TOTART: Natalia Abalakova & Anatoly Zhigalov

Natalia Abalakova


“Day after day he trudged into the heart of the Soviet South Eastern Steppes. As he walked, the man imagined himself to be an engine-driver, a pilot, a geologist-explorer, in fact any organized professional being, exploring unknown territory for the first time, if only to occupy his thoughts and keep his heart from melancholy”. (1)

If I were that man, then twenty years ago I would have written the following:

“And thus spoke Akhuramazda unto the holy Zarathustra (Zoroaster): Oh Zarathustra, I have created world in a place, where nothing formally existed. Had I not created it, this world would have turned into non-existence.

Now, however, I do not care about all this and I would like to say one thing only (almost like Zarathustra):

Cold is the boundary between good and evil.

The only thing that interests me in my artistic life is the illogicality of the fate of a work of art, where Nothing is conditioned by Nothing; and if a single link drops out it does not mean that the whole chain is destroyed. The development of ‘drama’ does not turn into the:

Demonstration of the method

One can only search one’s own memory, for it lies on the boundary between Good and Evil. There is nowhere else to look. The objective world does not exist for me. From this arises the problem of Mutual Understanding (vzaimoponimanie). This is a very fashionable problem these days. I really believe the area of ‘mutual non-understanding (vzaimoneponimanie)’ should be emphasized. One has to make an attempt to ‘see’ the other person. Fully believing that he has a completely different way of thinking. I am convinced that a human being and a stone have more in common than do two human beings.

In a creative context communicating the experience of ‘attempting to see the other person’ occurs on a special energy level. Everything here is based on nuances. These slip away from both record and description. Only a work of art is capable of communicating such nuances.

If you like, artistic masterpieces are sustained by just one phrase or one gesture. We cannot always remember what it communicated – nevertheless we always know that it is Thus and Only Thus.

If one of the aspects of art is the Image, then we have to believe it is reversible – and that means it is replaceable. It is difficult to believe that something without image can exist, and it does, it is the image of reversibility and replaceability.

My face is part of me, the most reversible and replaceable (Beauty Will Save the World). (2)

It is possible that my impression of the world and of the arts were stultified by the education of my grandparents, with whom I was brought up – I used to seek refuge in the company of a deaf and dumb nurse. Because of her I hardly spoke, even at the age of six. I preferred ‘non-verbal communication’ rather than the intellectual prattle of my ancestors. But when I did start to talk, there was no stopping (Journey to the Edge of Democracy). (3)

  1. Andrey Platonov (1899-1951), Soviet prose writer. It is only in the last two years that his major works, such as ’Chevengur’ and ‘Kotlovan’, has been published.
  2. The title of an Abalakova painting and an important part of the philosophy of F.M.Dostoevsky.
  3. The title of a painting by N.Abalakova.


July 1989

(«Natalia Abalakova and Anatoly Zhigalov Zhigalov. Works 1961-1989». New Beginnings. Soviet Art in Glasgow 1989. Third Eye Gallery and E.V.Vuchetich Artistic Production Association )

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