What we see is what we see. Not what we notice. Not the first time. Things need to be explored. Expanded. Take another look. Any museum. Any part of the world. Strolling through marble covered hallways, or simply browsing the local flea market, you will see. Artists display their wares in secure cases and in sidewalk splendor. At first glance we may become interested. After a few seconds we may see something that we didn't notice so immediately. And after several minutes, hidden quality and the spontaneous transport into another's imagination.
The "Matryoshka" is one of if not the most famous hand crafted souvenir in all of Russia. It is amazing to realize that this form of artistry did not even exist as early as one hundred years ago. At the end of the 19th century there was an outstanding interest in Russian culture and Russian art. A new trend, known as "Russian style" appeared. Special attention was given to the revival of folk peasant toys. These dolls, crafted in several sizes to fit one inside of the other, were originally patterned after the name Matriyosha, a very popular female name. It was derived from the Latin root "mater" which means "mother." Hence the reasoning behind the hidden dolls "inside" the larger "mother-like" figure. Brilliant creativity.
The technique to create these dolls remains unchanged. As a strict guideline, matryoshka's are made from lime, birch, alder and aspen. The trees used to make the wood are cut down in Spring when they are full of sap. The logs, once stripped to avoid cracking, are kept in the open air for two years! Only a true master can tell when the wood is ready. The doll is made on a turning lathe, a kind of vice that spins, and requires various knives and chisels of different size and length. The smaller figurine, which will not be taken apart, is made first. And before the doll is to be painted it is covered with starchy glue to make the surface ideally smooth and to prevent the paint from making smudges. The first Russian matryoshka was poked and painted with gouache and covered with varnish by S.V. Maliutin.
Subject matter is endless. From the creation of massive families, world leaders, animals and religious time lines, the possibilities are endless. There can be power and tragedy, hilarious comedy and thematic expression. This is what makes this art form great. There are no wrong answers, for there are no questions when it comes to artistic exploration. The image of the soul of Russia. Timeless. Information gathered from the well written literature found in the book "Matryoska," by L.N. Soloviova.
Each artistic medium has it's own personality. Opinions will vary. Information has a way of getting cluttered as time goes on. Each piece means something different to each person that comes into contact with it. Much like the days of childhood bliss. You gaze upon the puffy white clouds that decorated the placid blue sky. You laugh and point as another elephant appears, the rhino disappears. And as your best friend sees a mountain full of snow, you look at each other and laugh, knowing that there can be no wrong in this childish analysis. Both of you correct, visions of perfection.