Friday, September 30, 2011

Art Inspirations: Slavic Folk Art of the Weird

As I gear up to start layout for Hill Cantons:Borderlands, my thinking is again hovering around art direction. If you remember way back when in February I was dead set on the sourcebook having a very distinct look from most gaming art--one that reflected the aesthetic inspirations driving the admittedly quirky vision in my mind's eye.

Thanks to my lovely old folklorist friend back in Slovakia I have been running through in the past few days another great streaming font of art inspirations, modern Russian painters that make my Bilibin-loving heart go thumpety thump.

First up on the new short list of inspirational sources is the work of Vsevolod Ivanov, not to be confused with the late, great Soviet writer/journalist of the same name. Ivanov was born in 1950 in Belmorsk in Russian Karelia and was relegated to only exhibiting work in amateur exhibitions during the Soviet era. These days his work is fairly well known in the well...fairly unknown circles of Slavic neo-paganism.

Just take a gander at some of his paintings of the last decade. They exhibit an almost Gloranthan vibe at times that I just love. Make sure to click on the pictures to get the full effect. 

Dark Alv and Bright Alv (2004)
Orders for the Hyperborean Fleet (2006)
In the Town of Slovenske (2004)




19 comments:

  1. You beat me to it! Glad I'm not the only one digging on the Glorantha feel of this artist's work.

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  2. Good GOD, this is beautiful stuff. As a fellow lover of Bilibin, this really speaks to me. If you can get something even half this cool for the Borderlands book, you'll be doing great.

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  3. It is incredibly evocative stuff, right?

    @Fabian
    I held back on some of his stranger (and I mean that in a good way) even more Gloranthan work. Maybe something to post later.

    @Blizack
    Yep that's why fingers are crossed about navigating the language and legal barriers.

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  4. My whole family digs this. Thank you.

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  5. That last one made me think of a 'non-scifi' version of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks...

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  6. That's some really beautiful artwork.

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  7. I like this guy's style. It's a cross between the Brothers Hildebrand and Thomas Kinkade.

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  8. There's the witch in her steam-punk flying chariot - that's a fave of mine.

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  9. Some of those are reminiscent of scenes in Wolfhound.

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  10. I wish I knw what was going on here.

    http://www.ostrov-gallery.ru/artists/vsevolod_ivanov/gallery/proshchay_atlantida/

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  11. It's like Bilibin and Otus had a baby.

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  12. These are wonderful. The details and gingerbread-house candy-colors are almost hallucinatory. I also like the way Ivanov has slightly elongated all of the figures (look at the mountain peak, the ships' hulls and sails, the headdresses, the "totem poles"). It gives everything a subtle, weird vibe.

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  13. @DS
    It's a cross between the Brothers Hildebrand and Thomas Kinkade.

    That's actually dead-on (the sugar-pop brightness of Kinkade and the Tolkein epic work of Hildebrand) plus a big whiff of the elongation and weird flourishes Matt mentions above to give it an extra twist.

    Come to think of it the Glorantha allusions may be even closer style-wise if you count in Richard Bober's work: http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2011/03/we-need-more-gaming-art-like-this.html

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  14. @Bert
    I was going to post some of the even odder stuff. I think what's going on thematically is an epic cycle of the Hyperborean myths, that have some truck in a few esoteric Slavic neo-pagan and Pan-slavic circles.

    Namely this belief that a great civilization was raised 60,000 years+ by space colonists around the North Pole and then was spread by ship out of the Slavic areas until it met it's Atlantis-like cataclysmic doom or the like.

    Wait that sounds kind of familiar to a certain game we are playing...

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  15. To wit: http://www.newdawnmagazine.com/Articles/hyperborea.html

    The lost Hyperboreans have a big, if mostly unexplored, place in the hazy backstory of the Hill Cantons.

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  16. I currently live in Bulgaria - a Slavic country - and while I have not see art quite like that in content or quality, there are many small differences in the asthetics here.

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  17. The presence of the iconography in the village/town vistas remind me of northwestern american native villages, with their totem poles and painted symbols on tribal halls.

    Next adventure challenge is to roll a d6 and write an adventure using the rolled up picture.

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  18. @ckutalik - I'm an art historian by training (specialised in 14th century European art) and these pictures are superbly evocative. The detail and the jewel colour saturation both say early Flemish but the light is something entirely its own. Can I possibly sound any more pretentious?

    Liking Red's suggestion very much as well :)

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