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Nicholas Roerich was Russian, and a painter along with many other titles. He was a scientist, traveler, philosopher and much more. His surname, Roerich, means ‘rich of fame’, and truly captures the life of this sage. He lived in India for the most of his life, and contributed to Indian studies. He is the founder of the Peace Institute, the first institution to protect cultural values.

What fascinated me was his paintings, and his choice of color. I am pretty ignorant when it comes to the systematical studies of art and paintings, but I want to classify Roerich’s works in two major lines: red and blue.

On the Heights
Sophia

He produced thousands of works, but red and blue colors are clearly more dominant then any other one. His red somehow reminds me Van Gogh’s works. His blue, on the other hand is very much like the color they use in anime movies right now. Roerich lived between 1874-1947, so it was long before Mandelbrot taught people how to use fractals for creating vivid mountain shapes, or long before video games enjoyed high resolution colors. If someone had shown me Roerich’s blue paintings as scenes from anime videos, I would totally fall for it. For example, look at the painting ‘on the heights’ above.

Song of Shambala
Armageddon

My favorite red painting from Roerich is the Last Angel. It is a blend of Christian theology and Indian mysticism.

The last angel

Another equally eye catching work, perhaps his best known, ‘guests from overseas’ is a blue painting.

Guests from overseas

One of the best things about Russian art is that it is sometimes related to Turkey. As in ‘Sophia’, which means wisdom in Latin, and is used to refer to the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul in many Russian works, there is a link between ‘the guests from overseas’ and Istanbul. These vikings are coming to Istanbul in this painting.

I saw Roerich works after I returned from USA, and missed a good opportunity to visit his museum in New York city. The museum is located at 319 West 107th Street. When I return to NY city anytime, it will be the first thing on my agenda.

 

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