– JAHRGÄNGE 2014 –

Nicolas Roerich
And we labour (1921-1922)

It is one of the six paintings of the Sancta series realized during the painter’s journey to the United States. Each painting depicts key points of the teaching of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (14th century), spiritual guide and inspirer of the Russian monks. In recreating scenes from the lives of the saints, Roerich shows us the beauty of the inner world of man and speaks to us in a pictorial language of the horizons of spiritual asceticism.

On a canvas filled with gilded light the monks descend toward the river to take water. Their assiduous work is simple but symbolic: physical action opens the way to spiritual development. A sinuous undulating river, curved silhouettes of monks and arched shoulder yokes find their echoes in the humped forms of the hills. The rhythm of these elements gives the painting a light and mysterious aspect, and evokes in the spectator a sense of harmony and calm attainable through daily work. Roerich’s metaphor is very simple: the true value of work lies in the moral and spiritual perfection of man. It is Roerich-philosopher who manifests himself through such paintings.

Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was one of the greatest figures of Russian culture of the twentieth century. Painter, philosopher, mystic, writer, explorer, archaeologist, public man. During his life, he made some 7,000 paintings and wrote about 30 volumes of literary works. Nicholas Roerich is the author and initiator of The Roerich Pact, founder of international cultural movements Pax Cultura and Banner of Peace, knight of several Russian and international decorations. From 1917, he lived abroad. He organized expeditions to the Central Asia and Manchuria, founded the Himalayan Urusvati Research Institute and more than a dozen cultural and educational organizations and associations in different countries. Beginning in the 1920s, Roerich museums and societies were created all over the world. Communities of supporters of his philosophical and religious doctrine Living Ethics (Agni-yoga) appear. Roerich’s ideas greatly influenced the establishment and development of the New Age movement in Russia.

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Vintage 2014