Louisa Buck: Bold and brushy and perfectly innocuous

A critic's view
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The Independent Online

It's a little throwaway illustration with no real artistic merit apart from the fact that it's painted by one of the most powerful men on the planet.

It's bold and brushy and perfectly innocuous; it's not trying to be anything particularly grandiose. He isn't looking at modernism, that's for sure; he's definitely looking at folk art.

I don't think it took him very long, but it does have quite a nice, breezy spontaneity. It's quite a painterly picture, done with a flourish and a sense of élan. In terms of the brief he was given, it answers it in quite a literal way and is quite unashamedly nostalgic and romantic.

It has a feel to it of being toasty inside while the snow falls outside. The feel of it is quite folkloric, harking back to a kind of rose-tinted past which probably wasn't a reality for most of Russia's peasants. The window is a kind of old-world, four-paned one. You don't see windows like that on Stalinist apartment blocks, put it that way.

It's great that he's done it and it's a perfectly sweet little window – I'm not going to give it a hatchet job because it's done for a charity auction, and Putin isn't professing to be an artist in any way. He's signed it across the top incredibly conspicuously, and that's what seems to be the main attraction – it's very much about the fact that it's by him.

Louisa Buck is contemporary art correspondent for The Art Newspaper