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Bridges of Amsterdam Essay

Leonid Afremov is a modern impressionist. He uses bright colours and strong strokes but he does not use a brush he uses a pallet knife. He developed his unique style of painting over many years, being influenced by other artists on the way. Afremov says that Marc Chagall was his biggest influence with his earlier work. He has then moved away from surrealism and into impressionism. Leonid was born on the 12th of July 1955 in Vitebsk. He was raised in a traditional Jewish household. Leonid had a difficult upbringing as he had to care for his paralysed Grandmother. His family were unwanted by many people in their town as they spoke Yiddish and practiced many Jewish traditions despite the anti-Semitism law. Leonid was a good student in school. he was interested in history and art. He attended every possible art class the school offered and even got private lessons from local artists. I did not know anything about this artist but his painting caught my eye when I was searching for a painting to write about.

I chose this painting because of the eye catching colours; I like the use of hot and cold colours and how parts of the painting blend while other parts don’t. The painting gives me a feeling of warmth and happiness I think this is because of the warm colours used and how bright they are this may also be because of the big bold strokes that are so obvious in the painting that make it just that little bit more unique than other artists. I think Leonid is trying to put across the message of happiness but it could also be a message of loneliness, if you look closely you will see that there is no one in the street and you can’t see anyone in the windows of the buildings. This painting is very interesting all together but one of the most interesting things about the painting is how Leonid made the lights on the bridge actually look like they are glowing the way he did this is by using different tones of yellow and orange to make a glow effect.

Leonid uses many interesting techniques such as how the textures are realistic especially in the reflection of the river, and how the tree blends into the sky but you can tell exactly where the leaves of the tree come to the end of the climb towards the sky. He uses a wide variety of thick and thin lines which are very different to the lines that you would see if the painting had been painted with a brush. The composition of this painting is different to other painting as I feel that there is no real focal point, your eyes just wonder around the canvas looking for something new to catch. You could tell who’s painting this is as there are no other artists that use these bold trade mark strokes that are mostly used in the sky but you can see little bits of them used in the buildings and in the tree’s What makes this painting just a little bit more special is that even though you can tell it is night there is still light bright colours in the sky which gives us a feeling of day but the way he has made the reflections in the river and the way the street lamps shine and the light in the windows of the building that is what gives us the feeling of night time.

The very famous painting “Sunday afternoon on the island of the Grand-Jatte” by Georges Seurat is in some ways very similar to Leonid’s work but in other ways not similar at all. The technique George Seurat used to paint this piece is very unique as was Leonid’s also the shadows and reflections are similar as they are both quite discrete about them. There may be similarities within the work but they are very different as Georges uses a very fine brush and normal colours but Leonid uses a pallet knife and bold colours as well as more texture to his painting. Leonid’s early work was influenced by Marc Chagall who grew up in the same town as Leonid.

Chagall was a surreal expressionist this comes to show how much Leonid has grown as an artist as he has experimented with many different styles and has grown to develop his own style of painting within the modern impressionistic way of painting. Many events in Leonid’s life may have affected the way he paints but he himself is positive that war was not one of them, Leonid moved to Israel as he found that he and his family couldn’t have a steady life in Russia anymore. Israel influenced him in many ways as he was an optimistic he found contributing the colours of the bright southern sun made his painting just that little bit more unique this is when he flourished as an artist the most in his career.

The society was a big problem in Leonid’s time as it was not very welcoming with the Jewish faith, he found this was the biggest problem in Russia and that was also one of the reasons that he and his family had to move. Even though Leonid was born in Russia he didn’t feel like it was his home country. i think this affected his painting’s in a big way, if you look at the painting you will see that there is no one in the streets its deserted it gives a feeling of serenity as if he wants to be alone separated from something.


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