'Through The Eyes of Fechin" is on view at Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in Taos. It showcases the artist Nicolai Fechin's talents with many never-before-seen paintings on loan from private collections, works from other museums, rare photographs from family archives, drawings and sculpture. It is an invitation to experience Fechin in the Taos Hacienda he built and called home from 1927 to 1933.
One of the many highlights of the exhibit are 30 photographs from the family archives including his travels to Mexico and Bali. The photographs in the exhibit, especially those taken in his travels, reveal Fechin moving easily in cultures not his own.
Taos Art Museum Director Christy Schoedinger Coleman, said it was Fechin's granddaughter Nikki Donner who suggested the inclusion of the photographs. "Many people aren't aware that Fechin was also a photographer. I think visitors will be interested in seeing what captured Fechin's attention through his camera lens."
The paintings in the exhibit cover Fechin's time in Russia (where he was born and completed his early studies and work), Taos and California. Visitors can discover how the artist's style evolved over a few decades. Works include paintings that have passed down through multiple generations of a family.
"Through The Eyes Of Fechin" is a window to understanding the artist's transformation as a painter, his powerful intellect, passion and skill against the backdrop of Fechin House, which is said to be the artist's love for his family made manifest in art. Surfaces of the iconic hacienda are not flat, nor are the angles and ceiling lines linear. This 4,000 square-foot, asymmetrical adobe Pueblo and Mission Revival house, with 24-inch walls is a stunning example of Southwest architecture and is an epochal landmark in the architectural landscape of Taos. Fechin's mastery of metalwork, sculpture, wood carving, painting and drawing is never more clear than in the house that Fechin built.
Galina Tuluzakova, Fechin scholar and longtime resident of Kazan, Russia (Fechin's birthplace), said what distinguishes Fechin from other artists of his generation was his "ability to combine concrete and exact knowledge, the knowledge so deep it allows him to be so free and spontaneous [in his art]." Tuluzakova has seen Fechin's work in museums all over the world, but said, "His house (in Taos) is the best place. Everything is in harmony: the texture of the walls and the texture of the paintings. I know museums must be alive and I see Fechin House is alive."
Recently I asked Galina to take a look at the photographs in the Taos exhibit and give me her impressions. At the time, she was attending the opening of another Fechin exhibition. This exhibit included Fechin's work from the Kazan Museum at the Tretyakovskaya Gallery in Moscow. Here are her thoughts about the work on exhibit in Taos.
"Fechin was born in Kazan, his father was a simple artisan, kept a carpentry workshop, where they cut iconostasis for churches, primarily rural. Therefore, every summer the father went to work in the village and took his son with him. The village and the people walking barefoot on the ground have been associated from childhood with the most beautiful things - naturalness, fresh air, freedom. This has become a part of his 'I.' When he studied in St. Petersburg, he entered the artistic elite, and this also became a part of his 'I.'
"Having emigrated to America, he was always in the circle of the rich and famous," Galina continued. "But he always needed these components of his nature to be balanced. Therefore, Taos was so harmonious for him, where everything was together and mixed - rich and not so rich, artists and poets.
"While living in Los Angeles, he 'got' this balance with travels to Mexico and Bali where another facet of his talent was revealed - photography. He was on equal footing with sometimes grimy, barefoot, beggars, but happy and full of life with people. And they felt it perfectly. They were on the same wavelength; therefore in these photographs there is no view from the side, not from top to bottom, there is a feeling of excitement of the inescapable flow of life."
There are 25 paintings, 12 sculptures, 30 photographs and a handful of drawings in the Taos exhibit. Each work is a story that captures a glimpse of the artist's vision and the journey from the hands of Nicolai Fechin through family collectors, gallery owners and museum curators throughout the United States.
Visitors may want to consider multiple visits to appreciate the magnitude and scope of this rare opportunity to see the work of Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) "in harmony" with the artist's residence. Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. "Through The Eyes of Fechin" will run until Jan. 9, 2022.
For more information, visit the museum's website taosartmuseum.org.