In this painting the author associated himself with a snowman. I don't remember everything, but the main clues were the "cold" color gamut of the whole picture and the absence of a bonfire (it's a tradition in Russia to make a bonfire on масленица/Marzanna), burning branches and reflections on surrounding objects. Thus the author completely disposed the painting from the original theme of winter coming to an end and the accompanying Marzanna celebration. In addition to this, he experienced strong nervous tension which is also the case of all the characters in the painting and also in his attempts to adjust all the objects and details. Even more: the characters look as if they aren't breathing - it's a projection of the world outlook of an inanimate snowman.
"The special feature of this picture in particular - and the new form of skill as a whole - in the fact that the author knew how to imprint on the linen not one static moment of time (as it was accepted millenium before it), but entire temporary shear. ... In reality on the picture is depicted only one troika, and only three houses. ... On our picture the genius of reckless artist imprinted precisely the impulse of time. Here there is not one object, which would remain without the motion at one place - the troika of horses flies forward, and houses relative to the eye of spectator change their arrangement in the space.
"The professor didn’t say what that sign was, leaving the students to do the guesswork. The only clues he gave was, “don’t look for small details, look at the whole; if you figure out what the phobia was, you’ve got the answer; ask yourself what could have preceded this scene; think of what the place would look like with all the objects removed“."
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