Artist Victoria Lomasko On Her Favorite Books

A life 2023

Table of contents:

Artist Victoria Lomasko On Her Favorite Books
Artist Victoria Lomasko On Her Favorite Books
Video: Artist Victoria Lomasko On Her Favorite Books
Video: Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko [cc] 2023, February

INTERVIEW: Alisa Taezhnaya

PHOTOS: Alexander Karnyukhin

MAKEUP: Irene Shimshilashvili

IN THE HEADING "BOOKSHELF" we ask journalists, writers, scientists, curators and other heroines about their literary preferences and publications, which occupy an important place in their bookcase. Today, the artist Victoria Lomasko shares her stories about her favorite books.


Victoria Lomasko


Life in Serpukhov was boring, which is probably why I especially liked books about heroes and everything heroic

There are many books in my parents' house in Serpukhov; they stand and lie in all cupboards, in bedside tables, in a closet, in suitcases. My dad bought books. He is an artist who decided that his child would also become an artist, and most of the books in the library are about art. Some of the books that he bought for me before I was born, I was able to master only at the age of nineteen or twenty. Realizing early that I would have to become an artist, I began to read the memoirs and diaries of artists in order to understand how not to die as a genius in poverty, but, on the contrary, to become famous and live well. It is a pity that in the "Bookshelf" someone has already managed to tell about "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Vice versa)", this is one of the most read things in my library.

Life in Serpukhov was boring, which is probably why I especially liked books about heroes and everything heroic. As a teenager, I was greatly impressed by "Night Flight", "Planet of the People" and "Military Pilot" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. After reading the books, I went to the sports airfield in Drakino near Serpukhov, where small two-seater planes made beautiful turns over the field. Once, having received money as a birthday present, I immediately went to Drakino. Having bought the second seat in the plane, I ordered a corkscrew and a dead loop, after which I vomited for a long time in the clearing. So it became clear that books are one thing, but life is quite another.

Now I could not re-read Exupery, the style seems too poetic and romantic. But the love for the notes and diaries of artists remained. Already in my personal library in Moscow, such books occupy the main shelves. I'm sure every artist needs to learn how to describe their work on their own so that art historians and art critics don't have a chance to hang inappropriate labels.

I started collecting my own library as soon as I moved to Moscow. Mostly I bought books from second-hand bookstores. She took all the publications that could be useful for her studies and work from her parents' library, but she left all fiction in Serpukhov, including her favorite novels. In Moscow, I feel reading as an impermissible luxury: postponing business, lounging on the sofa, learning about the fictional adventures of fictional characters. With age, fiction is more and more difficult.

I studied at the University of Printing to be a book artist, and I have long been more interested in making books myself than admiring strangers. One friend, choosing a publication at my place for evening reading, said that he did not find anything entertaining - he was right: 90% of my books are not for entertainment, but for work.

Each artist needs to independently describe their work so that art critics don't have a chance to hang inappropriate labels


Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin

Khlynovsk. Euclid space. Samarkand "

Having gone to study in Moscow, I immediately took this book from my parents' house, and Petrov-Vodkin wandered with me for a long time in hostels and rented apartments.

I refer to this book at different times and with different questions. Often the autobiography of Petrov-Vodkin, who began his professional career in not easy conditions, supported me during my own ordeals. Another time it is important to re-read his thoughts on art, to compare.When they try to enroll me as an activist fighting for someone's rights, I like to reply with a quote: “In art there is a law for an artist: what is not for you, nobody needs. If your work does not improve you, it is powerless to improve another, but there is no other social task, like improving the human species …”Sometimes you want to watch a book, not read it: it is illustrated by the author's delightful drawings. When I started a project related to the study of the post-Soviet space, "Samarkandia" gave me a lot of new thoughts for lectures and articles.

And I also really like the unusual language of Petrov-Vodkin, most of all reminiscent of the manner of presentation of the heroes of Andrei Platonov. Judge for yourself: “The moon is the nearest satellite of the earth. But in general, the moon was a suspicious apparatus for me: it got on my nerves, developed an indefatigable fantasy. She, like lemonade, pleasantly irritated the taste, but did not quench thirst. " There are many parallels between Platonov's world and the world of Petrov-Vodkin, an artist from Khlynovsk who painted a red horse and the Petrograd Madonna.

