“Storm” in Аlbuquerque

June 25, 2022

I continue telling you about pastel exhibitions and paintings.

From the 21st to the 26th of June the 14th Pastel Convention, organized by IAPS – International Association of Pastel Societies, took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is a gathering of international artists who come to teach, learn and communicate.

During the convention, the 2022 IAPS Pastel World Exhibition was held. It was divided into two parts: the 40th Open Division Juried Exhibition and the 8th Master Circle Division. My painting “Little Storm” took part in the second one.

Small Storm. 40х40 cm. 2022 Pastel, charcoal on paper

The mood at the beginning of February was nervous and complicated, as if it was necessary to break through some feeling of closing doors. While I was preparing a trip to the convention, I flew twice to Yerevan for a vaccination that allowed me to enter the USA, calculated the deadlines for my visa application in Warsaw, and received an invitation for an interview in the embassy for the 24th of March. I did not know then that on the 24th of March we would live in a completely different world, and Poland, like many other countries, would seem like a different planet. But on the 13th of February, when I was painting my “Storm”, I did not know that.

The story of a stormy sky persistently asked for paper. A combination of colors and a sense of volume caught my attention: gray masses of clouds, shimmering from warm to cold, a thin thread of intense light, and a dark marge of earth with purple tint. I made two pieces – at first, a large one, where I was more interested in colors than shapes. Then I decided to make a smaller version, where I kept the color feeling, but changed the shapes and the composition, leaving out all the unimportant. As a result, I got this painting. There was a pre-thunderous, but not an apocalyptic mood in this work, it seemed that the storm would pass and the tension would disappear…                

This June I couldn’t come to the convention for a number of obvious reasons, but I am very glad that my painting managed to make it to the hot town of Albuquerque.

Sending pictures overseas in our new realities is not for the faint-hearted – it’s pretty slow and very expensive, but it’s worth going for it, if you love some event with all your heart. Fortunately, Lena Tatkina’s painting was also selected for the show, so we sent our works in one parcel.

This time I’m looking at the convention from a distance and I can’t tell you what it’s like, so I’ll start by telling you about my first acquaintance with this event.

The previous convention was held in 2019 and it was my first time there – my first time as an artist and my first time as the president of National Pastel Society of Russia. At the event, I showed my work “Winter Breakfast”, which received a gold medal and was sold at the exhibition.

I was pleasantly surprised by the event as a whole, by its dynamics and its program. And, of course, off-line meetings with the artists who I’d known on-line were very inspiring.

In December of the same year, 2019, we held the first off-line NPS exhibition in Moscow, where we did our best to recreate that holiday mood. For the last four years we have been continuing to create projects in Russia, which help different artists communicate and find the way in this complex world of art.

In February 2020, in the wake of the convention the American magazine Pastel Journal featured me with the iconic title “A Russian Renaissance”. My award-winning picture from the convention at the beginning of the article was still vividly reflected in the objects on my windowsill.

A little later, in 2020, all the projects planned for two years ahead were cancelled one by one. The next convention of pastel artists in Albuquerque was postponed to 2022. I was surprised at such a cushion of time then, but the organizers proved to be right in the end.

For the remaining off-line overseas projects of the last two years, my paintings travelled without me: a big two-artist exhibition in Taiwan, several shows in France, IAPS exhibitions in Chicago and Dunedin, to name a few.

That is why before the 24th of February this year I was definitely going to come to the convention in Albuquerque.

Now long–term plans are a luxury. I’ve heard from Denis Gardari the following words about our time, which resonated with me – “Stable uncertainty”. That’s exactly what I feel when asked if I will be in a certain place in a month or two… Well, I really hope for the best.

Thank you very much to the IAPS team and President Richard McKinley for the opportunity to participate in the convention! It’s worth a lot to me, considering the mass cancellation of projects involving Russian artists, athletes and people of other peaceful jobs.

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