Gennady Zubkov. From the interview in MOC

I was born in the 1940th year in Perm, to be exact, on the way to Leningrad, in the family of military. Therefore I call myself «plantain» – nearby road plant. Early I left without parents, and was sent to military school, and then to do military service in Soviet army. After demobilization elder sister employed me in Botanical research institute as an artist, because that time I had already studied at Art and graphic faculty of the Leningrad pedagogical institute named by Gertsen.

She was interested in art, exhibitions, and once told me that a professor, the biologist Armen Leonovich Takhtadzhyan invited her on Vladimiir Vasilyevich Sterligov's exhibition which was opened in the apartment because he wasn't aloud to expose anywhere. The sister was delighted: «Such an artist! You need to go there».

I was then absolutely pure in any aspect. 7 years in military school and 3 years in the troops of the Soviet army – something terrible what they do with the person, and, of course, about formalism, Malevich I also had never heard, and had no idea.  Once, at half past afternoon when all scientific intellectuals were going to have a lunch, I went to the dining room, the sister showed: just look about. There two scientists were sitting. And among them there was such a little bit shaggy-haired, vigorous man. I asked: «Who is that?» The sister answered: «Sterligov Vladimir Vasilyevich! He will now be free, and I will acquaint you».

Vladimir Vasilyevich finished a conversation, and went to exit, and we were a certain barrier on the way.

- Hello, here I have been at you, and this is my brother. Is it possible to visit you? The brother is an artist, it would be very interesting for him to look.

- And what do you do?

- I am an artist here, the designer.

- And somewhere do you study?

- Yes, Art and graphic faculty of the Leningrad pedagogical institute

- Aaaa. No, it is impossible.

It was so! And it was so unexpected that we were absolutely tactless and both cried in chorus: «Why?» Vladimir Vasilyevich answered: « Don't you  see what is going on around?» The 60th years, the beginning, it was not yet the best time, and Vladimir Vasilyevich had passed through 4 years of camps, but we didn’t understand anything, looked around and saw nothing, honestly admitted: «We see nothing». Vladimir Vasilyevich said: «Ah, you are abstract artists!» I answered: “Vladimir Vasilyevich, I am not an abstract artist». He understood everything. He didn’t wave a hand, but as if inside he had done that and  left: «Sorry, I am on a hurry». We looked at each other: «Also they have gone, under the baking sun, while I looked after them». Nekrasov fits here very much

About three-four days passed, I was going to work and on the road I met Armen Leonovich Takhtadzhyan. «Oh, Gennady! I was at one artist. Don't you  want to have a look?» I thought: «I am not able to visit one, than I’ll go to another». Because I just only began to be engaged in painting. December, month cloudy, heavy sky... Armen Leonovich calls: «Gennady, lets go today, after work». There was also Sergey Yuryevich Livshits, scientist too, he had a small collection of painting, and Armen Leonovich also had. Well, we started. We went up to the third floor of the building, stopped at a door, all in calls, you can’t imagine. Armen Leonovich called - Vladimir Vasilyevich almost instantly opened the door. He looked: «Ah, Gennady! Tanya, Tanya!» (Tatyana Nikolaevna Glebova, his wife, student of Filonov). Tatyana Nikolaevna entered. «Tanya, it is Gennady. Can you imagine? It is the fate».

What was the first feeling? The feeling of purity. Those people, faces, eyes. Everything what had been on walls, just stroke at once though nothing was clear, I just was at once in shock. I never saw, I never heard, I had no idea that it could be in such a way. I thought, well, here now they would start talking, some questions, some answers and something would become gradually clear... We sat down to a table. Very modest treat, some candies in candy wrappers, sushechki, tea (they lived very lowly). Vladimir Vasilyevich asked: «Armen Leonovich, do you want, me to  read the Blue notebook number 10, Vvedensky?» In my opinion, that was  «the invitation of me to think»: «we will think in clear day, having sat down on a stone and on a stub. We will think in sunny day. Round us flowers, stars, people and houses grew at a circle. From mountains high and abrupt noisy water falls. We sat at that moment, all of us watched them. Round us birds tremble, and blue maidens pass». These blue maidens - that was the end. I understood that I was lost! Nothing was clear! But it was so fascinating and unusual! The tea drinking was finished, it was time to say goodbye... Vladimir Vasilyevich asked: «And here you, the young man, don't you want to learn how to draw in such a way?» - «Yes, of course!» - «Bring the drawings everything you have, in a week».