Vladimir Lapshin

Artistic life of Moscow and Petrograd in 1917

Our time is often compared with Stalin's time, which seems to me to be incorrect. If we draw historical parallels, then it looks more like the period from 1905 to 1917: jingoistic patriotism without any innovative ideas, failed wars, plundering of the last resources, economic crisis, strong social stratification, crude censorship and the practice of intimidation.

The book begins with depressing quotes from letters and diaries of cultural figures on the eve of the February Revolution. Soon, events begin to develop rapidly, and there is no trace of depression. Vladimir Mayakovsky, artists such as Ivan Vladimirov and Pyotr Kotov, take part in the arrest of former tsarist generals (Vladimirov also draws at this time). Other artists are involved in the defeat of police departments.

The book describes in detail how artists, starting with documentary sketches of grandiose and not entirely clear events, gradually comprehend them and come to larger and more complete forms. The author examines what is happening in the design of street processions and rallies, poster art, magazine graphics. A separate chapter is devoted to the creation of trade unions. And the book ends with a useful section "Chronological outline of events in the artistic life of Moscow and Petrograd in 1917".

Masha Gessen, Mary Nazari

“Through life. A guide to social journalism "

When I first started making graphic reports on social topics, I felt extremely insecure about a dozen questions: how to collect material? How do I arrange an interview? Which questions are correct to ask and which are not? Do I need to verify direct speech with its author? Many things that are important in journalistic work were done by me at random. And suddenly I learn about a life-saving textbook that details the methods of work. It was not possible to buy it in a paper version, but I wanted to refer to the text and actively work with it regularly. I had to print the text on a printer and order a binding for the "book" from the printing house.

In my library there are several more books on journalism, of which I would single out the "Real Reporter" Dmitry Sokolov-Mitrich. I love the composition of his book: after every engaging reportage, there is a heading called “Professional Considerations”. I remember an interesting consideration by Sokolov-Mitrich that a reportage has more similarities with a poetic text than with prose, because its "main property is crampedness."

Roy Peter Clark

50 ways of writing

Drawing is easy. It's hard to write. It's good that I have several help books with recommendations on how to do this. My main assistant is Roy Peter Clark's 50 Ways of Writing.The author explains how to work with the rhythm of the story; how to discern archetypes, poetic and symbolic images behind the events taking place here and now; how to use cinematic techniques in writing; how to move up and down the "ladder of abstractions" in your texts. Clark also shares a list of good writing habits for writing people.

I found "50 ways of writing" freely available on the Internet. As in the case of the book on social journalism, the text was so necessary that they had to print it and order a binding from the printing house. I really like the look of this homemade "book", which is now always close at hand. I underline in the text with pen and marker what seems important, and write my own thoughts in wide margins. This creates a special effect of appropriating material: whether it's Clark's book, or my own workbook.

Turkestan avant-garde

This is a catalog of the exhibition of the same name, which took place in the Moscow State Museum of the East in 2010. I was not at the exhibition, but I saw the catalog for the first time in Bishkek. It has not happened for a long time that when I opened a catalog of art from the 1920s and 1930s, I discovered that almost all the names and works were unknown to me. Some of the artists became a real discovery: Alexander Volkov, Usto Mumin, Mikhail Kurzin, Nikolai Karakhan, Ural Tansykbaev, Ruvim Mazel, Byashim Nurali. Acquaintance with the album prompted me immediately upon returning to Moscow to go to the Museum of the Orient, where I was last twenty years ago, and to start purposefully buying books about art in Central Asia during the Soviet era.

The disadvantage of Turkestan Avant-garde is that, in addition to useful historical information, the catalog contains texts written in the Orientalist language familiar to art critics of the Museum of the East. For example, the experience of artists who came from Russia to Central Asia is described as follows: "The amazing atmosphere of the ancient land impregnated their creativity, fed them with color, saturated them with light."

Vasily Vereshchagin

“Stories. Essays. Memories"

Since 2014, I started working not only in Central Russia, but also in the regions and in other post-Soviet countries: in Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Georgia and Dagestan. For this project related to the study of the post-Soviet space, the library had to be greatly updated. The main find was the books of the artist Vasily Vereshchagin.

I'm not very fond of Vereshchagin's paintings - I think that such a painting as his, today can be replaced with high-quality documentary photography. But Vereshchagin's literary works turned out to be more interesting for me than artistic ones. The artist's descriptions of how he chooses a particular subject are curious: Vereshchagin, attentive to every detail, works almost like a sociologist. For example, in the essay "From a Journey to Central Asia" he describes the slavery position of Central Asian women, the tradition of "batcha" (pedophilia with boys-dancers), calendarkhan - a shelter for beggars, everyday life of opium-eaters and so on. Few of the artists, in principle, wants to penetrate into such worlds and describe them.

