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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ernst Neizvestny: I’ve never compromised

…Ten years ago we met Ernst Neizvestny in the lobby of the hotel “national”.

— Let me get you a glass of brandy? Allow me to do it.

In this phrase all the. Master, monster, fighter, soldier, a Jew… Here he died, and to call “for comments” nobody wants. Sickening. All far from his age. The ocean. It’s like die Leo Tolstoy, but we will ask of him tabloid romanistik. Sculpture as a genre in Russia murdered.

But my interview with Ernst there, and I would like to recall some of the nerve. Man, who knew a lot about black and white.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

About the names

The acuity on the subject of names I was not that insulted, but seem vulgar: “Known Unknowns” in the headlines… It’s like my childhood, I remember the little teaser: “And now extracted the square root of… the Unknown!” And all the “ha ha”.

* * *

About ancestors

— Dad was a white officer, served as Antonov. So after the revolution, and a smaller shot. So he changed ends with “Neizvestnaja” to “Unknown”. Neizvestnoy ancient Siberian name, usually belonged to the bandits who escaped from prison, convicts, fugitives, joined Yaik Cossacks. In Chelyabinsk, sort of, dug up my ancestors for many years back, but… it is very possible that my grandparents got out of cantonments. Baptized children seven to eight years from Jewish families and giving ridiculous names — Bezprozvanny, Forgetful, Neizvestnoy…

* * *

About the war (participated in world war II)

— The war has passed like a surreal vision, and orderly to tell about it. Viktor Nekrasov wrote about trench warfare; I found the offensive war, therefore, to describe a team or individual characters is not possible: people died faster than you learned their names. Don’t like those memories, but in my account 16 killed by the Nazis in the purification of the… I did not kill with a knife or bayonet; grenade machine. Fight face to face.

And I buried prematurely. This whole story still seems implausible; I was very seriously injured. Besides — shock. Was in a cast. I have recorded clinical death. The doctor did a bypass, followed by bureaucracy and put a “tick”. Died. The orderlies brought the body to the stairs leading to the morgue. But decided not to go down, just picked up and dumped. Plaster burst. I woke up from the pain and screamed. But I was resuscitated. But the obituary had already left. And soon… my mother received a death notice. And the Pope at that time was a military doctor, he requested through his connections in the military, they say, check back. Well… the second death notice. Then my father buried me. And my mom didn’t believe. That’s what the maternal instinct. Was waiting for me.

* * *

About the collapse of the Soviet Union

— The collapse of the Soviet Empire, I took it as a personal tragedy. Because neither my friend Merab Mamardashvili, neither the government nor the meeting could not be considered “residents of a foreign state”. Yeah, I was a stranger to the utopianism of Communist ideology that led to human victims. Therefore, when there is a simple black and white choice, “Yeltsin or the Communists,” to understand anything and didn’t have to. The choice was made independently from estimates of the individual and programs, which I didn’t: at least not to shed blood…

But I am not a “Pavlov dog”, which is cliche, especially political, to a point. I don’t have to convince “the advantages of one system over another”. History shows that it was a very good authoritarian education (de Gaulle, Adenauer) and incredibly fake parliamentary Republic; monarchy adorable and disgusting democracy…

I am a former officer. And this is forever. And I’m inclined to give preference to a particular and strong-willed decisions. It got into the blood. It is tied with my essence muralist, for a monumental sculpture — it is Imperial.

* * *

About your place in art

— Let’s say I classic. I’ve published six books, and in Russia, alas, they went out. Fortunately, different interpretations of art historians don’t give me the opportunity to get into a household classification consumer. And other only important to know who you are — impressionist or expressionist. Carrion. I couldn’t adapt, because the very form of existence in any group does not suit me. And thus I became the outsider. Moreover, the absolute. This is a disadvantage because I’m lonely. And it hits the pocket, because all the exhibitions are arranged on the basis of belonging to groups. Op-art? Pop art? No. I — Ernst Neizvestny. Such a group is not. Although imitators are a dime a dozen.

My friend Henry Moore wrote that “hole gives a sense of three-dimensionality, even if we are not around”. “What’s your idea?” “he asked me. I replied in a letter: “I Have a hole in sculpture because I have a hole in the body. No ribs after the injury. And he absolutely brilliantly defined: “it Means that I’m classic, and you — romantic”.

* * *

About the monument to Khrushchev

— Relatives of Khrushchev visited me, but do not recommend it, mindful of the Treaty. Hands break out is the official court… something they are alarmed. It was allocated very little money: just a plate with the inscription… And the family decided to make a headstone. But officialsin didn’t want me. Posokhin and his Deputy began to brawl, protest, and the monument is already ready… Then I told them the following: “I understand that, if “top” was banned, you would just say “no”, referring to “top”. And since you like tricksters, all the time shuffle the cards, any fee is prescribed, you a direct order not to and you are just being overly cautious. Because you’re afraid!” They said, “Yes.”

I did very strongly, even a little bit blackmailing… Said to them: “If you guys courtiers, so go and ask permission.” They say, “We are powerless. “Up” can’t go”. Then Nina Petrovna, Khrushchev’s wife, took my picture and she went to Kosygin — the second man after Brezhnev. It took 10 minutes. Kosygin looked: “what am I going to decide? Family like that?” — “We love”. He took it and signed… all architectural rulers of the city danced with joy, they were more happy than me…

* * *

About the ending of the life

Now I feel like the energy goes inside. I left the idea of expansion. When I was a kid, like the Ural mountains to turn into sculptures. Remember this imagine: a mountain seen a Centaur, the other with a huge face of a woman, in whose hands grow real Christmas trees… as a child, so naturally the desire to gigantism, because every child is Gulliver, as well as the artist. And now…

In England, long in Vogue of the so-called ecological funeral. Man buried in his place to plant a rose Bush or an oak tree. The idea is beautiful, and to me it is closest. Dissolution in the oceans. Maybe I wish I was buried as well. Or scattered the ashes to the wind. I have no solution. It would later be inscribed in my will.

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