Art

This collection hosts videos of art exhibitions and interviews with Kalmyk and Russian artists who talk about their work, lives and Kalmyk art.

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  • ItemOpen Access
    Vladimir Badmaev, an interview
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-09-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumova, Elvira
  • ItemOpen Access
    Timur Tsonkhlaev, an interview
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-09-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Sandzhiev, Artur
  • ItemOpen Access
    Dmitry Sandjiev, An interview
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-01) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Terbish, Baasanjav
  • ItemOpen Access
    An Art Exhibition in Elista
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2019-04-22) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Korneev, Gennadiy; Koldaev, Tseren
    This video features an art exhibition held in Elista in May 2018. Artists who are interviewed include Alexandr Povaev, Mergen Moshuldaev, Syugir Buluktaev, and Tsebek Aduchiev whose works are displayed in the hall.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Viktor Urgadulov, An Interview
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-04-08) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Terbish, Baasanjav; Khoyt, Gilyana; Churyumov, Anton
    In this interview Viktor Urgadulov, a Kalmyk artist, talks about himself, art in the Soviet Union and its current state in Kalmykia. Viktor was born in the village of Pavlovskoe in Altaiskiy krai, near the city of Barnaul. His childhood was ordinary. His mother was a medic and the whole family lived in a medical centre. Viktor’s father was an officer in the army. In his youth his father was not exiled along with other Kalmyks but came to Altaiskiy krai looking for his brother where he met his future wife. Viktor liked drawing pictures from his childhood. When the Kalmyks returned to Kalmykia from Siberia, there was not a single art club in Elista. Viktor’s mother’s second cousin who was an architect advised Viktor to keep drawing and choose a profession of either an artist or architect. Viktor’s father, however, was against this and wanted his son to be a tractor driver. When Viktor was 16, the Penza Art School was receiving applications to study. With his two Kalmyk friends who were older than him by 8 years and with 40 rubles in his pocket, Viktor went to Penza. All three friends were accepted to the Art School. In the beginning, they all lived in a barn nearby. Later Viktor moved out and rented a room in a private house where he helped his landlords with chores, including cutting wood and planting potatoes. Afterwards he found a room in a dormitory. The Penza Art School was one of the best in the Soviet Union. Viktor and his friends studied well. After the Art School, Viktor entered the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow since it was considered to be prestigious to have a higher education. Well trained at his previous school, Viktor found his studies easy. After he finished the Institute, Viktor was called back to Kalmykia to work as an artist. He had his first art exhibition in 1974 in the town of Gorkiy. It went well and Pravda newspaper published an article about the exhibition. Viktor became a member of the Kalmyk Union of Artists in 1975. There were eight members in the Union all in all, including Rokchinskiy, Povaev, Oldaev, Khakhulin, Badmaev and others, who all had good salaries. As art developed in the Soviet Union, artists were expected to hold exhibitions and work hard. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, state support for art stopped, which forced many Kalmyk artists either to move to big Russian cities or leave the country altogether. According to Viktor, today in Kalmykia there are only four elderly artists left and the young artists need to work hard to earn living. Viktor says that art is like a fashion and that artists need to follow it. Viktor comes to his workshop almost every day. Recently he had his personal exhibition in the South Federal District. He had to pay for all the recurring fees himself. He says that the state should build workshops and support artists. In Elista, he laments, there is no museum of art. In the past local museums bought artworks, which was helpful for the artists. In the past they were encouraged to do drawings with an ideological bias that depicted workers and shepherds. According to Viktor, there is no such thing as Kalmyk traditional art. In order to produce a painting with a historical theme, one needs to sit in archives.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Tsebek Aduchiev, An Interview
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-03-31) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumova, Elvira; Koldaev, Tseren; Korneev, Gennadiy; Churyumov, Anton
