Landscape with an Accordionist

1996, Oil on Canvas, Size: 20 x 16

Accordions have a bittersweet place in Russian history. During World War II, if a Russian soldier captured a German accordion, it was considered a revered trophy. After the war, Russian veterans would often earn a living playing these accordions near local train stations. With my father a career officer, we constantly relocated, trading one small town for the next. Each new town had a train station, and it was there that I saw the inevitable accordionist. Although patriotic in his medal-decorated coat, it was his missing limbs, unshaven face and somber songs that revealed the brutal scars of war.

When I painted this image, the antiquated accordions were long obsolete and replaced by modern CD players. This painting honors the accordionists, who played melodies to themselves, stroking the music with their fingers and ear. The nighttime ambiance offers a bit of tenderness and hope. Although the grueling war has long been forgotten, the tune remains.