Isaac Brodsky presents us here a picture of Lenin at the Smolny school, the place where the Bolshevik Revolution was forged. However, it is a scene invented by the painter, since he did it in 1930, and even Lenin himself had already died a few years before.
Lenin in Brodsky's Smolny
We see the protagonist completely focused on his homework, reading a diary, writing some notes and supposedly waiting for someone to come, and that he will sit on the empty sofa that remains in the room. Some think it may be a quote with Karl Marx, as a referent of Socialism. But most choose because it is an allusion to Stalin.
And it is that Stalin favored many images in which he wanted to be linked to his government as the logical and just heir of the great father of the Russian Revolution.
Stalin's influence on the Russian art of those years is not only reflected in the theme, but also in the forms. He declared that abstract art was elitist, and that is why many avant-garde creators had to leave the country. And others like Malevich, famous for his suprematist style was forced to paint figurative scenes such as The Charge of the Red Cavalry.
Nevertheless, the figuration in Malevich never reached the level of Brodsky's paintings. In this case we are before an imagethat although this style did not exist, we could call it hyperrealistic, since it is almost a photograph of that moment. And there are pictorial details that really are of great pictorial quality, such as the care in the fabrics of the sofa or the shadows of the exquisitely painted furniture.
But the highlight is the representation of Lenin. We see him in profile, and the painter is able to give us the image of a hard-working man, responsible and concerned about his attributions. It is an emblematic image of the great revolutionary brain, a character who is always represented in similar attitudes, thus conveying the veneration that was felt towards him at the time.
It is not uncommon that with these qualities, his Brodsky art was highly appreciated during the Stalin regime, when art was to become just another element of propaganda. Something that actually all totalitarian regimes have in common, regardless of their ideology. It's about art endorsing leaders by showing their achievements and character.
And the painter's ideals as well as his style fit perfectly with this. So many of his paintings, made retroactively from news or old photos, like this one, become a kind of chronicle of the Russian Revolution and the early years of the former Soviet Union.