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Editors Choice

Varvara Bubnova, Russian artist with a Japanese soul, at the Tretyakov
by Olga Slobodkina-von Bromssen

he Tretyakov Gallery opens a display of art works by Varvara Bubnova (1886-1983), a well-known Russian artist. She was born in St. Petersburg, into the noble family of Wolf, who were friends of the poet Alexander Pushkin. After graduating from the Emperor’s Academy of Arts, Bubnova started her creative career in the circle of avant garde artists in St. Petersburg. In 1913 she became a member of “The Union of the Youth” art group and participated in exhibitions together with such famous artists as Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk, Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Kazimir Malevich. She translated from French the “Manifesto of the Futurists.” From 1919-1922 Bubnova lived in Moscow and worked for the Institute of Art Culture together with Vasily Kandinsky, Robert Falk, Lubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and Alexander Rodchenko. In 1922 she went to Japan where she lived for 36 years. During that period she created mainly still-lifes and lithographs, actively participating in the artistic and cultural life there. She is still considered one of the best lithographers of that country.

“It’s hard to understand the arts of other countries. They are like foreign languages. One has to learn them to the same degree when one can understand foreign speech. The understanding of a foreign art is probably easier than learning a language, but then the learner should have a big heart and trust in the creative forces of another nation.” These words belong to Varvara Bubnova and she was able to implement this philosophy in her life. Living in Japan, Bubnova taught Russian at universities and brought up quite a number of Russian language specialists whom she also taught to understand the spirit of the Russian culture. The most well-known contemporary professors of Russian and translators into Russian are among her students. In Japan, Bubnova was a real envoy of Russian culture. She wrote stories about Russian art for Japanese encyclopedias. From 1959-1979, Bubnova lived and worked in the town of Sukhumi and at the age of 72 moved back to Leningrad where she died at the age of almost 97. The artist lived a long and interesting life leaving a lot of pupils both in Russia and Japan. In 1982 the Japanese government awarded Bubnova with the order of the Precious

May 11-July 3.
Krymsky Val 10,
exhibition rooms 21-22

Crown of the 4th degree for the development of the cultural ties between Japan and the USSR.

The current display is of the artist’s black and white and colour lithographs, watercolors and paintings—all in all about 70 works—from the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

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