n o v e m b e r 13, 2011

In its time the Moscow Painters Club existed at the Moscow Artist House on Kuznetsky most. It was a place where artists met informally, showed and discussed their new works and talked shop. Right after the Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the old institutes and institutions of the once huge country began to crumble, organizations closed and creative associations ceased to exist. The Moscow Painters Club, too, went out of business.

I was in charge of the state-run Kovcheg exhibition hall at the time, and my colleagues and I decided to put the club back into operation using Kovcheg facilities. On the one hand, we wanted to have a new venue for professional contacts and discussion of concrete art problems or ideas. On the other, we sought to give artists a chance to show their new works when it was utterly impossible to exhibit anywhere else unless you had money. Furthermore, we viewed the Club as a sort of testing ground for new artists that we could later on invite to contribute to our theme or group shows.  At first they were indeed one-night events, but then, at the request of the artists themselves and our regular visitors, those shows ran for up to a week. That practice went on for several years.

It was then that I met Аlexei Vasilievich Kamensky. At our Club events young artists always flocked around him, treating him with obvious respect and some inner trepidation. Meanwhile, Kamensky himself did absolutely nothing that could be interpreted as one-upmanship or any sense of superiority. He was in general a very modest person. As a rule, he was dressed in a very stylish gray padded jacket. I was to learn later that it had been made by his wife, Marta Kamenskaya, a well-known costume designer. It was Marta who made all those stylish jackets for Kamensky. He rarely spoke at Club events; in fact I don’t even remember him ever taking the floor. Instead, he listened closely not only to his peers, by then recognized masters, but also to very young artists. He produced the impression of even learning something from them.

I remember perfectly well the works Kamensky brought to those Club exhibitions. Nearly all of them are now in the Nadia Brykina collection, Switzerland. Frankly speaking, it took me some time to appreciate Kamensky’s paintings. At that time I even failed to see anything special about them or to understand why artists showed so much attention to those works and their maker. Meanwhile, Alexei Vasilievich continued bringing ever new absolutely abstract canvases.

Then it somehow dawned on me, as if the scales had fallen from my eyes, and I immediately felt his painting resound and the air vibrate in his works. However, I personally was utterly stunned by his pastels, which offer a veritable feast for art gourmets. I was so impressed by Kamensky’s pastels that when I ventured into publishing with the Modern Art Consulting series in 2005, the first booklet we did focused on Alexei Kamensky.

I am very glad to see his art win ever new fans and admirers – his works can ever more frequently be seen at all sorts of exhibitions. Nadya Brykina published a monograph about Alexei Kamensky in Switzerland in 2003, and a few years later two volumes of Russian and French poetry with Kamensky’s illustrations. Owing to the efforts of Sasha Balashov the Agey Tomesh Publishers produced an art book, Alexei Kamensky, in the New Art History series in 2007.

Leading Russian museums have already added Alexei Kamensky’s works to their collections and the number of private collectors purchasing his works has also been rising. I think it only logical as this artist has throughout his life been engaged in an unhurried chat with Art, without striving to understand what Truth is, but just enjoying the very process of dissolving his ego in art.