Vladimir Favorsky

About art, about a book, about an engraving

In the Polygraph at the art faculty, where I studied, the name of Favorsky was constantly mentioned. Vladimir Favorsky, an artist and theorist, is considered the founder of the printing school of drawing.

In the theoretical works of Favorsky, one can read how, while drawing a space, at the same time draw an object, or how to see a person on a stool in the form of a single shape, like a complex tree. Conceptualists Oleg Vasiliev and Erik Bulatov considered Favorsky as their teacher. “To this day I am in the circle of spatial problems that he outlined for me then, so I consider myself his student and continue to mentally address him with questions, to which, it seems to me, I continue to receive answers,” Erik Bulatov writes in his The book "Horizon". The collection was decorated with great delicacy: an elongated vertical format, black fabric binding with the author's initials embossed in gold, paper in a warm shade, large margins. Even when you don't feel like rereading a book, it's nice to hold it in your hands again.



I don't really like comics.The pages lined for frames seem too tight - how can a free improvisation drawing fit into this rigidly defined form, into these cells? However, documentary comics and graphic reporting are the closest genres, so in my library I have books such as Palestine and Journalism by Joe Sacco, Mouse by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjean Satrapy, Maria and I by Miguel Gayardo, "Pyongyang" by Guy Delil. I chose “Photographer” as the most experimental in form.

The book has three authors: Emmanuelle Guibert, Didier Lefebvre and Frederic Lemercier. The famous French comics artist Emmanuel Guibert has figured out how to assemble thousands of photographs of Didier Lefebvre, taken in Afghanistan in 1986, into a complex and finished work. Between frames with photographs, the artist builds additional frames, in which he painted what happened to the photographer himself: how, where and why were these photos taken by him?

In one night, I read a fascinating story about how a French photographer, along with the secret mission of Médecins Sans Frontières, illegally infiltrates Afghanistan, where the war is taking place. Lefebvre's photographs look powerful evidence, Hibert's light drawings seem to be drawn in one breath, Lemercier's layout is impeccable. I want to say a huge thank you to the St. Petersburg publishing house "Bumkniga", which publishes such books in Russian.

Alphonse Daudet


"Sappho" by Alphonse Daudet is one of the few novels that I reread at different ages. This is the story of a love affair between a provincial young man who came for an internship in Paris and an adult woman, a bohemian model and kept woman, nicknamed Sappho.

The story was written by Daudet for the edification of his sons, and the writer uses the details of his own biography in the novel. Arriving in Paris, Daudet cohabited for a long time with the "lady of the half-light" Marie Rie, who was much older than him, and after that he had a lot of effort to leave this relationship.

It seems that Daudet was trying to write a cautionary novel about vicious passions, but the result was a story about a boring and philistine young man who disdainfully treats women below himself in social status, but is ready to use them. Lively, charming Sappho eventually chooses the latter between non-reciprocal love and self-respect. So instead of a misogynistic book, it turned out to be a feminist one.

Poems by German poets "Sleeping Apple"

In my parents' house, probably due to the fact that all the shelves, cupboards and pantry were already packed with books, my dad allocated a suitcase for my children's paperback books. I remember the happy moments when, shutting myself in the room, I opened my suitcase and looked at my treasures. I liked some books much more than others. I noticed that the pictures in favorite books were drawn by the same artists, namely: some Ilya Kabakov, Viktor Pivovarov and Eric Bulatov with Oleg Vasiliev.

The most beautiful was the book of German poetry "Sleeping Apple" in the design of Kabakov - it looked very stylish. I liked that the spreads of the book were made with a sophisticated imagination: here you have screensavers, and endings, and drop caps, and painted margins! Imagine my surprise to find out in adulthood that my favorite illustrator Kabakov is the same great conceptual artist Kabakov, and he designed children's books solely for the sake of earning money: “From the very beginning, I intended to draw exactly what was expected of me, so that sooner“move up at the box office. " Until today, I have not had any artistic ambitions in this area, and I have not, if only they would “miss”, “accept” my drawings in the publishing house”. But I still love Sleeping Apple.

Popular by topic