In the 1950s Nissky briefly abandoned working in oil for gouache. This temporary change in medium was to have a lasting effect on his style and from 1956 his oils demonstrate a deliberate exaggerated flatness redolent of fresco murals which lends a sense of the monumental to even his small-scale compositions. ‘In my gouaches, the organisation of space is of colossal significance.’ The new expressive role of colour, applied in saturated blocks; the use of contrasts rather than perspective to delineate space and the sacrifice of detail for even more generalised forms are all developments inspired by his discoveries in gouache.
In terms of subject matter, Hikers
remains true to the stated aims of the Society of Easel Painters with whom Nissky had associated at the beginning of his career. Here, he successfully combines the epic with the lyrical, the monumentality does not detract from the freshness and the sense optimism embodied by this representation of healthy Soviet youth. Nissky was himself an accomplished sportsman and in his landscape paintings, the landscape itself becomes another object of man’s activity. The striking use of perspective in this painting seems to place the artist, and by extension the viewer, within the composition as though we too are part of the hiking party, only a few steps downhill from the young couple on the rock.