Mikhail Verkholantsev’s Tent of the Sun
My heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
Tehillim (Psalm 57:7-8)
Fate is determined by character and by metaphysics of the highest level. A man of action, Mikhail Verkholantsev responds to the appeal of Hellenism an era in which fate was a synonym for chance. The world is run by goddess Tyche at her discretion - she rolls a dice to decide to whom she will grant the right to change their life. The sculpture “Laocoon and His Sons” is a symbiosis of the freedom of will and the power of fate, as well as a symbol of Hellenism. As Tyche wills it, its second birth take place in Italy, in the era of Baccio Bandinelli and Michelangelo Buonarroti. The age of Mannerism begins. Eras and fates succeed one another and chance plays its role, or how else can we explain the emergence of the Mannerist Verkholantsev in Moscow in the 1960s?
Mikhail VERKHOLANTSEV. David and Saul. 2022
Acrylic on canvas. 90 × 90 cm
“I enrolled at the Stroganov School with all the first categories. We had an architectural curriculum, which gave us an advantage, in that we were introduced to doctrines such as composition and scale. In my first year, I saw an announcement on a message board - hobby clubs were inviting new members: singing, gymnastics, track- and-field athletics, engraving. I was approached by a seasoned old lag who said: ‘Don’t think twice. Hurry up to the engraving club. The teacher there is F. Voloshko, they have nude models, and in your department, nudes are only in the third year.’ To see a nude female model! I ran there at a gallop. So, I’m taking a seat close to the platform, securing my piece of paper and waiting for a beauty straight out of Leighton or Semiradsky to step from behind the screen. Voloshko, meanwhile, is a student of Deineka, and Deineka was fond of meaty, muscular bodies, so from behind the screen steps a real symbol of Socialist Realism. She’s big. She’s muscled. And the soles of her feet are flattened under the weight. I was stung to the quick and thought: ‘Here! Look at the world up close. Can’t I back off?’ I look around - everyone has their easels ready, there’s no backing off. Irked, I started drawing in a sadistic fashion, contorting her heavy forms, magnifying her folds. In short, spewing sarcasm. Voloshko approaches me: ‘Oh, my! You’re some Expressionist! Otto Dix! Beckmann! A talent!’ He sat down, corrected the flat sole and gave an order to give me a piece of linoleum so that I could carve my drawing. And that was how, quite by chance, I became an engraver, fully aware that all this talk of genius and talent was accidental too,” says Mikhail Verkholantsev, xylographer, painter, Distinguished Artist of Russia and full member of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts, with a laugh. In spring 2022, on the occasion of the artist’s 85th anniversary, the Academy hosted his solo show called “Reveries and Symbols”.
His architectural training at the Stroganov School taught him to “hit the target” in terms of scale. All of Verkholantsev’s paintings feature compositions from his xylographs. Scaled up, they become powerful and monumental. Love for the human being as the singer of the Almighty, a passionate desire for beauty, a mixing of music and visuals - David’s Psalms, stories from the Old Testament such as “Jacob Wrestling with the Angel”, “David Healing the Soul”, “David Dancing Before the Ark of the Covenant”, a series of longitudinal prints entitled “Virtues and Vices” - these are his reveries, his obsessions, his themes. Beauty rather than prettiness, dynamism rather than playfulness, monumentalism rather than emotional affectation. Something was holding back the artist, as if, inside him, there was a pivot lending sophistication to his view of the world. A fine and aesthetically calibrated artistic connection links him to the artistic legacy of the Basnins, a well-known family of collectors and artists.