    Tsebek talks about himself. I say I was born in the spring of 1937, although I do not know the exact year of my birth. In 1956, I received a passport, saying that I was 16 years old. In the archives there is no data available on me, although when I retired they found a book where it was written that I was born in 1937. Since my father, Aduch Manzh, was an orphan, I do not know which clan I belong to. My mother, Budaeva Kooku Budaevna, was from a large family. My father was the brigadier of a fishing artel (Soviet cooperative). He took children from poor families with him on fishing trips in the Caspian Sea that lasted for a month at a time. One day an old man came up to me and said, ‘Are you Aduch Manzh’s son? I recognized you, you look like your father.’ Being grateful to my father for what he had done for him, that old man was just happy that he met a person related to Aduch Manzh. In 1943, when we were exiled to Siberia, I remember that our train was passing over a new bridge in order to examine its worthiness. They took pity on cattle and freight, but not Kalmyks. With us in the barracks in the Krasnoyarsk region lived an elderly woman. She used to stand by the stove in the corridor, and everyone who passed by her gave her something to eat – bread, some potatoes. Later we learned that she was the widow of Marshal Tukhachevskiy. One winter I went out into the street and was frightened. I saw a mountain of corpses in the hut. The earth was frozen, and it was impossible to bury the dead. I ran back home. After the war two of my mother’s brothers returned, both wounded and both with medals. They first stayed with us, but later when they were allowed to relocate as former front-line soldiers they went to the Tyumen region to look for their brides. From there they sent a telegram to us, and we set out on a journey to Tyumen. First we reached Novosibirsk where we waited for the train. Since the train was delayed, we stayed in the train station which was crowded. When the train arrived, my father showed the conductor his tickets. The conductor looked at the tickets, tossed them on the floor and kicked my father in the chest saying: ‘Go away, your tickets are fake!’ My father was illiterate and did not know that the cashier had deceived him by selling expired tickets. The cashier was nowhere to be found, and so we stayed at the station near the public toilet. When we ran out of food my mother sold bed linen and clothes to buy bread. One day my father found a big fat purse with money and a passport inside it and brought the purse to my mother who cried. She said to my father: ‘Return the passport and the money to whom it belongs’. On the second day of his search my father found the woman whose photo was on the passport. In tears, the woman thanked my parents and gave us a bucket of potatoes, which we ate for 2 days. A few days later, a military patrol who was checking on the station detained us and transported us to the Kemerovo region. My parents spoke little Russian. As I only went to the first class, I did not speak Russian well. I remember being hungry all the time. We were settled in a barrack. In the beginning people were afraid of us. Later some brought frozen potatoes and bread. We ate frozen potato skin. After 4 years in school, in 1952 we finally moved to the Tyumen region. By that time many in my family had died, and I was left with my mother and a brother. My mother had tuberculosis, and I had been sent to a children’s hospital with open-type tuberculosis. The hospital did not even have penicillin. Later, when I was 18, I realized that I was behind in education, and decided to go to an evening school for working youth. Because of poor health, I hardly finished 7 classes. My legs ached, I felt cold. After passing all my exams successfully I entered the Tyumen Machine-Building Technical School. The competition was fierce, and there were 18 applicants for each place. As a member of the Komsomol, in the summer I was sent along with other students to stack pipes in a factory where I was nearly killed. The prisoners who were supposed to be carrying pipes were sitting doing nothing. I told them that they should carry a pipe to a place. Suddenly, a pipe hit my head from behind. At night the watchman found me and brought me to consciousness with alcohol. The next day, all the prisoners came to me to apologize, falling on their knees. They said that they had thought that I was a worker. They did not know that I was representing the chief engineer and reporting on the work. Had I complained, they would all have been sent back to prison. While studying at the technical school, I loved drawing, and even taught drawing there. In Tyumen, I lived in a factory, in a shed next to where prisoners lived. Later I was given a separate room. At the factory I restored an old, decommissioned machine, as there were no specialists around. I over-fulfilled the plan, and was invited by the director of the factory to live with him. He also asked me whether I wanted to work at a trust, which controlled all the factories in the vicinity. He also offered me a large salary, an apartment and an official car. Back then I was closed and not talkative. I told the director that I wanted to learn how to draw. In a museum in Tyumen I first saw a graphic drawing and told him about it. The director decided to help me and advised me that first I should get an apartment and then exchange it for another one where I wanted to live. Then I fell ill. I was taken to a hospital in Sverdlovsk. In Tyumen I had a friend, who offered me to go to the dacha of his uncle in Moscow, who turned out to be President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Mstislav Keldysh. In 1961 the Caribbean crisis erupted. Students in technical colleges and technical schools were sent to military units. I was also assigned to study at the Omsk Higher Military School, but my friend Sasha Radin, nephew of Keldysh, intervened and I was allowed to continue my education.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Svetlana Batyreva, The Life and Work of Garya Rokchinskiy
