Evgeniy Stasenko, artist : biography, paintings, texts from booklets and so on...
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    The late twentieth century...
    Twenty years have not gone for nothing
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    To allow it to be...
    La nouvelle Asie
    Two faces of buddhistic Moscow
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    • Sergey Safonov
    • Evgeniy Stasenko
    • Konstantin Sutyagin
    • Alexander Shevchenko
    Gallery "Expo-88"
    April 24 - May 8, 2009

    What kind of talk may occur in time of preparation to the nostalgic - in fact, retrospective - exhibition with a such optimistic title among its members? Of course, nostalgic - but, after all, optimistic.
    Sergey Safonov: In a leap and, in addition, beginning in Friday, 1988 year, population of Earth was five billion people. In that year, was first launched on a Soviet spacecraft «Buran», died poet and musician Alexander Bashlachev and Russian philosopher Alexey Losev, Armenian Spitak earthquake broke out, in Moscow adopted a law amending and supplementing the Constitution of the USSR, Kharkov «Metalist» won in the finals USSR Cup in football, and was issued a Nina Andreeva's letter «I can't give up my principles». In addition, the United States conducted a military operation against Iran, George W. Bush senior became U.S. President, and in the last days of December, in the Moscow subway were opened the «Tsvetnoy Boulevard», «Mendeleevskaya» and «Savelovskaya» stations.
    Konstantin Sutyagin: And in the same 1988 was opened «Expo-88» gallery. Then they opened a lot, it seemed, Moscow is turning into Paris late XIX century - with a lot of galleries, «independents», etc. Ten years have passed, and most of the galleries closed, but the «Expo-88», which we had long ago accidentally found and where we had the first exhibition, continues to exist.
    Sergey Safonov: Yes, but all these little related to each other events are likely not directly affect the subsequent creative ways of the participants of the present exhibition. And the date of reference, in truth, is a rather conventionally chosen: the eighty-eighth - not the thirteenth, or the forty-fifth or sixty-first, which opened the road into outer space for humanity. It is impossible to know precisely the exact day and time when a man started to feel himself as an artist. And twenty years, strictly speaking, is not generally accepted as a round date. Is it only to the amount of creative experience of each of the four participants of the exhibition to add the age of the place where it was - then get about a century. In addition, because of the everybody's sabotage, exhibition crawled to the next year, not very much related to anything...
    Konstantin Sutyagin: Still, even in the simple enumeration of facts of human scale there is a sense. List of events against which we have lived for the past twenty years, it brings together the views and, above all, taste. Here we have this, while others will have another «list of ships», and this will be another generation. With age you begin to appreciate the day. While young, it seems that everything is relative, that ten or twenty years - conditional. And when you spent years devoted for some reason to a painting, you know that it is not conditional. Conditionality - this is a maximum of two to three days.
    Evgeniy Stasenko: Now, looking back on twenty years ago, I feel myself like a mammoth, which inadvertently wasn't died out. Passed even not the era - several eras, with their signs, with people who either have disappeared, or have changed.
    From 1988 I recollect pies with raisins produced by co-operative company «Gourmet» at Kurskiy station, co-operative stands, where it was possible to buy a repainted Soviet shirt with a fake logo of Philip Morris or Amaretto di Sarono put on it.
    Western goods have not yet appeared, but it was evident desire to them. Cooperators came to the unthinkable: they sewed shoes! Most of these shoes were something like slippers decorated with a leather fringe on top.
    It was a time of flourishing artistic, poetic and musical life on the Arbat street. I myself was earning money drawing portraits there.
    And while I labored over the face of another victim, next to me thundered some «actual» and «socially critical» poet: «We saw honestly and straight both the sides of barricades: one side Ivanov and Gdlyan, on the other - Gorbachev and Lukyanov and obedient to them Party apparatus!». Who now remembers Telman Gdlyan? Foreigners walked on Arbat quite easily, and the U.S. Dollars were becoming more and more part of the turnover, the artisans from Arbat were gladly taking them, though still with precautions.
    In 1988, I went the first time with my friends to Koktebel. There, in the evenings, I drew portraits on the embankment near 'Pisdom' (writer's House), that allowed not to deny the little pleasures of life in the day and close to the night. The little pleasures of life were located in the coffee house (coffee on the sand!), in the tea house near to the 'Pisdom', in the Garadah restaurant and several other places of the communal worship.
