Sergei Grigorev: He's Come Back (1954)
Here's a painting of a domestic drama from the Soviet era. As with so many genre paintings, the viewer is invited to imagine the story that is unfolding. The man of the house, the one who has "come back," is clearly in disgrace and a source of fear for the rest of the family. Is he an abusive alcoholic? Or is he in political disgrace and thus a danger to everyone he knows? Where has he come back from? Labor camp, maybe? And what's with all the tiny teacups on the floor by his feet? Who knows? But the characterizations in this painting are very well done: the wife is resigned, the son resentful, and the daughter fearful. As for the man, he's a little more opaque. There's shame and resignation, but something else as well, that's hard to pin down.