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-09-03) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumova, Elvira; Sandzhiev, Artur; Korneev, Gennadiy; Bembeev, Aleksandr
    Svetlana talks about her father, the famous Kalmyk artist Garya Rokchinskiy. In 1939 my father participated in a contest of Pushkin’s drawings which he won. The prize was a bicycle, which was so rare at that time that all the boys in the vicinity ran after him. This was also a time when Kalmyk autonomy was established, which was to be followed by exile and post-exile periods. After exile, when Kalmyk ASSR was restored, my father returned to Kalmykia. By 1961 my father was a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR, had done a solo exhibition in Alma-Ata and participated in exhibitions in Moscow. By that time he was already well known in Kazakhstan where he had graduated from an art school with honors. Because of his status as an exiled person, he was denied a diploma with distinction. During the war many art institutes in Moscow and St. Petersburg were relocated along with teaching staff to other parts of the USSR, including Kazakhstan. Many of my father’s professors, who were from Moscow and St Petersburg, acknowledged his talent. In Kazakhstan my father honed his skills. There he went on trips to the mountains. There he found his style, which is close to impressionism, with his extraordinary color vision and the ability to convey colors in strokes. When he said that he wanted to return to Kalmykia, in Kazakhstan they did not want to let him go. My father had a wish to see Kalmykia restored. There were many problems then as there are today with the Kalmyk language, which is the consequence of exile. In Kalmykia they had a task to create fine arts, and my father became the founder of modern Kalmyk art. He has a painting titled ‘Mother – my native land’, which he dedicated to his grandmother who lived 95 years and accepted Buddhist vows (she did not eat meat, didn’t lie, prayed). He did not invent anything, but depicted his grandmother as she was. In the painting she is an elderly Kalmyk woman with an uncovered head, walking, dressed in a Kalmyk dress, holds a rosary in her right hand. She emanates strength, will, but at the same time, femininity and signs of a hard life. She survived war and exile. There is also a lot of sunlight in the picture and a sense of harmony between a human being and nature. She represents an archaic vertical of the world tree. The axis of the world is found in this image. There are no representations of suffering in the picture, but simply an elderly Kalmyk woman walking through her native land. We see a figurative embodiment of one’s homeland in this painting. As an artist my father took a lot of inspiration from life. He even had his own vocabulary. One winter was exceptionally cold and as a result many animals died. He said: ‘Such a cold and frost, and the lambs are crying.’ He had a childlike worldview, he saw everything in his own way. My father lived in his own world, in which he felt, created and left his paintings. All of his paintings are devoted to his native land. Driven by his wish to find his identity, he always turned to Dzungaria topic. Before his departure, he used to say, ‘What will become of us?’ I was young then and did not understand what he was talking about, but now I have realized that he was talking about us, the Kalmyks. My father had a desire to restore what had been lost. He knew all Kalmyk traditions well, spoke the Kalmyk language, danced and sang. Once he brought from Ulan-Bator a tape recording of a contest of singers and storytellers of Altai who performed the praise to the Altai Mountain. When he listened to that recording of throat singing, he cried, he felt the power of the ancestral land and our tradition. In his painting of Zaya Pandita one can see the fate of the Kalmyks, a unique people, who had their own script, language, art, dances, costumes. For my father Zaya Pandita represented all these. There is Zaya Pandita’s image, cast in silver in Ulan Bator. My father came up with that image in which he combined two periods of our history - Oirat and Kalmyk. Another painting of my father depicts Eelyan Ovla, a Jangar singer. This picture was an event, according to Soviet art critics. In a state of inspiration and singing, Eelyan Ovla is depicted in the background of the country of Bumba. My father worked on this image for 10 years. The works of Rokchinskiy show his path from realism to abstractionism. There is also a lotus series, which is the result of his trip to the Astrakhan conservation area. By means of the lotus flower the artist engages in thinking about life itself. In the painting, in the foreground there is a white lotus, at the bottom is a lotus bud which is starting to unfold, in the background - a lotus box with seeds. This reflects the philosophy of Buddhism, including the beginning of life, flowering time and departure.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Mergen Kavaldanov, About My Work
