'Vechernyaya Moskva (Moscow Evening newspaper)' writes about the life as an artist of the Russian painter Nikolai Kuzmin
and about his personal exhibition ‘Connection of times’
The Moscow Evening Newspaper: ’When I was a young man I spent the night at the station in order to go to the Tretyakov Gallery,’ interview by Evgeny Nekrasov with the artist in the series ’Those who live on a cloud.’.
And that is you?
That’s me. And there’s an apple. To me it’s the best symbol, the apple. There was once a song: ‘Red apple, the colour of the rose, do you love me or love me not?’ A children’s song... Paris, when you have chosen beauty, what have you given in return? The apple, a symbol of the realisation of beauty. A bird – ardour. Time - pendulum clocks... Now we walk across to the next room, and there stands the English Big Ben. To me it is connected with ‘Pavel Bure’ clocks – I grew up with their sound. In England you can still find cocks in cathedrals, and to us cocks are ‘The tale of the Golden Cockerel’ by Pushkin... It’s surprising how everything is connected. That’s why I’ve called my exhibition ‘Connection of times’.
But how did you land up in England?
That’s the artist’s destiny – the chance of fate. I was painting at the church of South-West, devoted to archangel Michael. A nice church – well all churches are nice. I’m painting. It’s winter. A man approaches, modestly dressed, and stands there without disturbing me. But painting on canvas is a long story. This was for half a day. It was cold, he was frozen. I have the feeling he wants to ask me something, but as I understood later, he doesn’t speak Russian, he’s from Denmark. But he was born in England.
In brief, he saw my paintings and invited me to Denmark and England. His name is Harry, an adjunct professor without much money by western standards, but an interesting man. And Denmark... once again the connection makes sense. Previously I enjoyed reading Andersen, and Harry took me to where the Andersen memorial stands, where one finds the world of tales.
What do you expect to get from this exhibition?
I don’t expect anything in particular. I realize that life is somewhat complicated. I just want to show my paintings at the Moscow Jubilee, the town that raised and brought me up.
How long have you been living in Moscow?
Since 1965, when I went to ‘The Stroganovka Art College’. But Nizhny Novgorod happens to be quite close to Moscow. I went to the Tretyakov Gallery when I was a teenager. You spend the night at the station, wash in the toilets, and go to the Tretyakov Gallery... All painters, of course, like the Tretyakov Gallery. I have liked it since my childhood.
Surely, in your heart of hearts you must be celebrating?
The celebrating was done by my family – my wife and my daughter. One gives through selfishness, when it is given by oneself. It’s the first time I’ve seen so many of my paintings at the same time. In the studio you see one or two paintings, and it’s necessary for an artist to look back from time to time, to see what comes after. I try to figure this out: what is life? Is it possible to embody life in a painting without personal and artistic workmanship, to put it bluntly.
...He smiles with his child-like eyes. As if nothing was more usual than these questions about the secret of the universe. What is life? If in general the answer can exist someone can come and see him, the cloud inhabitant.
By Evgeny NEKRASOV.