Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sergei Lukyanenko to Prevent Publishing of Ukrainian Authors in Russia

The popular Russian fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko has forbidden translating his books into Ukrainian.

He stated it in his blog along with picking to pieces those Ukrainian sci-fi writers who have supported the Euromaidan.

“From now on I do not go to Ukraine, I do not participate in Ukrainian conventions, and I forbid translating my books into Ukrainian” - Sergei Lukyanenko wrote with a reference to the Maidan events.

Besides, Mr. Lukyanenko addressed Ukrainian science fiction writers, without naming them though. According to him, the addressees know whom he means. “Glorify Maidan fighters and bring them pie parcels, you half-wits. But if some of the literature “personas” that glorify Maidan and write in Russian and are published in Russia, want to appear on Russian conventions - I will be against it”, - the man of letters pointed out. Besides, he declared that he would make every effort to prevent their publication in the Russian Federation.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Malevich’s Black Square: key work of the 20th century

Malevich’s Black Square: key work of the 20th century

Not only Malevich’s works have become symbols recognizable throughout the world, but the artist's life itself continues to inspire many references featuring events and his paintings as players. Literature is just one of the art fields we have to thank for making Malevich a true pop icon.

Thus, the smuggling of Malevich paintings out of Russia is a key to the plot line of Martin Cruz Smith's thriller “Red Square”. Another good example is American writer Noah Charney. His book “The Art Thief” tells the story of two stolen Malevich “White on White” paintings. The film industry too doesn’t fall behind. Malevich’s work is featured prominently in the 2011 Lars Von Trier apocalyptic drama “Melancholia”. With the Black Square the painter created a brand that has become a synonym of everything contemporary and novel, says Kirill Svetlyakov, the Director of the Department of Contemporary Art of The State Tretyakov Gallery.
“If you want to be modern you might use this sign of Suprematism – the Black Square as a key work of the 20th century and a sign of the modern. That’s why many people want to have something like a Black Square on their bags and on different things. This is a base sign of the modern,” Kirill Svetlyakov said.
Another art sphere with which Malevich’s name is closely connected is music. In 1913 Malevich took part in the production of the World’s First Futurist Opera. It was called “Victory over the Sun” and was intended to underline parallels between a literary text, a musical score, and the art of painting. As the opera featured a cast of such extravagant characters as Nero, Caligula, Traveller through All the Ages, and so on, Malevich faced a hard task designing the sets and costumes. He coped with it brilliantly though. A few years later Malevich designed the sets for another play, “Mystery Bouffe”, written by famous Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and produced by innovative director Vsevolod Meyerhold. Kirill Svetlyakov believes it was important for Malevich to prove the concept of Suprematism in a rather conservative theatrical field.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Anton Chekhov: Genius for Hire

The great Russian writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) desperately needed money all his life. But maybe his constant need for work was what produced many of his greatest masterpieces.
Chekhov had an exclusive deal with the publisher Adolf Marx, who owned the rights to all the writer’s works – present and future.  
The value of the contact was 75,000 rubles –a small fortune at the time, but Marx paid the sum in small installments, in return for new manuscripts. Nevertheless, Chekhov bought a small house in Yalta with money from this contract.
However, Chekhov found a way around the terms of the agreement – the contract didn’t cover plays. The book “The Cherry Orchard” was published by Marx, but royalties for the stage version went to the writer. It is no coincidence that more than half of Chekhov’s stage plays were written after he signed the contract with Marx – including “The Cherry Orchard,” “Three Sisters,” and no fewer than 10 short plays.
However, in becoming a playwright, Chekhov traded one set of problems for another – haggling with a publisher for money turned into haggling with directors over staging. For example, Chekhov arrived at one rehearsal of “The Seagull” at the Moscow Art Theater to hear frogs croaking, dogs barking, and dragonflies buzzing behind the stage. When he asked what the purpose of this menagerie was, the director said: “We are trying to make it all look more real.”
Although Chekhov spent his entire life looking for money, he was never short of ideas. He could produce a captivating story out of everyday situations. His works did not push a specific ideology, which was contrary to fashion of the time.
In reply, Chekhov delivered an impromptu lecture about art. “There is this great painting by Kramskoi," he told the troupe. “It captures human faces very well. What if we cut out the painted nose on one of the faces, and poke a real nose out of the hole? What do you think? The nose will look very real! The painting itself would be utterly ruined, of course… The theater stage depicts the quintessence of life. Please don’t put any extraneous elements there."

