‘Rye’, last remains of a forest

From the perspective of the forest A Rye Field by Ivan Shishkin evokes an ambiguous feeling. This is a great work of art, that in the first place. It contains artistically beauty, power and mystery in one.

The powerful pines and the endless fields of golden corn give the viewer a colour palette, detail and dimension with a great realistic and an almost 3-dimensional experience. As if one is on the place of action, 142 years back in time, somewhere in a vast Russian landscape, in another time and in another life.

The second mind comes in though, that from forest and true ecological perspective. As if I was the forest, speaking out. Was this painting an early warning that humans were aiming and heading to took all of the land, for rhymes and reasons, and destroy the sheer beauty of the forest ecosystem and all lives within it? Sure it was.

This painting really evokes two moods: that of romantic view and sheer beauty of composition, colour and craftsmanship and that of great loss at the same time.

Strange what history can do with perception and judgement. At least mine. The message of ‘Rye’ is more actual than ever. This painting should be a constant reminder of our not sustainable and therefor simplistic way of thinking. We can do better than this.


Shishkin, Ivan (1878) Rye [Oil on canvas]. Moscow: The Tretyakov Gallery.