Yevgeny 'Shenia' Rukhin Pop Art from Russia
Today I talked
with Malkhaz Datukishvili on real life issues of artists in Soviet Russia and Soviet Georgia in the 60s and 70s and soon he started to talk about the motors of artistic life in that time. One of those motors and heroes was Shenia Rukhin
, who influenced many progressive (nonconformist) artists in the 70s and 80s, in the centres Leningrad and Moscow, aswell as in Tashkent, Riga, Yerevan and Tbilisi. Tbilisi and Moscow had been close in Soviet times. The first flight from Tbilisi to Moscow started at 06.10 am and the last one back around 0.10 am at night. In between had been around six or seven flights, tickets cost around 32 rubles. Quite some nostalgic talks I often hear by Georgian men, who then easily succeded to party in Moscow restaurants with their Russian counterparts or visit their Russian mistresses and beeing back "on time" late evening in Tbilisi. Bringing Georgian Cognac, Champagne or Wine helped a lot to make the right deals with Russian burocracy on the effort of Georgia, and the own pocket too.In those times
an artist could be officially an artist only by beeing a member of the Artists Union, wich gave state contracts, deals and official shows. In Soviet times there was no way to not working. Not working was interpreted as an asocial element thus an enemy of the working class and was punished by law. Also it was for the "normal" human strictly forbidden to have contacts to the few western tourists in that time. Even in 1982, in the 10 days of my first visit as a Eastgerman school kid in Moscow, it was not quite normal for average Russians to meet a German on street, even from Socialist GDR, what made us wondering about the real deepness of the "eternal friendship between the Russian and Eastgerman comrades".But Shenia Rukhin had shows in Western Europe
and in America in this time, even as a Nonconformist, as an outsider of official soviet life. This is very strange
, especially under the cultural state doctrine of the so called Socialist Realism
, even in the times of cultural spring in the era Khrushchov.
I found the memories of Ilya Levin on the events in Shenya's studio on the 24th of May 1976 wich lead to Shenya's tragical death on the website http://terraincognita.spb.ru/n8/ruhin.htm
in Russian language by Marina Unksova
and translated it with an online translation tool into English. The translation is quite good I think, allthough some mistakes may remain.The history of the loss of Yevgeny Rukhin
on 24 May, 1976, remained wrapped in the cover of secret. On that terrible night in his studio fire caught four people - himself, artists Yevgeny Yesaulenko and his wife Mila Boblyak and Ilya Levin. Today of them living is only Ilya Levin (He lives in the USA), Mila perished on the same night, Yesaulenko more lately died in the emigration.Ilya Levin recalls
: "During the day of his loss Shenya rang me in the middle of day, said that recently he arrived from Moscow and proposed to be encountered... We first went to Yesaulenko, then took him and Milu, and also some young person (we were already to thirty, and him only twenty), and went by company into the restaurant "Baku"... We talked, dined, drank together on each other just one bottle of vodka. The second one we took with ourself and left for Shenya's studio (already four together, the young person slowly it disappeared).Shenya's studio
(in the court of the Red Street, now Gallery street) had the closing door at the entrance on the first floor. On the second floor upward conducted stairs, above to the right the accomodation like the storage, filled with pictures, and to the left the corridor, sufficiently narrow, from which in a row three small rooms. The first drawing room - there stood sofa, table, regiments with the books. Second entire was filled with pictures, materials (also like the storage). And the third - strictly the studio, where Shenya worked. All windows were tightly curtained, and in the third room still they were oppressed. The walls of the old house were very thick and outside never could not be said, are there in the studio people - either united light beam, or sound did not penetrate from there. The Corridor concluded with a sink and a crane of cold water.The matter
went to the evening, when we four together arrived in the studio and settled in the first room. There we drank the bottle of vodka brought with ourselves, and Yesaulenko swichted out - and fell asleep on the sofa. But us three Shenya arranged to sleep in the last room. In the middle of the night I awoke from some strange noise. It first seemed to me that someone had entered... I arose and went into the corridor and saw fire in the accomodation to the left of the stairs. Fire and smoke. I returned to the room and yelled: "Fire!"Shenya jumped
and filled behind my back water from the crane into a bucket. This was the last, what I remember distinctly. Then - failure, then I came to me in the darkness and to smoke, but near the window of the second room. Somehow, in the semi-conscious state, for me it was possible to break window, went fresh air, I saw below in the court firemen and a ladder, put to the window. I climbed downward, where was already Yesaulenko. Me - to the firemen: Two, there remained, they must be taken out! But the firemen objected: "What there to climb, now will be brought down roof". They transported me into the hospital, proved to be cuts on the hands, burns also on the hands. Obviously, Shenya attempted me to take out downward along the stairs, but could not because of the fire. With Yevgeny Yesaulenko I, unfortunately, never had a talk about this terrible event. I do not know how he rembered that night and how he got out ".An investigation
on the outbreak of the fire was conducted, but never was any law court or whatever. It had been spoken out numerous assumptions, guesses, connected with the extremely intolerant behaviour of the authorities to the nonkonformists art. However, without the proofs, without the objective investigation of facts everything so remained at the level of assumptions. In 1969 Yevgeny Rukhin wrote: "since I am an optimists from nature, it is sure, that our works in the future will be one day widely shown in our country". This time arrived.
The original text in Russian here: http://terraincognita.spb.ru/n8/ruhin.htm
Five works from Rukhin here: http://www.nonmuseum.ru/nonconf/ruhin.htm
Moscow Museum of Modern Art (surf also other artists here
Images and text on Rukhin: http://other-art.rsuh.ru/rukhin/text.html
Memories on Shenya Rukhin (Russian) http://lib.luksian.com/textr/other/092/
Russian art historians:http://ru.wikipedia.org
has nothing yet on Yevgenyi Rukhin.
vino-shen, originally uploaded by grijsz.
Yevgeny Rukhin, 1967, Bread, meat, wine, kino
Labels: Neue Kunst