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     What a strange feeling. Like being on autopilot... I wait for a phone call, I accept the work. I have always been amazed when actors or musicians talk about going out on stage. What agitation? Take a manuscript, read it, sit down, draw. The last time when I could speak about agitation was in the days when I worked for "Ogonyok." In those years I probably did fifty or sixty pictures. I could mention the short deadlines (one or two days), the quality of stories, inconvenient formats, etc., but nevertheless I did eight or ten excellent drawings! I never saw such drawings either before or after. I always loved it, when in the works of an artist, beside skills there is something more, some sort of trick, original approach, artist's own attitude. More: the drawing may be gimpy, even this very drawing may be completely excluded, but if there is the artist's own element, it means that the picture is really accomplished. There are few such artists today. In general our artists are like graduates of the same art college or students of the same teacher. The successful works I could recall are isolated cases, they have not become prevailing in the general art flow. Several years ago I saw Popov's drawings for "Robinson Crusoe." I have such works in mind.
     And of mine I remember a short story by Yury Nagibin in "Ogonyok," on the death of Zoya Fyodorova. I drew something there, some dark people, some jewelry, but the main thing is that below I drew a sequence from the old film "The Girl Friends," with Zarubina, Jeimo and Fyodorova. So, Fyodorova's face was roughly stroked through with black ink.
1
     Or – in the same "Ogonyok," a bad excerpt from a bad novel by Anatoly Rybakov, where the hero returns from exile. I drew this hero and alongside I used a photo from the 1930s, a red-carpet welcome parade in Moscow with celebratory leaflets falling from the sky. And a little further, a monument to the conquerors of Siberia, young Communists with picks and shovels. These two examples are really good, but I am not talking about them so as to boast. I would say that today the artist must not only draw, first of all he must think. It doesn't take a lot of gray matter to transfer a literary subject to paper, to draw walking or sitting people. In that case it will be rather student skills than the artist's own intelligence.

From Levon Khatchatrian's notes, 1990s
 


 

1) Zoya Fyodorova (1909-1981), Soviet actress. She became famous in 1935, after the release of film "The Girl Friends" where she played with two other future Soviet stars, Janina Jeimo and Irina Zarubina. Her life was tragic: in 1940s Fyodorova fell in love with the American military attaché Jackson Tate, refusing the courtship of Lavrentiy Beria, the omnipotent evil genius who became Fyodorova's personal enemy. Jackson Tate was immediately deported from the USSR and Fyodorova was shipped to Siberia and detained in the labor camp until 1955, separated from her daughter. Later Fyodorova returned to the cinema and played in several well-known Soviet films. In 1976, after a long separation, she finally met Jackson Tate, her lover and father of her daughter Victoria. Rear Admiral Jackson Rogers Tate succeeded in arranging their daughter's release from the Soviet Union in 1975. In 1981 Fyodorova was killed at her home. Neither the killer nor the reasons for this mysterious murder were ever known. There were rumors about Fyodorova's jewelry being stolen, but many suspected that there were political reasons for this murder.


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