Cheer Up Cowboy
Konstantin Zvezdochetov. Catalog essay. May 15, 1998
Being a democrat and a conservative I adore comic strips and
photo-stories. Unfortunately, we have quite a few people who work in
this field, but most of them are talented, and there’s more youth coming
up to work here. Among the masters of the genre L. Gorlova has probably
reached top purity and class. Her earlier works were mostly about
private aspects of human being, slightly flavored with feminism, and
reminded of Latin American soap operas like «My love – my sorrow».
The new series looks more like a quasi-folk pop-fantasy, with the epic
drama of Sholokhov’s «Quiet Don» and a happy end of «Kuban Cossacks» (a
Soviet propaganda movie of the 50ies glorifying happy life of collective
farm workers). Gorlova’s interest to the Cossack theme – enriched with
international problems – approves that she is a follower of the so
called «colonist» tradition in Russian art, which also included: A.
Pushkin, M. Lermontov, A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, A. Venetsianov, A.
Ivanov, F. Tolstoy, Martos, V. Kandinsky, D. Burliuk, Ye. Yevtushenko,
Acad. Joffe, I. Kabakov, T. Novikov, V. Komar, A. Melamid, A.
Khachaturian, D. Prigov, Z. Tsereteli and others. For more than two
centuries this tradition is characterized with Western-like poesis as a
method, and Eurasian mimesis as a style. It is opposed by the
«guerrilla» tradition (the list is enclosed: N. Gogol, F. Dostoyevsky,
L. Tolstoy, A. Tchekhov, A. Blok, V. Mayakovsky, K. Malevich, B.
Okudzhava, A. Fuki, L. Ukrainka, playwright Shwartz, Golovin, Meyerhold,
O. Kulik, A. Monastyrsky, Rerich-Sr., N. Ge, A. Artsybashev, A. Brener,
L. Rubinstein, A. Rubinstein, D. Rubinstein, K. Rubinstein, P.
Tchaikovsky, J. Bakstein and others). This tradition reflects the
opponents like in a mirror, and so it uses either a Eurasian poesis or a
Western-like mimesis, or even mixed and more synthetic methods.
Back in XIX century Cossack was already our equivalent to American image
of cowboy, as well as nibbling sunflower seeds equals to chewing gum. I
feel that Cossack theme is Gorlova’s hit. As if with a single brush
stroke she managed to express everything her precursors tried to tell:
there’s a drama of Homo Sapiens – an eternal pioneer, and there’s a
Diamond dream of the Golden age, and a great Hope that addressing the
High Heavenly Psychoanalyst we might get a universal happy end.