It was in Irkutsk that the Siberian merchant Vasily Nikolaevich Basnin (1799-1852) started collecting prints. He preferred portraits of statesmen and leaders of the church, views of towns and monasteries, Biblical narratives, book illustrations. Eager to showcase the best masters of European schools, his son Nikolai Vasilievich Basnin (1843-1918), a Moscow lawyer and trustee of the Rumyantsev Museum, put together a collection of the finest quality. Nikolai Basnin was a highly educated person. He trained as a musician in Paris, taught by none other than Hector Berlioz. He was a consummate pianist and cellist. In 1918, Nikolai Basnin’s widow, Ann Elizabeth Williams, gifted his collection to the Rumyantsev Museum (now at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts). Mikhail Verkholantsev first saw prints from his great-grandfather’s collection at a show organised by this museum in 2010. So how did Verkholantsev preserve his ancestors’ aesthetic principles and visual preferences?
There is an old proverb that says “A live fish swims against the tide” and it is an apt description of Mikhail Verkholantsev. He is not one of the academic “demigods”, nor is he a “scion of the dynasty” covered with the patina appropriate for a descendant of the distinguished merchant family of Basnin-Verkholantsev. An explosive temper, wittiness, sarcasm, artistry: he seems to bear more resemblance to his father, Mikhail Osipovich Nekhamkin (1895-1937), who was born in Chernigov, one of many children of Iosif Nekhamkin, a kerosene warehouse sales clerk, and Etta Nekhamkina (nee Rabkina). Iosif was extraordinarily jovial and daring. His son Mikhail, a hero of the Civil War, inherited his father’s fiery temperament. In 1921, Mikhail joined the Bolshevik Party, which bestowed on him the nickname Zuk. Contemporaries wrote of him: “A stout lad, short in height, a hotspur and good-timer”, “Neither the Tsar's prison nor exile to a faraway place has broken down this robust fellow. His pluck and bravery went together well with his inexhaustible sense of humour. He himself soldiered merrily on and infected others with his optimism.”
From 1918 onwards, Zuk took part in many military operations and contributed to the formation of the first Red Cossack regiment. In 1925, he was a military adviser to General Feng Yuxiang, who delivered to the Soviets the White Army commander Boris Annenkov. In 1931, Brigade Commander Zuk married Nina Verkholantseva, granddaughter of the Basnins. In 1936, Zuk became a victim of Stalin’s Great Purge. Misha was born two months prior to his father’s execution, on April 25, 1937. At the registry office, clerks refused to register the child under the surname of an “enemy of the people”, leaving only the father’s patronymic of “Mikhailovich”. The infant’s mother was put in prison and then miraculously released; in 1938, she was exiled to the village of Vesiegonsk, near the town of Kalinin.
When Mikhail Verkholantsev was one year old, he was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis. He spent five years lying on his back, in a plaster cast, staring at the ceiling of a hospital in Moscow, which was evacuated during the war from its Yauza neighborhood to the Uralian village of Pozhva. When he recovered, he learned to crawl, then to walk, supporting himself against the walls. His mother brought him home to Vesiegonsk in 1944. “They thought the new arrival would be a cripple.” And indeed, this new kid was scrawny but so aggressive, so expansive, a veritable rowdy - the first thing he did was array in order of size precious Kolinsky sable-hair brushes and trim their tips. “I was wild, egocentric, clingy and, on top of that, I drove everyone crazy singing for hours on end. Within a year and a half, I started walking, I shaped up and, in 1945, I went to school. The endless fights in our courtyard gave my body a certain athletic quality,” reminisces the artist. What was life like for this little hero, this captive of his plaster cast? His artistic evolution could have been something like Frida Kahlo’s, with her tragic psychoanalysis, but Verkholantsev’s art is free of self-flagellation. The painter created only a handful of self-portraits, although he lent his features to some of the figures in his compositions. What he has in common with Frida is the principle she lived by: “Viva la Vida.”
