Many times the journalists
asked me: "How does Pyotr find themes and subjects for his paintings?"
I am always at difficulty when answering this question. And it isn't
because I am shy of an interview before a TV-camera or a Dictaphone.
Quite the contrary, since in my youth I was a local YCL-activist and
later an actress as well, I have already had enough experience in public
appearances. As a matter of fact I during all these years was never
able to explain even to me myself, how can a man, for whom the only
view of the nature within decades was bounded by the frame of the window
in his room, find themes of his paintings?
The only things that he could
see day after day were a five-storied dwelling house, a piece of the
sky, old women sitting on the only bench and children playing at their
play ground. The only changes that went before his eyes were the changes
of the seasons which brought with them their particular shades and hues.
The old women were going away forever, the boys and the girls were growing
up, new children and new old women came in their stead and the life
went on. And those were the only things that were left to see for a
man who dared to take brush in his now disobedient hands and to become
And there are some more things
that I can't understand during all these years. I can't understand,
why I never get tired when preparing canvasses when washing and cleaning
brushes, mixing paints and making all the preliminary jobs which are
necessary for a painter in order to begin his work. I can't understand
that breathless expectation with which I meet every new picture, that
rapture I am possessed with when seeing it. I can't explain, why it
is so distressing for me to part with that or another painting, why
I am so zealous trying to trace the further fate of "my" picture.
Why I let my troubles leave me only when I have enough proofs that everybody
likes "my picture", that it is needed, that it is being taken
care of, that it is hung in some much honoured place, say somewhere
in the bed-room of its new possessor, and not doomed to be buried under
a thick layer of dust in some attic.
I can't understand, how does
it happen that far from being timid and patient, hating to be an apprentice
of any kind, I for ten years have been with love and joy carrying out
the role of the apprentice of Pyotr Kirreyev, the painter?
This man in many respects still remains incomprehensible for me though
I have never been parting with him within forty years. Every day Pyotr
appears to be a new enigma, which I am trying to solve and to perceive
the mystery that yields to no logic and sometimes have no explanation
at all. How is it possible to paint a marine, which is filled with sea
freshness? How is it possible to paint the sunrises and the sunsets,
which in their color gamut are true to the tiniest hue? Is it possible
at all to paint the scenery one has not been to for fifteen years? What
kind of artistic inspiration is there to speak of, if Pyotr was always
a practical man with the sober view of things, if one would consider
his modus vivendi filled with a lot of hardships and restrictions?
When we are losing our own
people each of us begin to understand them. In the year 2002 Pyotr had
a hypertension crisis accompanied by a minor brain hemorrhage. This
stroke for a long time tied him fast to the bed. What kind of painting
could one speak of, if day after day Pyotr had to keep his bed making
no movement at all? At some moment wild agonizing fear mastered me.
Fear it is a mighty force that tears one's soul as a kite is tearing
its prey. But twenty years ago I learnt how to get rid of this feeling
and how not to let this spawn of the hell come close to me. Now I always
try to analyze the situation, I am in, and to evaluate it chucking off
all the fears.
Was I afraid on account of
Pyotr? No I was not because Our Lord always took Pyotr's side. Moreover
during these twenty years Pyotr had to bear and suffer so much and that
minor hemorrhage meant for him no more than wet slippers for a sailor.
Looking at the forlorn and abandoned brushes paints palettes and at
the easel I was afraid for myself, as it was clear for me that I could
not imagine how I should live not taking part in the process of creation
of new pictures. Without it everything was going to be dull and drab
and tasteless. I was looking at the paintings and suddenly it dawned
on me they smelled of my childhood and youth and I shared it together
The work upon a new painting
was for Pyotr a kind of psychological remedy. When working he utterly
forgot about everything around him and his unusually tenacious memory
willingly helped him to depict the native scenery of the life that had
passed long ago.
Pyotr, thank God, was a confirmed hunter and thank God he was given
the time to walk on foot not only throughout all the Ñrimea but also
down the river of Kuban. There he bogged down in the swamps, lost his
way in the rush, met the sunrise and the sunset and enjoyed the colours
of morning dawns and sunset glows. And what is more, he brought home
his abundant game. I wish you knew how I hated processing all these
hares, ducks and other wild fowl and I had to do it three times a week.
I wish you knew how I hated all these hunting seasons, since beginning
with the second half of the August and up to the very end of the December
I with good reason could consider myself a widow! And of course I nagged
at him as all the normal women do it, and of course all those pheasants
partridges duck and hares of his, they made me not a bit happier. But
the time has come and I myself began tackling cartridges, lead shot,
primers and the powder in order to prepare sporting cartridges in accordance
with all the requirements of hunting art. And when the hunt was over
I diligently cleaned the shotgun. On such occasions I was getting ready
for the coming season with love and joy. And I knew no peace on seeing
Pyotr to every hunt session and my joy knew no limits on his arrival
home. The game didn't matter much I simply realized that hunting was
the lot of real he-men. I wasn't let even to accompany my hunter, as
there was common belief that to meet a woman when hunting was an event
of bad omen. There you're wrong…!
Luckily for me Pyotr had
a spring-gun for underwater hunting, a motorboat equipped with twin
powerful outboard motors and the fuel was cheap at that time. So we
managed to travel along the shores of the Kerch part of the Crimea,
to sail the waters of the Azov and Black seas. Luckily for us we were
given time to enjoy the feeling of freedom and vastness of our seas,
to grow fond of fishing and to experience he excitement of diving and
underwater hunting. We met together sunrises and sunsets, but Pyotr's
memory appeared to be more tenacious than mine. It helps him to transfer
to the canvass everything he feels, he loves and keeps in his memory.
And it took a long time before it dawned on me, that just these paintings
firmly tied me to my young years, not letting me lose that feeling of
being young girl and remember how old I really am. With his pictures
Pyotr has taught us not only to see the nature with his eyes but also
to love everything around us.
... Thank God my fears did not last long. It took Pyotr just two days
to restore his ability to speak and in a week more his eyesight returned
to him. Two month later my darling got down to a new painting. I do
not know what helped Pyotr to recover so quickly, may be Our Lord was
really on Pyotr's side. But probably my husband simply got scared lest
I should find I had nothing to do and began idling about. The second
guess is most likely to be the right one. However even those two first
days were quite enough for me to examine my experience and to understand
that I was eager to give an account of Pyotr's pictures. Every picture
has its own story nothing could proceed from nothing. Any of them evolves
around somebody's fate, and by some reasons unknown to me this fate
appears to be closely intertwined with our fate.
So the picture "Taara
is coming back" was painted because the long life of this sailing
craft somehow influenced our fates.
And that picturesque view
in the "Venetian fancy" was created when we had time far from
Why are there Don's motifs
in some of Pyotr's works? You see he has never been to those places.
The landscapes of the Crimea, the views of our native town of Kerch
are also present in Pyotr's paintings. I wish I could take you for a
stroll over the native town it would have been an unforgettable experience
for you! He, who happened to visit Kerch once at least, he would know
for sure that such towns as this one forever remain in one's memory.
Every stone, every hill and every terrace here radiates all the twenty-six
ages of the history of the town! Nobody knows how much I envy everybody
who is talented enough to put in writing his own thoughts and feelings.
But this gift is either given or not given at all. Evidently Our Lord
has it in store just for the elect. Considering my age it would have
been silly of me to be waiting for awakening of my talent. So I begin
my narration from the very beginning...
Stephen Hawking and the painting «A beech wood»
48 hours and a picture «The Light»