I had a lot of drawings. Even now I am ashamed to remember what I have brought that time. And poor Vladimir Vasilyevich with Tatyana Nikolaevna were sitting and looking: «Aha, there is now one». And I have understood that it was the catastrophe. Somehow among drawings there was one with old architecture and the half of sun sat after  dome of  the turret. I have drawn a turret, but all the sun was drawn in a whole circle in the sky, and behind the turret too. Vladimir Vasilyevich said with relief: «Well, Tanya, good?» Tatyana Nikolaevna has looked at Vladimir Vasilyevich and said: «Yes». «You’ll come in a week, and bring picturesque and plastic volume». - «And what is it?» - «If I tell you, it won't be interesting to you to do». I thought: «That’s the end, all the time minefield is here, left step, right step»... I suffered, suffered, but then have thought out one piece and they liked. I have thought out two peaked forms and a point of a descent - as some wings. Vladimir Vasilyevich looked: «Yes, that is not still the curve, not a “krivushechka”, but look, it wants to fly up». Tatyana Nikolaevna answered: «Yes». So our future was defined. I began to go to classes.

In the 60th year Vladimir Vasilyevich spoke: «I feel myself as if I have heard a crimson bells — «krivushechka» (curve) - a new additional element, to replace a suprematist straight line». Further  on some  new signs, new forms appeared which Sterligov left us in inheritance. In the 73rd year he has started talking about surrounding geometry. The object, the material world, per se, were rather studied and what was around? What were the qualities of an environment? And on change of «expanded watching» of  Matyushin, «expanded consciousness» of Sterligov has come, i.e. the width of the received wealth in picturesque culture and state of Spirit should be used to capture the space round the objects. The surrounding geometry led to the new plastic principle of the art plane organization - «the form does a form».

Vladimir Vasilyevich always looked for some confirmation in the world. Also I keep in mind when there was a conversation about an album, about a curve and about the statement of Bowl-Dome art, he remembered Max Bill's sculptures constructed on some myobius-curves. There was also a conversation on modern architecture. The Confirmation for a new way of the organization of picturesque space exited both in Matisse works, and especially in Morandi works. So the way which was planned by Vladimir Vasilyevich by the dotted line now turns into little path which we should tread as a new road.

Vladimir Vasilyevich always spoke: «What is the form now?» And it is very important question, also the lesson of Vladimir Vasilyevich that «the artist is very sensitive tool, he needs to look at the world - and, here! A giving hand - God’s gift». This gift he has deserved by all self-sacrificing life. And this should be earned.

What is interesting in? He has no work simply for nothing. In any work there is something that will stop you, it means the problem. This makes impossible to pick out single work from a number. Works are different – the hieroglyphs, the strange forms, Bowl-Dome structure of the Universe. They are all interesting only because Vladimir Vasilyevich didn’t paint for waste of time. He was inside the problem and called for this his students. At the first meeting of Jesus Christ with the disciples after Resurrection, what did he say? – «What I whisper to you, tell from the roof». And what is it? You must share our experience. And what is to share our experience? It is a School. And it seems to me that Vladimir Vasilyevich, in spite of any difficulties and difficulties, has paid to his school a lot of time. Because once a week we gathered and on certain topics which were put by him, classes were conducted. The school as such, its pictorial and plastic means are very important tool to enrich the experience of cultures, that is the conclusion from the preceding pictorial and plastic culture.

What has preceded the appearance of such person as Vladimir Vasilyevich Sterligov - Russian avant-garde of the 20-30th years - Malevich, Matyushin, Filonov, a number of names … The institute of arts carried out research work and promotion, there were organized debates, exhibitions, lectures. And Vladimir Vasilyevich has been immersed in all this. And it has turned out in difficult years that he couldn't use such opportunities. The same exhibition was in the 68th year where the Arts council has risked to expose one small drawing of Vladimir Vasilyevich. It was accepted. On the 4th day. At that time exhibitions were accepted by representatives of Regional committee of Party. Suddenly, it was closed. Why? Sterligov! Not work but a surname. Because the person allowed himself to have his own opinion.

«The artist, - according to Sterligov, - is responsible for the things that he resorts to the world. Therefore his first problem is color detection. But not just simply paints, no. The spirit of the artist is reflected in painting». And he perfectly felt this. «You have told that red and green are additional … Read the Gospel, go to the spiritual father, confess … it is still necessary for painting, for creativity, to prepare yourself . And it fills your work with quite certain content too. The content is unimportant, the image itself is unimportant, but the purity of color and also harmonious combination of forms are important, and especially your inner world in which you have started to create something is important» … And all the works of Vladimir Vasilyevich have this quality.


Gennady Zubkov. From the interview in MOC