Upon his graduation from the Moscow State Academy of Arts and Industry (formerly the Stroganov School) in 1961, Verkholantsev actively exhibits across the USSR and internationally. He stubbornly searches for a stylistic idiom. He is not interested in “the austere style” and black-and- white prints of "Favorsky’s circle”, which dominated the 1960s. Verkholantsev’s woodcuts originate from his fascination with the 16th-century woodcut makers, with the silvery backgrounds of Thomas Bewick’s student Charles Thomson and with Vasily Masutin. He eagerly studies the linear visuals in the Mannerist silhouettes, the figura ser-pentinata technique. As an engraver, he marries the oldtime techniques of printmakers with the modern expressive drawing style, as well as the compositional elements of Mannerism. Verkholantsev develops an original style, which is not understood by his colleagues. According to the artist’s biographer and wife, Olga Mishina, there was no hope of the state purchasing his art or commissioning book illustrations; he earned his bread producing layouts for books and magazines, and engraved at weekends. In 1983, Verkholantsev was admitted to the Union of Soviet Artists. An aesthete who chose “the middle road”, he turned to Old Testament themes. That was the birth of the rational grotesque - the high point of Mannerist Verkholantsev’s artistic life.
In the 1960s and 1970s, he worked for magazines as a designer, creating cover pages and using elements of Constructivism and the avant-garde. Many artists in that period had their style partially informed by their work in publishing, their work with texts. The works of Ilya Kabakov or of Erik Bulatov are examples of this. In Verkholantsev's case, it is the other way round - there is even a cognitive dissonance between his own artistic programme and “the requirements of the day”, which included both official and unofficial trends.
He did not reflect in his art the surrealism of his hungry life in Vesiegonsk, unlike Oscar Rabin with his barracks in Lianozovo. Vesiegonsk remains only in his stories, spiced up with Pantagruelian humour and sarcasm. What a curious metamorphosis - “losing touch” with modernity, with “actuality”, he catches the first vibrations of European postmodernist culture. The xylographer reimagines countermelodies important for him, paraphrasing various works: Picasso’s imagery in the print “Chimeras”, Andre Derain’s image of Pierrot in “Don Quixote”, Yves Tanguy’s forms in the print “Neo-Platonism and Controversialism”, a citation from Mac Zimmermann in the watercolour “Uriah’s Departure”. Citation as an insistence on high spiritual standards in relation to oneself, an attempt to understand the experience of the great ones - how else can you explain El Greco’s engagement with the theme of Laocoon?
Verkholantsev’s obstinacy in asserting his individual artistic worldview - what does it consist in? Let’s return to Moscow in 1894 and listen to the stirring speech of the artist’s grandfather, Nikolai Vasilievich Basnin, at the 1st Congress of Artists and Art Lovers: “As you look at DQrer's simple woodcuts, you automatically start thinking clearly and you feel somehow light at heart, you start believing in humanity somewhat, and the modern cult of the past alone entitles us to think that our era, the era of the downfall of thinking in art, is transitory, that people themselves feel that something is amiss from modern art - and what is missing from it is that spiritualising truthful approach to artistic endeavour which, carved with an inspired artist’s energetic chisel, even in these technically imperfect 16th-century works of art survived through several centuries and reached us with a beauty so young that we instinctively say to ourselves: it is from here that the spiritual succession of future art should come.” This report addresses Basnin’s doctrine of collecting, his admiration for classic art, for technically perfect workmanship, for things accomplished. “Art cannot be lofty without spiritual beauty, and without ideas, it will always be lightweight and negligible.” There can be no doubt that this was the dynasty’s aesthetic principle.
Interestingly, Nikolai Basnin, who continued to build his collection right up until his death in 1918, did not buy drawings from “The World of Art” painters, although the prominent Russian xylographer Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva had already distinguished herself by then. Nor does his collection feature the art of Ostroumova-Lebedeva’s spiritual mentors, such as Vasily Mate, Felix Vallotton, or James Whislter. The collector eagerly bought up the etchings of Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin, Taras Shevchenko, and his family’s friend Nikolai Mosolov, as well as lithographs by Vladimir Makovsky, Grigory Myasoedov, and Paul Gavarni. A century later, Mikhail Verkholantsev, musing about Ostroumova-Lebedeva’s woodcuts, characterises her as “a talented painter cum portraitist with a keen artistic sense of environment,” calling her woodcuts “chiaroscuros” and briskly exclaiming about her surviving woodcuts: “How could she carve a block of wood en plein air, drawing straight from nature? You have to treat blocks carefully, handle every little strike delicately, elaborate your composition in your studio!”
