Immediately after my arrival to Irkutsk, one of my hosts, Volodya, scientist at a research institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, took me to visit his friends among the artistic community. In Irkutsk there are several apartment blocks, built long time ago, the top floors of which are occupied only by studios of painters and designers. We visited several of them. On the second night we visited the studio of the painter Zhenya. Above you can view a selection of frames from my video camera.
Nowadays Russian artists have to do without any state subsidies. In spite of that, art is flourishing. Zhenya says that he lives comfortably on what he gets for his paintings. He was planning to move to Moscow for a few month to join his girlfriend there, and still keep his Irkutsk studio.
We talked a lot about the history and fate of Russia. Zhenya was claiming that Russia continues to destroy herself from within by irrational actions of its people. It seems that most of his ancestors where on the side of "whites" (those who fought against Lenin's Bolshevik "red" revolution in 1917-20). Russian government recently renamed the 7th November (formerly celebrated as the anniversary of the Lenin's 1917 October Revolution; still a statutory holiday) as the Day of Accord and Reconciliation. But Zhenya did not want to think much about some reconciliation, and he was doubtful it was worth any effort.
Zhenya was also reciting in a beautiful way one of his favourite poems.
When all vodka was finished at about 1:30 am, Volodya left for his nearby home, and I had to spend the night in the studio of Zhenya's (at the moment absent) neighbour, a well-known Irkutsk designer V.S.
In the morning I prepared breakfast from some meat and vegetables Zhenya gave me. After we ate the stew I prepared, I left at about 10:30 am to finally start my exploration of Irkutsk, and Zhenya went on to sleep as it was too early for him to get up.