own, lonely, appealing as if not even to people (“Accept! Delve into! Heal and get wiser! ”), but to God (“Receive my lonely prayer!”). They do not turn away from people, but people turn away from them: people look but do not see, listen but do not hear, or, in the words of Heraclitus, "absent being present”. (I. Ilyin “The Lonely Artist”)


- I was four years old when my older brother was given colored pencils. I took these pencils and said: "I won't give them back." And a person dear to me, my mother's sister, said: "Don't touch him, he will be an artist". (V. M.)


Valentin Massow was born in 1937, on the centenary of the death of A.S. Pushkin, in the family of a provincial doctor and his whole life was marked by the struggle for the opportunity to develop freely, to multiply natural talent. The work of Valentin Massow became, as it were, a continuation of Pushkin's poetry, full of Divine light. His creativity was a new milestone in the development of painting.

El Greco said: “Talent is given by God and must return to God”. That is the point and meaning of any art, because the goal of human life is the path to perfection. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). The development of human civilization directly depends on the development of culture. The development of culture is impossible without faith, “because without God, the entire culture of mankind loses its meaning and meaning”. (I. A. Ilyin “The Crisis of Godlessness”).

Valentin Massow grounded a new direction in art – “Spiritual Realism”.

He entered the Penza Art College of K. A. Savitsky in 1953. Unfortunately, the Soviet atheistic education did not imply the proper development of talent. There was neither an individual approach to the student with the aim of carefully revealing the creative potential, nor its further improvement. Valentin Massow did not find support from the teachers, and in 1955, he left for the village of Prislonikha (Ulyanovsk Region), where the Soviet painter, academician Arkady Plastov lived and worked. Plastov was endowed with an outstanding talent, with a rare capability of spotting talent in other human beings. He was able to discern the spark of real creativity laid down by the Creator in the student sketches of a sixteen-year-old student. A. A. Plastov told him: “Valentin, God gave you a precious eye. Work as God puts on your soul and do not listen to anyone. Now there are a lot of hooligans in art”. All further creative development of Valentin Massow passed through a meeting with a talented artist.

- The more you love, the more you experience, and the more you experience, the more you love. This is the development. In 1962, I had a meeting with a very interesting art critic (unfortunately, I do not remember her name). I painted her portrait. After looking at my oil paintings she said: “You are very talented, but all your creativity is built on feelings. What will you do when the feelings run out? And I answered her: “For the Lord's hand comes off those artists who run out of feelings. Then art history would not know bad paintings”. (V. M.)


Valentin Massow went on a creative trip to Kuban in the fall of 1962. The need for this trip arose after the exhibition of Renato Guttuso. At the exhibition Renato Guttuso in Moscow, he fully understood the words of A. A. Plastov: “Work as God puts on your soul and don’t listen to anyone”. New nature, new creative conditions, beautiful autumn, opened up new opportunities for him. At that time, early oil paintings of Massow were like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy, impenetrable fog of Soviet sots-art.

- I worked for two years (1962 - 1963) in this state of happiness. However, when I was officially declared an abstractionist and formalist, I remembered the words of Plastov. Therefore, as not to irritate the authorities, I started working with watercolors. I worked really hard. (V. M.)

Valentin Massow went to Kyrgyzstan in 1970. He spent the whole of September in the "Celestial Mountains" like hermit monks who went to the mountains for spiritual perfection. Massow created one hundred watercolors and returned to Penza with a clear understanding of the chosen path. Since that year, his occupation with watercolor painting has become the main one in his life.

Valentin Massow traveled a lot. He met the professor of painting Alexander Myzin in Ferapontovo in 1972. When the shocked professor saw his watercolors, he said: “Your souls are related to Dionysius. You will give a big push of development of art.”

Valentin Massow was admitted to the Union of Artists of the USSR thanks to the recommendations of the remarkable artists Vitaly Goryaev and Academician of Art History Mikhail Alpatov in 1975.

At that time, membership in the Union of Artists gave the artist the opportunity to work calmly, without looking back at anything.

- I was in Moscow in 1977. There were many people in Moscow who had a very good attitude towards my artwork. They had a meeting with the artist Oleg Tselkov. Oleg Tselkov was an authority for them and his opinion was very significant for them. When Oleg looked at my paintings, he said: “You do what no one has done - everything that is left by art on earth”. (V. M.)

Valentin Massow understood the meaning of what O. Tselkov said only after 1979, - the year of his (V. M.) revelation.

Unfortunately, not a single photograph is able to convey the energy that comes from Valentin Massow's watercolors.

Light, comparable (I am not afraid of this word) with the Tabor Light, blinds the viewer. Unexplainable radiance comes from his paintings. It leads the viewer to delight and awe before God's majesty.

"Spiritual Realism" is Another Word for Art. This is a departure from matter, the dematerialization of the visible, the opening of another space of living prayer.

I am sure that Valentin Massow's creativity will change the world not only of fine arts, but of all world art.

Valentin Massow turned 85 this year. He lives in Penza, in a small provincial town.

I would like to end my article about Valentin Massow with an excerpt from a newspaper article by journalist Natalya Komaretskaya “A Man from the Gallant Age'': “It’s a shame that we don’t have the opportunity to appreciate the artist’s work, because there are no his paintings in the Penza Art Gallery. Most of Massow's watercolors are in private collections outside of Penza and abroad. Is prophet not without honor, save in his own country?”

Olga Romanoff

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