“Jack of Diamonds” was a union of artists who glorified the subject and objectivity. Painting in their interpretation became not art, but a craft, in which also, as in any craft, there are their craftsmen, their mediocrity, their geniuses. Just as talent is needed by a carpenter, it is also required by an artist, and as an artist can create a masterpiece, so can a carpenter. Mashkov, being a devoted member of the association, always adhered to its basic principles – in portrait, in landscape, in still life.
Blue Plums is a work in which he deliberately departs from realism. An orange towering on a platter surrounded by plums seems flat. Peaches and apples, laid out around, shimmer in different colors, but none of them is truly natural. Grotesque and deliberate negligence of execution represent the fruits depicted in the picture only with objects, rough hand-made articles and fakes for real life.
Not trying to transfer them to the canvas in all its beauty, Mashkov shows the inconsistency of painting, in any case unable to copy reality as precisely as possible. The picture in its interpretation is just an object that the master-craftsman made, and there is nothing sublime and divine in it. Glorifying the craft, glorifying hard work instead of inspiration, in the deliberate simplicity Mashkov finds expression of his own convictions.
His picture is a manifesto of simplicity and firmness of the hand, and this is how it differs from artists who consider their gift different from the gift of a shoemaker or a carpenter. Singing themselves, their inspiration, their elevation over people of simple labor, artists are unjust, because what they do is also done with their hands and also just a pale copy of reality. There is nothing divine and worthy of praise in this.