Description of the picture:
Burning darkness – Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich. 1924. Tempera on canvas. 88.5 x 117.0 cm
The painting, made in the manner characteristic of Roerich, is a mountain landscape with a group of people in long robes. It might seem that this area is fantastic, fictional, but there is evidence that the image accurately reproduces the shape of a glacier near Jomolungma.
The night is captured on the canvas – everything around is enveloped in a blue haze. Bright points of stars are clearly visible in the dark sky, but they do not scatter the surrounding darkness at all. The mountain peaks located in the distance almost merge with the sky, they are depicted in the same color, and only dark contours and deeper purple shadows make them prominent and noticeable against the background of sleeping skies.
The glacier is indented with sharp spiers of blue and blue ice. The upper parts of the glacier are “highlighted” with greenish-yellow moonlight, but there is no night luminary in the sky. Everything is sleeping, immersed in the darkness of the unconscious.
Because of the rotation of the ice cliff, as if materializing from nowhere, from the mythical Shangri-La, people appear in long, bright robes. In the hands of their leader a small object – a casket emitting bright, white light. This is the radiance of wisdom, love and beauty, which is designed to dispel the darkness of the world. It will drive away the cold, melt the ice and restore the brightness of the lost colors to people.
If you look closely, you can see steps carved in the rock behind the backs of people going out. They rise steeply and go into a deep dark cave carved into a monolithic rock. If we take into account the intended location and preferences of the artist, we can assume that in the form of this cave in the mountains is represented nothing more than the legendary Shambhala. People carrying the Light of Truth, enclosed in a casket – these are Great Teachers who came from a mysterious country to dispel the darkness reigning in our world. This is a metaphorical designation of darkness in the human soul, which so needs a bright and pure light of love, justice and participation.
Despite the use of almost monochrome colors and restrained visual techniques, the picture does not look flat or inexpressive. It has a very rich, rich light, and the clear, almost geometric contours of the rocks and the glacier give it the necessary dynamics.
This canvas impresses with its depth of content with discreet image methods and a high spiritual idea, enclosed in a simple rectangle of the picture."