“Artists of Vladivostok - Kurilam” - this was the name of the unique exhibition, which suddenly became a kind of cultural bridge between the capital of Primorye and the distant islands ...
The exhibition was held on Iturup, Shikotan, Kunashir, Sakhalin from April to August and left in the souls of people living "in the farthest harbor" of Russia a very warm impression on Vladivostok.
Young artist and Kunashir not a hook
“Since 2005, I have been going to the open airs in the Kuril Islands - sometimes with student groups, then at my own expense - as it turns out,” says Anna Kopytina, a young artist, ideological inspirer and organizer of the exhibition. - I wanted to go to the islands for a long time, as soon as I found out about the Shikotan group. So called a large group of artists from Primorye, who in the 50-60s came to the open air in the Kuril Islands. It included the masters, whose names I pronounce reverently: Vladimir Rachev, Evgeny Korzh, Yuri Volkov, Vladimir Serov ... They worked on the islands, then, returning a year later, organized exhibitions there, showing their work.
Of course, during perestroika and later trips actually stopped. But ... I saw with my own eyes how life on the islands is gradually changing for the better, ”Anna continues. - If in 2005 the Kuril Islands were, in fact, a deep backwater in which everything fell apart, then from the beginning of the 2010s, life began to revive there. For example, in Yuzhnokurilsk they built a new House of Culture, combined with a cinema, paved the roads. Of course, not all decaying tendencies and moods have been overcome yet. And for the young inhabitants of the island the very idea that their native places can inspire someone to work, that whole landing groups of artists came here, seems ridiculous ... The thread is lost, artists rarely come to the Kuril Islands.
Get up, creative people, smokers have been waiting
“Two years ago I held a small exhibition of my own works in Yuzhnokurilsk, and a lot of people came to it,” Anna continues. - Then I thought: why not organize an exhibition of Vladivostok artists in the local House of Culture? They supported my idea in managing the culture of the village and promised to help.
In general, speaking of the cultural life in the Kuril Islands, today there is a unique, in my opinion, situation. A lot of singing, dancing, creative people. Excellent specialists in vocals, choreography - they came to the island from Ukraine. But there are few artists.
Anna Kopytina, having secured support in Kunashir, returned to her native Vladivostok and turned to her friends - young artists. And no one refused to participate.
“Initially, the concept was simple,” says Anna, “to show that there are many interesting artists in our city and how diverse the world of painting is. And then Alexander Gorodny learned about the exhibition, and everything became very serious. He drew Julia Klimko, an art critic, to form an exposition, presented the idea to expand the collection thematically, and provided room for storing paintings in the building under repair of the future exhibition halls “Art floor”.
“When Anna came to me and shared her idea,” Alexander Gorodny, director of the Artazhut municipal exhibition halls, starts talking, “I was literally delighted: after all, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Shikotan group! Such an amazing opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of a wonderful association of artists. I knew this whole group very well, many of them are no longer in this world, the others are old, and it is already difficult for them to travel that far. Therefore, it is doubly nice to know that such young artists as Anna continue the tradition. And even more so they take to arrange an exhibition.
I immediately turned to Yuri Volkov, Eugene Korzh, Vladimir Rachev - those who, in fact, are a Shikotan group. They provided their work. At a general meeting in the Union of Artists, he called out a cry - and people responded. And so the name “Artists of Vladivostok-Kurilam” turned out. What goals did we set when selecting work? First, show Vladivostok what it has become; secondly, to recall the Shikotan group; thirdly, to make the exhibition as diverse as possible by genre, but at the same time understandable even to inexperienced viewers. Of course, we had abstract paintings, but quite understandable. And all the exhibits - with a positive charge!
In the spring, the “Artage” was undergoing repairs, but we found rooms for collecting paintings. I only regret that the idea of the exhibition was born spontaneously and quickly, that we simply did not manage to turn for help, for example, to the culture department of the Vladivostok administration, which, I am sure, would also help us.
- Anna, the host party set some conditions for the genres of paintings, asked for work on a specific topic?
- They trusted us and were very respectful of the choice of Alexander Gorodny and Julia Klimko. I must say that even when the exhibition unexpectedly expanded and became quite large-scale, they were not afraid, but continued to help, paid for packaging and transportation of work. In general, many helped us. Boxes for packaging and transportation - and this is very important - were provided by the Primorsky branch of the Union of Artists, which also reacted very favorably to the idea of the exhibition.
- And in the end, in the spring the Kuril Islands left ...
- More than 50 paintings from 39 participants. On April 6, on a ship with them, I left for Yuzhnokurilsk ...
And now - an island tour
“We opened the exhibition in Yuzhnokurilsk on April 23,” Anna Kopytina continues. - Moreover, for the local culture department and the leadership of the House of Culture it was a huge experience - they had to purchase minimal exhibition equipment, which simply did not exist, learn how to hang paintings, provide protection. At the opening came more than half of all the inhabitants of the village! Older people with tears recalled how they saw artists on their hills and in the village, how painters lived in their apartments. It was so moving ... The old friends of the Shikotan group came to the opening, many of whom became the heroes of their paintings - hunting experts, captains of small boats, fishermen. For example, Anatoly Mamotov, which our "Shikotans" still remember with warmth. And those who came to the Kuril Islands recently listened and were amazed ...
Suddenly, in April, Sakhalin’s governor Oleg Kozhemyako flew to the island on urgent and not very pleasant business (everyone remembers the story of the unpaid salary at the fish factory of the village). Someone told him about the exhibition, and he decided to look “for a moment” ...
“And in the end,” Anna Kopytina smiles, “he stayed for almost half an hour, examined, admired ... And for all his stay in Yuzhnokurilsk he smiled only at the exhibition!
“I can’t help but say that the very first exhibition that Art Floor held in Moscow (and it was called Vladivostok) was sponsored by Oleg Kozhemyako,” adds Alexander Gorodny. - Then he paid for the packaging and transportation of paintings.
After the visit of the Governor of Sakhalin to Yuzhnokurilsk, an unexpected turn took place in the fate of the exhibition “Artists of Vladivostok-Kurilam”. It was decided to show it on Shikotan, Iturup, as well as in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (in the new building of the Chekhov Museum) and partially in Kholmsk.
“We were literally torn to pieces,” says Anna Kopytina. - Local authorities helped with the transportation. All Kuril newspapers wrote about us. The South Kuril Museum bought ten works - mostly artists of the Shikotan group. And once the Japanese came to the exhibition, who arrived on a weekend trip, and they were also delighted, wanted to buy several paintings, but it was simply impossible by the timing.
I think that there was not a single resident of Yuzhnokurilsk or Kurilsk who would not have visited our exhibition. The book of reviews reads like a poem: people admire, wonder. I must admit, there were also negative reviews: they say it would be better to spend money on this or that instead of the exhibition ... But this is a normal part of any business - there will always be dissatisfied people. The vast majority of reviews were very pleasant, joyful. People realized that their native places, too far away, as they thought, from the mainland, admire the beauty of artists, that everything is possible if you try ...
You know, in those days, a forum was held on Iturup in Kurilsk, the guest of which was Anatoly Wasserman. He also visited our exhibition and wrote a wonderful review. In his opinion, such projects should inspire artists to new creative business trips to the Kuril Islands.
But the most touching were the reviews of the children. The project, which showed them that creative, cultural ties are continuous, that Russia does not have “forgotten corners” (and it is very important to know when you grow up), I am sure left a bright imprint in their souls.
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