Voices from Russia

Friday, 28 May 2010

Ilya Glazunov: “A Cabin in Siberia is Better than a Villa in Miami”

The Mystery of the Twentieth Century

Ilya Glazunov



The figure at the extreme left is the painter (when he was younger), whilst the figure on the extreme right is also the painter, but at an older age.


On the eve of his upcoming 80th birthday on 10 June, the famous Russian painter Ilya Glazunov said, “Never have I felt so rushed to finish so many works”. There’s still some time left until his birthday, but as if in confirmation of his words, Glazunov opens an exhibition on 27 May in the Manezh, Moscow’s largest exhibition hall, entitled Илья Глазунов: Новые работы. 80 лет (Ilya Galzunov: Novye raboti. 80 let: Ilya Glazunov: New Works. 80 Years). On view will be fifty paintings illustrating the main theme in the master’s oeuvre… Russia. His outlook’s unique, being a fusion of the religious and monarchical. He received much sharp criticism for this attitude from both Soviets and contemporary “democrats”. Perhaps, that’s why this world-recognised painter, famous for his portraits of Indira Gandhi, Federico Fellini, and David Siqueiros, has as many enemies as friends in the motherland. Some call him a “Russian genius”; others call him a “reactionary academic”, showing the two extremes in the assessment of Ilya Glazunov’s creative output. However, this doesn’t bother him.


00 Ilya Glazunov. Russia,  Wake Up! 1994

Russia! Wake Up!!

Ilya Glazunov



“I have worked and still work for Russia’s benefit. I can’t imagine living anywhere other than Russia. For me, a cabin in Siberia is better than a villa in Miami. I received many offers to go and live in the West and in America, but what about the debt I owe to the Motherland? Only once did I feel that they would exile me from the Soviet Union… it was for my painting The Mystery of the Twentieth Century. Well, I had good luck, because one of the Communist Party bosses said, ‘We can’t do anything more to dissidents’. Otherwise, I would’ve been exiled, just like the writer Solzhenitsyn. I still believe that a Russian is anyone who loves Russia. For example, Isaak Levitan was a Jew, but he was also a great Russian artist, who loved Russia”, Glazunov said.


00 Ilya Glazunov. The Return of the Prodigal Son. 1977

The Return of the Prodigal Son

Ilya Glazunov



Do note the date… 1977… 14 years BEFORE the fall of the USSR… at that time, the precursors of the neocons were telling us how dangerous and entrenched the Soviet system was… they were wrong then… what about now?


Many of the paintings presented at the jubilee exhibition, Maestro Glazunov said, “were painted as a result of influence of my many trips into the Russian provinces”. For example, he felt most acutely the tragedies suffered by 20th century Russian peasants, when they were deprived of the right to own their land and forcibly rounded up into communal collective farms. In Ilya Sergeyevich’s opinion, the main work on display in this exhibition is Раскулачивание (Raskulachivanie: Cannibalisation), which depicts this intense episode in Russian history. The huge canvas measures 8 x 4 metres (26 x 13 feet), it has more than a hundred figures…


Prince Dmitri Donskoi: from the cycle “Kulikovo Field

Ilya Glazunov



“I first conceived of this picture of the destruction of the Russian peasantry when I heard these very peculiar words of Winston Churchill, ’I thought I would die of old age, but now I realise that I’ll die of laughter, because I learned that Russia is buying bread’. This was the consequence of Stalin’s reforms; it all flowed from the Bolshevik conquest of Russia. For a very long time, I’ve wanted to express the tragedy of the peasantry, the destruction of those who fed us with bread since ancient times”, Ilya Sergeyevich said.


A Rainbow (A Vision)

Ilya Glazunov



Again, notice the date, five years BEFORE the fall of the USSR… “There are none so blind as those who will not to see”…


Of course, Glazunov’s new paintings are in a realistic idiom, as is customary for him. Some even called him a “militant realist”. By the way, this stylistic stipulation does not deter young students from coming to Maestro Glazunov and studying under him at the Academy of Painting and Sculpture, where he passes on the tradition of artistic realism. Maestro Glazunov told us, “Once, I went to the Tretyakov Gallery, and I saw a bucket, a bent shovel, broken glass, and some other stuff. I asked, ‘I beg your pardon, is this under repair?’ They said, ‘Who’re you? This is an exhibition of contemporary art. This is an art work’. I support all kinds of art! But I’ve got to say that I totally agree with what the great Russian artist Vrubel said, “Only realism can create the greatest depth in imagery”.


O, God! Protect Russia!

Ilya Glazunov



Here is a link to a short three-minute video from NTV. It’s in Russian, but it shows Maestro Glazunov’s paintings, including his new masterpiece Раскулачивание (Cannibalisation). Please, watch the clip for that alone… it’s that worthwhile. Then, compare the life-affirming creativity of Ilya Sergeyevich with the corrosive hatred peddled by the George Weigels of this world. There’s no comparison…

27 May 2010

Tatiana Zavyalova

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

A friend who is a priest in the MP sent me this:

Thank you so much for talking about this genius. I saw his 1977 Prodigal Son in 1977. It had a big influence on me.

That’s what art does… and it’s why I cover it. Artists are more important than “entrepreneurs” are. A country with artists… painters, sculptors, musicians, composers, actors, dancers, actors, writers, poets, and photographers… is blessed. A country with “entrepreneurs” and their running-dog-lackeys in the press, academe, and government is cursed. Russia is blessed… America isn’t. That’s why George Weigel and his ilk are so evil. They bow before the altar of the all-consuming Moloch of the American Dream…

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

… they’ve forgotten that.



Khotinenko Received Patriarchal Prize for Cinematography for “Pop”

Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias (1946- ), gives the Patriarchal Award for Cinematography to Vladimir Khotinenko (1952- ) for his work on the film Pop

4-minute NTV video in Russian… even if you don’t know Russian, there are many scenes from the film… well-worth watching

On Tuesday, at the opening in Moscow of the 14th World Russian People’s Council (VRNS), Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias, Kirill awarded director Vladimir Khotinenko the Patriarchal Prize for Cinematography for 2010. Khotinenko received this high award, which was established by the Holy Synod of the MP last year, for his work as director of the film Поп (Pope: a slangy reference to a priest), which was released this April. In presenting the award, Patriarch Kirill pointed up that the film is devoted to the story of a priest, “in the context of a terrible national trial, the Great Patriotic War”, and expressed the view that Khotinenko “quite objectively and artistically succeeded in his attempt to depict these complex historical circumstances”. According to His Holiness, Khotinenko, “since he’s an ordinary person, based the portrayal of the priest [in the film] on his experiences of modern pastors (батюшки)”. As the patriarch noted, there were some reviews that criticised the film, but “the fact of this Patriarchal award says that, if we add up all the figures in this complex sum (the audience ratings of the film: Interfax), the balance will be absolutely positive”. In addition to Khotinenko, the leading actor in the film, Sergei Makovetsky, also won a patriarchal award. Besides the honour, there was also a financial prize from the patriarch, but the amount was not specified.

Trailer for the film Pop

25 May 2010



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