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.
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.