In Vesiegonsk, where Mikhail’s mother and grandmother brought a part of the Basnins’ library and their own paintings and watercolours from Moscow, the artist was introduced to masterpieces of Silver Age printing: the magazines “Apollo”, “The Golden Fleece”, “The World of Art”, “The Firebird”, “The Capital and the Country Seat”, and “Bygone Years”. Encyclopedias illustrated by excellent artists, Giovanni Bellini’s “Allegory of Purgatory”, Sergei Chekhonin’s pieces. The child would crawl on all fours to the bookcase and eagerly stare at the pictures in these books in expensive leather jackets, with marbled paper fly- leafs, with illustrations protected by delicate tissue. There are surviving copies, made by the child, of Antonio del Pollaiuolo’s “Battle of the Nudes” and Piranesi’s “The Views”. Mikhail lived in a strange world of mundane postwar frugality, amidst the grand portraits of Politburo members his mother painted at night, his grandmother’s Art Nouveau drawings and volumes that recalled a life of luxury he never experienced. The perception of reality as a combination of dream and actuality produced a phantasmagoria and the poignant sense of freedom of the flight of artistic fancy.
The artist could have died in the hunger-stricken war and postwar years, a grave illness could have broken him. This did not happen thanks to the courage and selfless care of his mother, Nina Vasilievna Verkholantseva, and grandmother, Anna Nikolaevna Basnina, who worked day and night. His only memories of his grandmother were of a severely ill woman bed-ridden by polyarthritis. Anna Basnina (1879-1947) finished the Stroganov School of Technical Drawing (1897-1903), where she studied under Fyodor Schechtel, Stanisfaw Noakowski, Sergei Ivanov and Nikolai Sobolev. Basnina was a talented graphic artist, painter and applied artist who created stained glass for lanterns and lamps and designed sets for these shows for children. Her love for puppet shows led to her friendship with the well-known puppeteer Nina Simonovich-Efimova. Her father’s home was often visited by the art scholar Nikolai Romanov, the collector and engraver Nikolai Mosolov, and the painter and collector Ilya Ostroukhov. Other guests included Ivan Bilibin and Vasily Polenov, as well as Ivan Tsvetaev, professor of Moscow University and founder of the Museum of Fine Arts. Some of her illustrations bespeak Basnina’s interest in Bilibin’s Russian Style. Her artistic legacy demonstrates her artistic virtuosity - she blended the Silver Age’s traditions with the Russian avant-garde, and her style was close to Goncharova’s and Larionov’s, which can be seen especially clearly in sketches of costumes for theatrical performances and in certain illustrations. Basnina had a perfect mastery of colour and an outstanding talent for caricature. Her characterisations of human figures, although childishly spontaneous and fresh, also betray the hand of a seasoned master who worked alia prima, often foregoing pencil drafts. As a decorative artist, Basnina created watercolours of stylized flowers, floral ornaments and sketches for stained-glass compositions in the vein of Art Nouveau with elements of Art Deco. Her works are held at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
Her daughter Nina (1908-1978), from her only marriage with Vasily Pavlovich Verkholantsev (1877-1921), co-owner of a machine-building plant on Krasnaya Presnya, followed in the family footsteps and also became an artist. Almost none of her paintings and drawings survive, but the handful that do evidence a great talent for painting (“Self-Portrait”). Nina Basnina trained under Ilya Mashkov at the art school run by the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AARR). Her recollections of Mashkov’s teaching manner are noteworthy: “Mama told me about Mashkov’s class assignments. Still lifes. White upon white: a white dish, a white drape, white eggs on the drape. This was the very first major assignment: please, see for yourself what is warmer and what is cooler. Shadows inside a building - the shadow is always warm and, under the light, it’s cold. And it’s the same with all objects: eggs are yellowish, so their shadow on the piece of cloth is warm and, under the light, everything is cold. Blue on blue, red on red. This is how he taught.” Mashkov developed his teaching system first at his privately run school, then employed it at the VKhUTEMAS art school, and later at the school run by the AKhKhR. Sure enough, when the demanding Nina Vasilievna taught Verkholantsev Jr. painting, drawing and composition, preparing him for the entrance exam at the Stroganov School, she applied Mashkov’s gold standard.
