Symboliс Functions of Pictures in N. Kolyada’s Play “The Boater Hat”
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Abstract: The article studies symbolic functions of intermedial references to paintings in the play «The Boater Hat» (1992) by the famous Urals playwright, director and actor Nikolai Kolyada. Although this play has repeatedly become the subject of attention of Russian researchers and critics in the context of other works by Kolyada, the symbolism of the paintings in it has not yet been specially considered. A detailed analysis of the ekphrasis of two paintings by the characterhero-painter Viktor Sukhinin has revealed their polysemantic functions in portraying the characters and presenting the main conflict of the play. The title of the first (only mentioned) picture «Love and Forget-Me-Nots» ironically characterizes both the love story of Victor and Victoria, and the character of Victoria, her superficiality and emotional amnesia. But Victor’s feelings and talent, making Alexander seek meetings with him, are expressed already in the first picture. Another picture is situated in Victor’s room during two acts and plays an important role in the development of the external and the internal plot. The article analyzes in details the explicit allusion of the second picture to the Hermitage Danaës through the parallels with the mythological plot and the history of the paintings by Titian and Rembrandt. The study explains the symbolic meaning of the picture in the characterization of Victoria and Katya and the relationship between Victor and Alexander. It is concluded that both Victor’s paintings are different versions of a female portrait and symbolize love, which is opposed to physical and spiritual death and the death of the soul associated with emotional amnesia. The pictures do not only characterize the personages, but also play an important role in the existential conflict of life (love) and death (ageing). This conflict is distinctly expressed in allusions to the Hermitage «Danaës» in which a young naked woman and an old woman servant are opposed in accordance with the Renaissance aesthetics. Victor’s painting contains only a young naked body (life and love), and the old women (symbolizing death) are taken out into the atmosphere of the early 1990s in which the heroes try to live. Another allusion to a Hermitage picture is presented in the final remark: Alexander lies in the fetal position, as if in the womb of Rembrandt’s Danaë, and an old woman leans over him.
Key words: Intermedial references, painting, modern drama, Danaë, Hermitage, Nikolai Kolyada.
Bochkareva, N. S., Zagorodneva, K. V. (2020). Symboliс Functions of Pictures in N. Kolyada’s Play “The Boater Hat”. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №3. P. 118-128. DOI 10.26170/FK20-03-10.