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-09-11) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumova, Elvira; Koldaev, Tseren; Korneev, Gennadiy; Churyumov, Anton
    Mergen makes whistles from clay in the form of animals, such as a horse, a wolf and a lamb. Recently he has been making camel-whistles, and to associate them with the Kalmyk steppe, he makes his whistles produce a wind-like, low sound. He says he uses a Spanish technique for making whistles. While small whistles have a higher pitched sound, larger whistles tend to produce a thicker sound. Mergen also makes rattles, a kettle and other art objects. Mergen shows the figure of a wolf, dyed in blue, which symbolizes that the wolf is a sky-animal. Another object that he shows is a whistle that takes half an hour to make. A camel-whistle, by contrast, takes 4.5 hours to produce.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Mergen Kavaldanov, About Art in Kalmykia Today
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-09-11) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumova, Elvira; Koldaev, Tseren; Korneev, Gennadiy; Churyumov, Anton
    Mergen says that the state today does not support artists in Kalmykia. Modern Kalmyk art is in a difficult situation. Since leadership does not support art, artists leave Kalmykia where it is very difficult to make a career. Mergen says that all Kalmyks should clear their heads and improve the local economy. Without state support, artists will not be able to exist and art will perish.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Galina and Sergei Kotinov, Art Exhibition
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-03-31) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumov, Anton
    Galina and Sergei Kotinovs are Kalmyk artists who live and work in St Petersburg. The photos in this video were taken at their art exhibition called ‘From the city to the steppe and back’ held in Moscow in September 2016.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Exhibition of Handicrafts
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-27) Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumova, Elvira; Terbish, Baasanjav; Churyumov, Anton
    This video features an exhibition of traditional handicrafts held at the National Museum in Elista in April 2015.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Aleksandr Koshevoi, art works
    (2016-03-09) Kovaeva, Bair; Churyumov, Anton; Kovaeva, Bair; Churyumov, Anton
    Aleksandr displays three pieces of art that he produced. The first piece is an engraving of a camel and a nomad that he calls 'Loyalty to the steppe. The Iki Chonos or the Big Wolves'. According to him, the Iki Chonos clan lived in the territory of the villages of Krasnomikhailovskoe and Matrosovo in Yashaltinsky rayon. The wolf is the totem of this clan. This work is richly embellished with various objects – including a bell, the tamga (stamp) of the Iki-Chos clan, the moon, a depiction of hills in the steppe, a tokug (an ornament used in women's hair) etc. – that represent, according to Aleksandr, the essence of human beings. The second piece is called 'A tale about the past'. It consists of the following parts: the traditional musical instrument dombra, a spear, a trident and four arrows (representing the Union of four Oirats). In the background are Kalmyk warriors and the Daichin Tengri who is the protector of all Kalmyk warriors. All these objects pertain to the past of the Kalmyks. The dombra can be seen as an instrument 'telling' about this past. The third work of art is called 'The dragon'. The dragon is a symbol of power. This work has been given to the famous Kalmyk kickboxer Batu Khasikov as a present. In total, Aleksandr has produced more than 200 works of art.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Sergei Kotinov, autobiography
    (2016-10-12) Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumov, Anton; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumov, Anton
    Sergei is an artist. He was born in Elista but moved to Leningradskaya oblast’ in 2009 where now he runs an art studio, Red Star, with his wife Galina. Sergei’s parents are from the village of Aktyubeevka in Astrakhan oblast’. Sergei’s father was also good at drawing, although he did not have a formal art education. In 1957 the family returned from Sakhalin to Elista where Sergei was born. After finishing art school in 1984, Sergei worked as an artistic editor at the Kalmyk Printing House for more than 10 years. He worked with many Kalmyk writers, including Oleg Mandzhiev, Egor Budzhalov and others. In 2004 he was appointed chief painter in the Kalmyk Drama Theatre where he helped stage four plays, including ‘Temudzhin, my best friend’, ‘Nyudlya – a farewell confession of love’, ‘The blue bird’, and ‘The servant to two lords’. Sergei characterizes his painting style as European ‘naïve lyric expressionism’. His wife Galina, in contrast, paints in an ethnic style. A series of her paintings titled ‘The soul of the Mongolian warrior’ was very successful. Sergei finds artistic inspiration in his family and the city of St Petersburg. He tries to finish any painting in one go. Before embarking on a new painting, he talks to people, makes observations and ponders. In his art studios Sergei teaches children how to illustrate fairy tales. His