Life in the land of the Soviets echoed the linia serpen-tinata, only it warped the proportions of fate rather than of figures. Nina Vasilievna was dismissed from the AARR art school as a person alien to the Socialist state. When Nina’s brother, the pianist Vasily Vasilievich Verkholantsev, emigrated from Russia, his departure had a devastating impact on the lives of all members of the family. Nina Vasilievna moved to Leningrad and married Mikhail Osipovich Zuk in 1931. She enrolled in the department of painting at the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, to study at the workshop of Isaac Brodsky, who, in 1934, became the director of the Russian National Academy of Fine Arts. Alexander Laktionov was one of Nina’s classmates. The surviving family heirlooms include a monograph on van Dyck published in Leipzig and carrying the inscription “To Nina Verkholantseva - a third-year student and the highest achiever of VAKh’s political club in studying decisions of the 17th congress of the Bolshevik Party. To a participant of the political debate on June 9, 1934.” Appreciative of her talent for painting, Brodsky was fond of her.
For 40 years, up until her death in 1978, Nina Verkholantseva lived in Vesie- gonsk. This uncompromising, courageous woman became a veritable pillar of culture in the community. She taught German and drawing at school. For many decades, she gave art lessons in her house. One of her students was the chairman of the Kalinin (now Tver) Regional Union of Artists, Gennady Pavlovich Klushin. She found comfort in theatre, organising a drama club and a full-scale puppet and shadow theatre. An avid theatregoer from childhood, Nina was especially fond of the Moscow Vakhtangov Theatre. At the AARR art school, she participated in student performances together with her friend Elena Geydor. After her retirement from service in 1963, Verkholantseva devoted all of her time to organising theatrical performances, writing scripts, directing plays in the House of Culture, training an art brigade, and organising a children’s theatre in the House of Young Pioneers. In 1976, Verkholantseva staged the play “The Decembrists”. Decembrists, who were educators in Irkutsk, received help from the Basnins, and a century later, Basnin’s great-granddaughter, in exile, stages a play about the Decembrists.
Mikhail Verkholantsev is one of the few Russian artists who practice a synthesis of music and painting. And shouldn’t you turn to David the Psalmist for ideas for new compositions, to listen to the special music of the spheres, capturing it on the canvas or engraving lines of fate on an end-grain board?
Keen on playing the mandolin and the lute, Verkholantsev mastered an authentic playing technique. His passion for music is shared by his wife, the singer and fine musician Olga Nikolaevna Mishina. The goddess Tyche assigns those she has chosen a happy lot - they are an excellent creative pairing. This alliance of creators in the late 1970s formed a musical ensemble consisting of a soprano, a countertenor and a lute player and performing Baroque and Russian folk music. When their daughter Sofia grew up, she joined as a flute player. The team performed the music of the Trecento: Giovanni da Cascia, Jacopo da Bologna, John Dunstable and Guillaume de Machaut. Sofia Verkholantseva de Salis started out as a talented engraver, but music is jealous and she gave her heart to it. The flute player performs both solo and with orchestras in the world’s best concert venues: the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Tonhalle.15 By sheer chance, Sofia’s husband dropped into an antiquarian book store where, on one of its shelves, he found a precious multi-page obituary-cum-memoir of Sergei Rachmaninoff, written in German by Nina’s brother Vasily Vasilievich Verkholantsev (1905-after 1930) and published in Zurich. Now, the obituary is kept in Mikhail Verkholantsev’s library.
