From November 12, 2021, to January 30, 2022, a large-scale intermuseum exhibition project called “Serenity and Delight” was opened at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall.
The exhibition spotlighted works by more than 100 Russian artists (including Vladimir Borovikovsky and Vasily Tropinin, Sylvester Schedrin and Orest Kiprensky, Fyodor Tolstoy and Karl Bryullov, Ivan Shishkin and Arkhip Kuindzhi, Mikhail Nesterov and Viktor Borisov-Musatov) from the collections of 36 leading museums in Russia and abroad.
Project curator — Semyon Mikhailovsky, rector of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts
“There will be no battles at the Manege exhibition, no heart-wrenching dramas, intense passions, heightened emotions, or alarming mysticism. The exhibition Serenity and Delight is an idyllic story of art that never made it to the era of total transformation.
Of course, the story was full of tragedy. But we intend to emphasize a world of kindness and serenity, where the bel paese of Italy is the place of inspiration and the family circle is permeated by the quiet joys of home, where Russian motifs evoke a pastoral mood and nature is full of charm. Harmony is manifested in the consonance of color and the purity of nature, in serenity and in beauty.”
Semyon Mikhailovsky, curator
The project’s soundtrack is the creation of composer and pianist Anton Batagov. The album of musical compositions to be played at the exhibition will subsequently be released by the record label Fancymusic — the largest publisher of new Russian classical music.
“The concept for this project immediately seemed close to my heart, and I gladly agreed to write music to accompany the exhibition. In this case, the curator is doing exactly the same thing as a contemporary musician who composes music in which we do not “overcome space and time”, but rather listen to the harmony of the stillness that shines through the modern bustle and psychosis.
Italy is like a dream, an image, and a source of inspiration all projected onto Russian art. This occurred in painting and music. The seed of the celestial bel canto melodies heard by Russian composers of the past germinated in Russian soil in a completely different way. It was not an imitation. It was a new reality of sound, similar in many ways to other music, but completely independent, with its own magic and melancholy joy. The Italian Theme runs through the music I wrote for Quietude and Joy like a penetrating dotted line, like the Promenade in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition: arising from faraway echoes, it is painted in various tones, giving way to other motifs, and fades into the darkness of the new era.”
Anton Batagov, composer
The exhibition’s architecture was designed together with Agnia Sterligova (Planet 9), and included several thematic sections. These works by 19th century Russian artists reflected images that take our memories back to the traditions of the past without accentuating the social and political problems.
As part of the exhibition project, the team at Manege also offered visitors a rich educational program (the events were held online). The program introduced visitors to the history and philosophy of the 19th century. By studying these masterpieces of fine art, literature, and music, program participants could discover an inimitable aesthetics that still interests and attracts our contemporaries to this day.