Petrov-Vodkin is a Russian artist, writer, and teacher, in whose paintings three things are most often observed, sometimes in combinations, sometimes not. Maternity is the first thing. It can be a glorification of the image of the mother, her feat and holiness, or a hymn to the naturalness of childbearing with all its ordinary heroism.
The second thing is the children. As a teacher, Petrov-Vodkin often talked with them and in his paintings one can often meet children who are so alive that it seems – in the next moment they will break loose and run away, laughing loudly and stamping. The third thing is eroticism. He is completely unobtrusive and often unsolved, but he is – a hidden and sensual topic.
“Beach” – a picture in which there is the first, and the second, and the third, but nothing strikes the eye. Depicted on it is a pebble beach, a calm quiet river, large flat boulders. Women sit on boulders – obviously, girlfriends who came to swim on a hot summer day. One disassembles wet red hair so that they do not leave stains on clothes. The second is dreamy, thinks about something pleasant, putting her hands at her cheek as if in tenderness. The third rolls in her fingers the smooth pebbles collected by her. The fourth collects stones, standing with his back to the viewer, on his knees. The fifth is watching the others, her face is tired and skeptical, as if she is infinitely tired of this company, of this summer, of talk, of the heat and the whole world.
In the background you can see the mother who leads the child into the water. The child stared at the pebbles, the woman gently pushes him in the back, knowing that otherwise they will be stuck for the whole day, never reaching the water.
An ordinary, simple picture, painted with great attention to detail, with knowledge of the structure of the female body, with a desire to show how simple and beautiful such a pastime can be.
And everything is on it – mother and child near the water, soft unobtrusive eroticism in the naked chest of one of the girls, but all this is unimportant, because, adding to the whole, it becomes one.