“Self-Portrait with a Harp”, “Gabrieli and I” (a joint portrait of the author with Giovanni Gabrieli, organist at St. Mark’s Basilica in 1585-1612), “David the Psalmist”, “David and Saul”, “Phoebus and Pan”: here is what might be called an antagonism between pop culture and classic art. Even Verkholantsev’s “Apocalypse” is full of music, but what sort of music does he hear? Bach’s chorales? The artist is full of music, he is attracted to the theme of Orpheus: “The Power of Music” is one of several compositions on this subject. The print “Ricercar16 on Rosso’s Themes” features an improvisation mixing music and xylography, which is devoted to one of Verkholantsev’s favorite artists, Rosso Fiorentino.
Being part of a dynasty is an honour, a responsibility, a burden to carry. The “backbone flute” of the divisive 20th century tied its blood vessels of memory into a Gordian knot of trials, tribulations and suffering. Art - engraving, music, paintings - secured disparate links of memory into a single chain of events. Verkholantsev’s Tent of the Sun is the history of his family.
- Tyche (Тиуп) can be translated from Greek as “chance”, “fate”, “that which has been decided by lot”, goddess of chance and luck.
- Nina Vedeneeva, “A Mirror of Human Soul,” in Mikhail Verkholantsev, A Memoir of a Descendant of the Basnins - a Siberian Family of Art Patrons - About Their Practical Wisdom and Contribution to Siberian Culture, compiled from the memoirs of Vasily Basnin. Tobolsk: Tobolsk Reconstruction Fund, 2018, 25-31.
- In 2010, the personal collections section of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts held an exhibition called “Masterpieces of European Graphics from the Collection of Vasily and Nikolai Basnin”, curated by the head of the graphics department Natalia Vedeneeva. A catalogue of the show was printed and became a collector’s item. The show introduced 300 prints selected from 8,500 pieces. The artists featured included Albrecht Durer, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, masters of the School of Fontainebleau, Jacques Callot, Claude Lorrain, Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, William Hogarth, the mezzotints of John Smith and Richard Earlom, Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and many others.
- S.E.Lazarev and A.A.Gulyaev, “Hero of the Civil War Mikhail Zuk. From the memoir of Red Cossacks veteran General E.P.Zhuravlev,” in Journal of Military History, August 25, 2015. At www. history. milportal.ru
- Olga Mishina, “Origin of the Style,” in Bibliophiles of Russia, ed. A.P. Tolstyakova. Moscow: Lubimaya Rossia, 2005.
- Nikolai Basnin, report delivered at the First Congress of Artists and Art Lovers in Moscow on April 24, 1894, "On the Meaning of Engravings in Art", in Artist. Moscow: 1894, Vol. 1.
- Ibid., 3.
- From conversations with Mikhail Verkholantsev. May 2022, Moscow.
- At the AARR art school, Nina Verkholantseva’s fellow students included Viktor Bibikov and Gennady Babikov. She was especially close to Elena and Ivan Geydor, parents of the sculptor Vladimir Geydor. Elena Nikolaevna Efremova Geydor was a native of Vesiegonsk, and the Geydors would lend a helping hand to the family of an “enemy of the people”. Elena’s brother Vladimir Nikolaevich, one of Vesiegonsk’s first commissars, might have helped also. Viktor Bibikov would stay in Moscow, build a career, and become a xylographer. Gennady Babikov in 1934 would move to Turkmenistan with his family and found the school of Turkmenian landscape. His son Stanislav Babikov (1934-1977) would gain recognition as an artist.
- From conversations with Mikhail Verkholantsev. May 2022.