    The first visit to Voloshin's home, march to the Tikhaya bay ford under rocks, and the sun and sea ... Almost every night took place somebody's birthday, celebrated in the courtyard of the host's house (the big boarding houses we didn't endure - just the private sector). Songs with a guitar, drinking a toasts to the most beautiful suburb of Moscow - Koktebel...
    And in Moscow began to move art commerce. I sold the bulk of seven or eight paintings to the one gallery owner, and it was money, which I hadn't keep in the hands before. There were a cheerful fantasies about success. I remember, we with friends were even going to open art shop of our own! Scheme foiled by prosaic reason: one of us all could count.
    Alexander Shevchenko: I used to think that my life is interesting, but ask me now about last twenty years of my life - there is nothing to remember. About every day I go to the studio, sometimes go out for the sketches, do two or three exhibitions per year. Occasionally I visit Paris on the case... The normal working rhythm of a Russian officer. But any significant events that have impacted my life, I can hardly recollect. I remember myself sitting, sticking to the TV-set «Rubin», - «Prozhektor Perestroiki», «Vzglyad». Read out to the holes magazin «Ogonek». I get nervous.
    Coupons for the vodka, coupons for tobacco, queue for the grocery, queue for the beer. Roll-coll in the queue at the British Embassy and numbers written on the hand in a queue at the currency exchange. My head is going round of new opportunities. I'm in doubt. Nerves are stretched. Tanks on the streets... Vouchers, inflation, «600 seconds», constantly sticky fingers from the melted ice cream (small business), easy money. Life as on a needles. Frustration.
    Once I tried with a friend to sell the sugar by box-cars. But something went wrong, some hitch turned out, someone pressed us out of this business. And those who remain, almost all of them fairly soon were killed. Because of a nervous strain the eyelid started to twitch. Again the tanks on the streets...
    I remember how everyone in the studio at Baumanskaya sat down on the floor, for fear of mad bullets, hearing a car going without a car muffler, and somebody even turned off the light of caution.
    Nerves gave out. Drunken Yeltsin conducts the orchestra... Computers, pagers, cellular phones, bankers, collectors. EU. Range of possibilities were expanding. Doubts were intensifying. Default... We organized an exhibition "Ten years have gone for nothing". I threw out the TV set, refused on the radio and newspapers. Gave up my small business. My nerve cells became gradually recover, doubts gone. Life became a regular track. Now I go every day in the studio, sometimes go out for the sketches, do two or three exhibitions per year. Occasionally I visit Paris on the case...
    Konstantin Sutyagin: When it all began - twenty years ago - painting, drawing pictures seemed very funny, ridiculous business... Another case - to open Bank «Menatep» or «Imperial»! And «MMM» - does anyone remember? These seemed were names that had to be for centuries, but passed twenty years, and who remembers today Lenya Golubkov? It turned out that the painting is more reliable than selling the stocks and shares. It's amazing. Even the program «Buran» closed but we all still paint and paint the pictures.
    It is difficult to imagine today (I hardly believe myself), but not so long ago I painted a red chocolate factory from the Krymskyi bridge, and in the landscape didn't stand the monument to Peter the Great. Or rather, a few years ago I painted Red Square, and in the background there was a hotel «Russia»... Completely another era of landscape painting begun in the last twenty years.
    Sergey Safonov: Yes, but the formal pretext for the exhibition is not strong. Authors only excuse is the long-standing friendship (not always the same length), the mutual affection and willingness to continue to work with paints - in spite of the audible reasoning that this archaic activity was relevant in the last century. Half-way back the current exponents and now living in America Vadim Stain had arranged an exhibition defeatist titled «Ten years have gone for nothing» (in basement next to Baumanskaya st. where from were subsequently expelled).
    Since then their perception and, most importantly, self-esteem somewhat changed. «Who could believe that the adult guys, inveterate on the field of fine arts, survivors of two crisis, afraid of the third and once again doubted the correctness of the chosen path?! - indignantly exclaimed, in the depths of the Internet well-known Moscow painter Alexander Shevchenko - Wouldn't it better to approve our positions, adding to the title the particle «no»?» And it must be said, of his vital confidence in the future the rest of the participants of concession cheered up. Maybe is it the truth - twenty years have not gone for nothing?
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