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Mitoeritsj, Vera & de koenst

mei 24, 2008

Russian culture navigator

By Y. Andrusenko

An exhibition of paintings by the Miturich-Khlebnikov dynasty of painters is under way at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. All 4 painters have had personal exhibitions before, but it’s the first time they put their works together for public display. Petr Miturich, his wife Vera Khlebnikova, their son May Miturich and their grand-daughter Vera Miturich-Khlebnikova are connected not only by family relationship but also by a special family style.

In 1916 painter Petr Miturich married a sister of the well-known Russian poet, a futurist and one of the leaders of Russian avant-gardism Velimir Khlebnikov. Struck by Khlebnikov’s outstanding personality, Miturich adopted his artistic vision. In the 1920s he created futuristic paper composition with lines from verses by Khlebnikov and another futurist poet, Alexei Kruchenykh, inscribed on them. “The beautiful world is dying but we are immortal”, one of them says. These words turned out to be prophetic: the Miturich family has managed to preserve something more fragile than paper fantasies – the atmosphere of creativity, freedom and love. Petr Miturich may well be regarded as the father of dimensional graphics. His ideas nearly perished in the cruelest and pragmatic-minded 20th century. His son May brought them back to life, using old photographs. The exposition begins with a wooden hoarse the 5-year-old Petya Miturich cut out from … his new leather sofa. His father liked it so much that he didn’t punish the boy. One reason why there were more geniuses in the early 20th century may be that they can’t evolve in a society in which a sofa is valued more than talent.

Of special interest are models of flight apparatuses and wave-boats invented by Petr Miturich. “My father noticed that all living creatures in this world moved according to an oscillation principle”, May Miturich says. “Considering linear and rotating movement faulty to a certain extent, he sought to create apparatuses that could move on land, in water and air. But he never advanced beyond small-size models made out of old alarm-clocks and other waste materials. All his life he was convinced that the oscillation principle of movement – at present it is known as bionics – would conquer the future”.

Miturich, who called himself the stern realist of the era of avant-gardism, agreed with Khlebnikov that nature was a constantly changing organism. Looking at his paintings and graphics, one feels the pulse of nature in every line and in every stroke. “A painter has a rich fantasy”, Petr Miturich said. “He is absolutely free from pseudo-naturalism. His works are a product of abstract vision of real forms that exist in nature and human culture”.

His wife Vera Khlebnikova devoted herself entirely to her family, which is reflected in the subjects of her paintings: an overcoat on a rack, washed linen during on a rope, views of places visited during rare trips together on summer vacations, portraits of close relatives. “Since my early childhood I was surrounded by painters”, May Miturich recalls. “All our friends were painters, all talk was about art. Up to a certain age I thought that all people, except a yard-sweeper and a milk-seller, were painters”.

“There is no exhausting the new in nature, the same as one can’t reach the horizon”, May Miturich admits. His mother’s collages made of old letters, postal receipts and old stamps reflect a conviction that an artist must not necessarily be on the “trunk line” of history, but is free to build his own hierarchy of values.

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