students are encouraged to read books and use their imagination in their drawings. According to Sergei, Garri Rokchinskiy was a classical Kalmyk artist. Since development in any country is impossible without developing and supporting art, Kalmyk artists need state support. Sergei heard many stories from his father. One story: In their clan there was a woman who was the most powerful wrestler in the region. One day a famous male wrestler from another region came to compete with her. After beating her guest, the female wrestler exposed her gender. Out of shame (that he was beaten by a woman), the guest wrestler committed suicide. Another story: When he was a boy, Sergei’s grandfather witnessed snakes protecting the Khosheutovskiy Temple. When the Bolsheviks set out to destroy the temple, they encountered all sorts of natural and supernatural impediments. The relics on the roof were removed with great human loss, since whoever climbed up the roof fell to the ground and died. When the disassembled parts of the temple were finally put on the barge to be transported down to Astrakhan’, the wind blew with such force that the barge swayed right and left. At the end of the interview Sergei shows a series of his paintings titled ‘The yellow taxi’. The paintings depict a colorful fusion of people, St Petersburg, flowers and cars.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Galina Kotinova, Kalmyk Paintings and Ornaments
    (2016-10-12) Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumov, Anton; Churyumova, Elvira; Churyumov, Anton
    After graduating from the Stroganov Moscow State University of arts and Industry, Galina and her husband Sergei moved to Kalmykia where they spent 15 years. There Galina produced paintings about Kalmyk history, culture, Buddhism and people. She also worked on several theatrical performances as a stage designer. Today she and her husband work in their own studio in St Petersburg. Galina finds the Kalmyk and Mongolian facial features very interesting. In her paintings she shows traditional ornaments, hats, dress, etc. Her works have been exhibited both in Russia and abroad. Galina’s works are expressionist and are painted as fantasies. She also paints flowers, landscapes and the city of St Petersburg. During the interview Galina shows a book titled The Kalmyk Traditional Ornaments by Grigoriy Vas’kin where she painted all the ornaments. Kalmyk ornaments, Galina says, can be floral, geometrical, zoomorphic, cultic, astral and alphabetic in form. Geometrical ornaments are used in women’s dress, the most widespread among them is the hoof of a foal. In contrast, men’s dress is decorated with floral ornaments. In Kalmykia, ornaments are used on wooden cups, tobacco pipes, and bortkha (a vessel to keep alcohol or milk products). Astral ornaments are used on leather goods, hats, on goods made from felt and on tables. In terms of color ornaments are made from bright colorful threads.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Interview with Alexandr Povaev
    (2016-08-15) Kovaeva, Bair; Churyumov, Anton; Terbish, Baasanjav
    Alexandr was born in 1948 in the village of Podsosnovoe in Altaiskiy krai. Upon their return from Siberia the family settled in the village of Shin-Mer. In the beginning they lived in a dugout but later built a house. Alexandr’s grandfather was a saddler and made various implements (saddles, straps, etc.) from leather. After finishing Rostov art School, Alexandr worked in Shin-Mer for a year and moved to Elista on the recommendation of the Kalmyk artist Garri Rokchinskiy who saw Alexandr’s paintings when he was visiting the village. Alexandr held his first exhibition in 1975 which was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the victory in World War II. In 1977, he became a member of the Union of artists. In the 1970s the overarching theme of his paintings were the family and kinship. ‘The family’ and ‘Self-portrait with Vera’ are two of his paintings from this series. Alexandr says that in the Soviet period not every topic was permitted and that artists usually painted families, workers, etc. In the 1980s Alexandr visited Mongolia along with two other Kalmyk painters, Urgadulov and Kikeev. In Mongolia Alexandr witnessed Oriental art and decided to himself that this style was close to his heart. The trip was a turning point in Alexandr’s artistic life in that he started doing Oriental paintings. Upon their return, the Kalmyk painters organized exhibitions in Kalmykia and Moscow. Alexandr paints nature and portraits. Inspiration comes to him from many sources. He has more than 1,000 paintings to his name. He did his first portrait of Chingis Khan in 1993. Since then he has produced more than 10 works on this topic. He also painted the Kalmyk Ayuka Khan during whose time the Kalmyk Khanate reached its zenith. The paintings that Alexandr shows are as follows: Mao Zedong depicted in the background of the Buddha of Longevity. A painting called ‘The three jewels’ depicting the Buddha, Sangha and Dharma. A painting called ‘Yin and Yang’. A painting called ‘A woman is resting in the steppe’. ‘A meeting’, ‘Horses’, and ‘The Amazons, warrior women’ are other paintings of his. Alexandr contends that every person sees and interprets his paintings in their own ways. He also says that he often uses the Oirat script in his paintings.