- Vasily Verkholantsev struck up a friendship with Rachmaninoff when still living in Moscow. In the composer’s three-volume memoir, Verkholantsev’s name is mentioned on 17 pages, where he is referred to by his “domestic” name “Vasya”. Vasily Verkholantsev wrote a memoir of Rachmaninoff - a unique account. The public learned about it thanks to the efforts of writer Vladimir Krutov, who called it “V.V.Verkholantsev’s Memoir”. A part of the memoir was published in "Ivanovka. Times. Events. Destinies: Works of the Rachmaninoff Museum: Almanac 5 / V.V. Krutov, L.V. Shevtsova-Krutova. Moscow: MAKS Press, 2012, 5-67.
- Now, St. Petersburg Repin Academy of Arts.
- Nina Verkholantseva directed numerous performances, beginning in 1940. Performances at secondary schools: puppet shows and shadow shows: “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”, “The Humpbacked Horse”, “Ivan Krylov’s Fables”, “The Fair at Sorochyntsi”, “Aladdin and His Magic Lamp”, “Andersen’s Fairy Tales”, etc. Dramas: “The Little Tragedies”, “William Tell”, “The Snow Maiden”, “Christmas Eve”, “Parisian Communards”, “The Snow Queen”, etc. Performances at the House of Culture: “Masquerade”, “The Stone Guest”, “The Bedbug”, “Mozart and Salieri”, “Intrigue and Love”, “The Naked King”, “The Decembrists”, “Pygmalion” and many others. She created the sets and props all by herself. She forewent payment for her performances at the House of Culture in order to be able to choose the plays she staged independently.
- Olga Nikolaevna Mishina has been a choirmaster, singer, student of folklore, teacher, TV journalist and winner of the Second Soviet Festival of Folk and Soviet Music. She performed the music of Soviet composers at the Moscow State Philharmonic Society and on Soviet television. In collaboration with the composers Zhanna Kuznetsova, Tatiana Chudova, Leonid Bobylev, Irina Elcheva, Tatiana Smirnova, Vyacheslav Artemov and Vladimir Pikul, she created several series of songs using folk motifs. Since 1993, she has curated shows of Mikhail Verkholantsev’s graphics and put together his biography. In 1983-1993, she directed an ensemble of chamber and folklore music at the Railroad Workers House of Culture. She is the author of monographs about her husband.
- Sofia de Salis’s career is advancing dynamically. She has performed with Neues Orchester Basel, Biel Solothurn Symphony Orchestra and the State Symphony Capella of Russia. In 2017, together with pianist Elina Kachalova, she produced a record called “French Impressions” (Schubert, Franck, Schumann; on the Ars Produktion label). She recently teamed up with pianist and composer Vladimir Sverdlov-Ashkenazi and soprano Daria Davydoa in the trio Magic to perform modern music and classical masterpieces.
- Ricercar was a form of free-flowing polyphonic composition in the 16th century, an early kind of fugue.
Acrylic on canvas. 90 × 90 cm. Detail
Watercolour on paper. 60 × 60 cm
Acrylic on canvas. 80 × 90 cm
Watercolour, ink, pen on paper. 27 × 45 cm
Two-block end-grain woodcut on paper. 9.7 × 9.9 cm
End-grain woodcut on paper. 17.5 × 15 cm
Three-block longitudinal woodcut. 45 × 29.5 cm
Three-block end-grain woodcut. 16.7 × 16.9 cm
Two-block end-grain woodcut. 10.7 × 10.1 cm
Longitudinal woodcut watercolour, bronze. Artist’s book “Virtues and Vices”. 25 × 25 cm
End-grain woodcut. 16 × 14 cm
Oil on canvas. 33.7 × 23.6 cm
Watercolour on paper. 79 × 53 cm
Watercolour on paper. 35 × 20 cm
Watercolour on paper. 22.5 × 30 cm
Gouache, bronze. 28 × 20 cm
Paper-mache, fabric, cardboard, paper
Acrylic on canvas. 70 × 70 cm
Acrylic on canvas. 70 × 70 cm
Acrylic on canvas. 70 × 70 cm