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Eduard Ziuzin, 1939. HAMPEL Fine Art Auctions Munich.
MacDougall's Fine Art Auctions
Art Collection of Zhiltsov.
A man of genius and a student of two eminent artists and one educator
I have heard of Eduard Ziuzin more than once. He was an outstanding figure among Moscow artists of the 60-s.
One day a collector Anthony Broy came to the museum in Jersey-City and brought two pictures for an expertise. One was by a famous Russian painter Pimen Orlov, who used to be a serf, but later came to live in Italy. The other was a portrait in pen on paper. The author's signature was hardly legible, but it definitely belonged to a great master.
Anthony had bought that portrait from a Russian painter living in Jersey-City and forgot his name. Alexander Gleser gave it a brief look and said: "This is Ziuzin drawing." By chance Ziuzin came to the museum himself a few days later. He looked less than his age, which is often the case with creative people. His manners and looks gave away a typical Muscovite. He was short, athletically-built, with grey beard and moustache, and bright lively eyes - a man of about 70. Every man has but one destiny, Eduard Ziuzin’s lot was more than dramatic.
Edward was born in Moscow. His family lived in apartment 3, 6/8 Miusskaya street near Tverskaya-Yamskaya. They shared the apartment house with famous composers and artists. Among their neighbors there were Dmitry Shestakovich, Khachaturyan, composer Sveshnickov.
Edward knew many artists and was on friendly terms with Anatoly Zverev. Together they used to come to the Moscow Zoo to draw animals, or take part in informal displays in Malaya Gruzinskaya street. He was also a friend of Iosif Brodsky. Edward recalls: "My mother was a student of Meyerhold, and a friend of Zinaida Raih. Raih, my mother and her sister were killed, they died of tortures in a KGB prison. After that I came to hate everything in that country.
From early childhood I liked to draw, I learned to draw wherever I could."
In general there were three persons who helped to form him as an artist. Ziuzin calls them his educators.
The first one was Georgy Kuzmich Kravchenko, professor with Saint-Petersburg Academy of Arts and a student of Repin.
The second one was Vasiliy Sitnikov who taught him modern art. This was in the 60-s. By the way, Sitnikov spent 10 years in Soviet concentration camps, which shaped his attitude towards the Soviet system. It is from Sitnikov that Ziuzin learned about such masters as Falk, Malevich, Kandinsky, Picasso, Chagall.
. Ziuzin 's third educator was Chagall.
Eduard first met Marc Chagall in 1973 in the Tretyakov Art Gallery
"Chagall was surrounded by his admirers. I was young and had the cheek to push my way through to him. I introduced myself and showed him my graphics. I was about 35, an already mature artist and very self-assured too. To everyone's displeasure, Chagall took interest in my works: "How did you do that?"
"With a ball-point pen". He was shocked: "I've never seen such skill, such a variety of styles".
"Chagall suggested we meet the next day. We talked most about technique.
I told him that his flaming color reminded me of medieval masters, Cranach, for instance. Chagall burst out laughing: "Do you know Cranach?" He said he used varnishing and glazing in his technique…
First of all Chagall appreciated my graphics. Once he said something that made me blush: "Edik, your drawings are better than mine. Your technique is incredible. You are a mad artist in the best sense of the word. Perhaps, you are a genius. I'd put you in a golden cage and give you everything so that you could work."
Soon I received a letter from Marc Zakharovich, in which he suggested my taking part in a big exhibition in Tokyo, where he would have a display himself. Six of my works were chosen for the exhibition." In 1980 Ziuzin's work hang next to Mark Chagall's at the exhibition in Tokyo. I'm now looking through the aged pages of a catalogue that Edward has kept.
However Chagall's golden cage turned into a prison for Edward.
"Chagall sent me an invitation to Paris. After he suggested that I should move to Paris, living and working in Moscow became unbearable for me.
There were many provocations, I could see no end of them, they used to break into my apartment, destroy my pictures, my letters, and they even tried to kill me. Later on I was arrested. All in all I spent about 5 years in prison: Butyrskaya prison, Matrosskaya Tishina, Troitsko-Antropovo in the suburbs of Moscow, then I had to undergo a mandatory course of treatment, then Hospital 5 when you don't want it but they give you injections.
Keepers hold you and make injections. The only thing that made me live was art. I survived because I could draw.
A series of prison portraits in oil colors, drawings in pencil and in pen strike by their expressiveness. These are the portraits of jail mates - murderers, swindlers, robbers and simple thieves.
Edward has been living in Jersey-City for 16 years now.
We meet in the museum. Eduard stops at a picture by Sergey Pchelintsev with a fantastic view: night, seashore, the storm has brought down a statue and has cast ashore a fantastic fish, a huge fairytale butterfly, a broken orchid, falling stars sparkle in the dark sky, the scale and even water are painted with great love.
"This is a real artist", Eduard says examining the picture.
"his pictures dazzle like poems about faraway planets."
Eduard expressively reads his poem about planet Kuno, we are listening spellbound, they are as genius as his pictures.