The Wanderers, or Peredvizhiniki were a group of artists in the late 19th century who dropped out of art academies across Tsarist Russia in order to promote change within the artistic community. This included making art more accessible to the common folk and dissolving the class barriers that deemed it as an elitist luxury. Ilya Repin was among The Wanderers, and his paintings portrayed a realist approach and served to bring light to the issues that plagued Russian society, while also emphasizing the Russian homeland and beauty. Or for lack of better wording, he conveyed Russian pride in strife and success. Repin’s approach to critical realism in Russian art, and truth in art, deemed him as one of the prime influencers for the Russian realism movement that took place in the late 1800s.
I particularly liked his piece “Alley in the park”, which he painted in 1880. This painting piqued my interest because it differs from the majority of his other artwork. Many of his pieces depict portraits or demonstrations, however, this was simply a beautiful portrayal of nature. During the Russian struggle of this time period, many could not be bothered to look around and examine and therefore paint nature, nonetheless see the beauty in the surrounding landscape. The bright greens and yellows serve as a distinct contrast to what we usually imagine Russia as during this particularly dark time in history, where the masses felt trapped and the peasant life was utterly mundane and laborious. I also find it ironic that this movement was by a Wanderer, and there happens to be a man at the end of the alley wandering through the park. The fact that he is by himself could portray how isolated many Russians felt they were at this time.