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Anna Karenina’s timeless allure

Russian actress Tatiana Samoilova starred Anna Karenina in 1967. Source: ITAR-TASS

When it comes to Russian style, the elegant ladies of Tolstoy’s novels spring instantly to mind, and none more so than his tragic heroine Anna Karenina. Almost a century and a half after the novel’s publication, Anna’s graceful wardrobe continues to inspire filmmakers and designers.

“Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had absolutely wanted, but in a low-cut black velvet dress, which revealed her full shoulders and bosom, as if shaped from old ivory, and her rounded arms with their very small, slender hands.”
In the late 19th century, the concept of beauty was vastly different from today. Feminine, almost Titianesque, figures and dresses were in style, emphasizing and sometimes exaggerating the figure. This is why none of the actresses in the new film version of Anna Karenina fit Tolstoy’s concept or description of female beauty.    
At the time, beauty demanded of its victims a lengthy and laborious process of equipage: “Though Kitty’s toilette, coiffure and all the preparations for the ball had cost her a good deal of trouble and planning, she was now entering the ballroom, in her intricate tulle gown over a pink underskirt, as freely and simply as if all these rosettes and laces, and all the details of her toilette, had not cost her and her household a moment’s attention, as if she had been born in this tulle and lace, with this tall coiffure, topped by a rose with two leaves.”
Bustles (a framework worn under the back of a dress to support and expand the skirt) and trains, lace and pearls, form-fitting coats and tall hats were all found in the fashionable wardrobe of the day. 
“Elegant overabundance” was in fashion; the abundance of drapery went hand in hand with the lack of openings on the back, while the length of the skirt was offset by its modest volume. Women were in love with accessories: gloves that buttoned, hats with veils, and the triumphs of the jeweler.
“The black velvet ribbon of her locket encircled her neck with particular tenderness. This velvet ribbon was enchanting, and at home, as she looked at her neck in the mirror, she felt it could almost speak. All the rest might be doubted, but the ribbon was enchanting,” wrote Tolstoy.
All of this splendor, with a few adjustments, would be surprisingly relevant in today’s fashion milieu. In 2008, Tolstoy’s masterpiece was curiously reinterpreted by famous Russian designer Igor Chapurin.
Igor Chapurin's collection. Source: Getty Images / Fotobank
At the 2008-2009 fall / winter prêt-à-porter show during Paris Fashion Week, models from the House of Chapurin appeared in flowing silk dresses and blouses, knitted overalls, fur coats of raccoon and silver fox, and even enticing tights and gloves that looked like they had been made from Orenburg shawls. And all of this was combined with the signature Chapurin silhouette. 
A refined and simultaneously modest dress with a stand-up collar and a row of closely-placed buttons lining the pleat, the waist accentuated by the restraint of a gorgeous long skirt – these are all hallmarks of the Karenina era.
There are about twenty film versions based on the novel, not to mention stage productions.

Zinaida Serebryakova Exhibition to be Held in Moscow


On February 13 the State Tretyakov Gallery opens the exhibition Zinaida Serebryakova. Parisian Period. Alexander and Yekaterina Serebryakovs. From Collection of the French Fondation Serebriakoff.

Zinaida Evgenyevna Serebryakova (1884-1967), an illustrious representative of the famous Benoit Lancer artistic dynasty, a follower of the well-known painter O. E. Braz, belonged to the second wave of the World of Art movement. In her works, which are stylistically close to the neo-academic school, she created the most charming women’s and children’s images in Russian painting. The exhibition is dedicated to the French period of her life - from 1924 to 1967. Galina Serebryakova’s paintings kept her Paris studio, including the well-known Moroccan cycles of 1928 and 1932, will be for the first time exhibited in Russia. Her canvasses and graphic art works will be accompanied with works by her children - Alexander Borisovich (1907-1995) and Yekaterina Borisovna (1913) Serebryakov.  

See more at: RiC 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Arseny Tarkovsky: On The Bank

He was sitting by the river, among reeds
that peasants had been scything for their thatch.
And it was quiet there, and in his soul
it was quieter and stiller still.
He kicked off his boots and put
his feet into the water, and the water
began talking to him, not knowing
he didn’t know its language.
He had thought that water is deaf-mute,
that the home of sleepy fish is without words,
that blue dragonflies hover over the water
and catch mosquitoes or horseflies,
that you wash if you want to wash, and drink
if you want to drink, and that’s all there is
to water. But in all truth
the water’s language was a wonder,
a story of some kind about some thing,
some unchanging thing that seemed
like starlight, like the swift flash of mica,
like a divination of disaster.
And in it was something from childhood,
from not being used to counting life in years,
from what is nameless
and comes at night before you dream,
from the terrible, vegetable
sense of self
of your first season.

That’s how the water was that day,
and its speech was without rhyme or reason.

Translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler