E-Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.     Berlin                                                  

     E-E Evgenij Kozlov: art - "Сказка (Skaska) / Märchen / Fairy-tale"

Из цикла "E-E-Сказка" (E-E Skaska)

From the series "E-E Skazka" ("E-E Fairy-tale")
1982. 1997. 2007.

E-E Skazka / E-E Fairy tale at Gallery Hannah Barry, London, 2014 >>

E-E Skazka / E-E Fairy tale at Gallery Hannah Barry, London, 2015 >>
Text deutsch>>

text english >>

No. 78 + 79

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

No. 86 + 87

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

No. 178 + 179

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"
No. 182 + 183 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

No. 158 + 159

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

No. 82 + 83

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

No. 50 + 51 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"
No. 14 + 15 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"
No. 222 + 223 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"
No. 130 + 131 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"
No. 162 + 163 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale" (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov - "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska)" / "E-E Fairy-tale"

E-E Fairy tale. 1982. 1997. 2007.

E-E Fairy tale, pronounced “Yeh-Yeh Fairy tale”, is a series of 114 graphic works on vat or tinted paper, partly made with collage, and painted on both sides. It is in A4 format, the size of a large book, but 17 of the works have been considerably extended around the borders. Fifty-seven sketches on carbon paper complete the series, creating a total of 285 images.

E-E Fairy tale proposes riddles, mysteries, charades and double entendres with an overwhelmingly rich and complex array of colours, figures, forms, script and other details. Using the language of music, E-E Fairy tale is an extensive free jazz composition: narratives based upon single motifs unfold through free associations, which are conducted to intriguing multiphonic harmonies.

In 1997, Evgenij Kozlov received, from the Hahnemühle company, a sample collection of vat paper the company produces, all in an A4 format. Vat paper has a structure that incites the senses, and Kozlov was attracted by the variety of colour, tone, thickness, and surface. When he first selected the paper for new graphics, the images were thematically independent of each other, but at one point he decided that they would form a cycle. He called it E-E Сказка, or, translated into English, E-E Fairy tale.

In 2007, Evgenij Kozlov introduced this concept as page 1 (the English translation is added after the dash):

Е-Е моменты (творческие) неисповедимы … как в сказке, так и в жизни. (этой). / Mysterious are the (creative) E-E moments ... in a fairy tale, as well as in (this) life.

Why “Fairy tale”? When asked in 2015, the artist said that he paid tribute to the Russian predisposition for images and imagination, and what could be more Russian than fairy tales? Every child grows up with fairy tales; they nourish their feeling and, most importantly, their capability to give a meaning to this life. By listening to fairy tales, we create images of “possible worlds”, as logicians would say, or multiverses, in the terms of physicists. Fairy tales, however, are not speculative theories: they enrich us with their colourful, figurative content.

In essence, fairy tales are narratives characterised by two elements: riddles and transformations of substance – the alchemy of the soul. These two are, by necessity, interlinked, since from the point of view of a human being transformation, transmutation is a riddle to be solved. If fairy tales were simply a projection of the “collective unconscious”, to speak in the terms adopted by Carl Jung, it would be enough to forever come back to the same stories, figures, and archetypes: the riddle of the Sphinx, the Metamorphoses by Ovid. All is asked, all is said.

But there is the artist’s own experience of the wonders of the world, and this experience is, quite naturally, related to a specific place in time. “E-E” expresses just this: besides being Evgenij Kozlov’s art persona and his signature since 2005, it is also a reference to the rhythm of pop music, the lightness and freshness of “yeh-yeh”, visualised by bright, touching, funny, sexy figures and poems. Thus, the double presence of “creative E-E moments” – “as in a fairy tale, so in (this) life” – brings his individual experience to the realm of his spirited imagination and poeticises it, or, what is even truer, lets his imagination play with empiric objects.

The reality present in these graphics is the artist’s own youth, Leningrad of the late 1960s and the 1970s – school, art, fashion, courting, songs. It is absorbed through a romantic feeling of the 1980s, enriched with a sophisticated glance of the 1990s and intensified with visions of the new millennium. Accordingly, the drawings are signed with three different dates: 1982 as their spiritual birth, 1997 as the year of execution (already in Berlin) and 2007, when Evgenij Kozlov concluded the final version of the works, adding or removing specific elements “in necessary places”, completing the graphics with images on the reverse, and cutting the corners into rounded shapes. Many works received paper or textile applications, significantly enlarging their size, but also evolving the subject matter. Subsequently, a number of titles were modified, and the artist rearranged the sequence of the works. The new order no longer follows their chronological appearance, but takes into account thought lines and visual relations established through the narratives.

With its sumptuous arrangements, its love for plenty and detail, its abundance of characters and situations, E-E Fairy tale is a 21st-century counterpart of Alexander Afanasyev’s collection of Russian fairy tales from the 19th century. They were an important source of inspiration for artists and composers, notably for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, a famous example being Stravinsky’s composition The Firebird with costume designs by Léon Bakst. Such an idea is present in the poem of graphic no. 50: Достойная Кино, Балета, Оперы картина: 4 обнаженных девушки и с ними молодой мужчина. / A picture worthy of a ballet, opera or movie: Four naked girls together with a man – that’s really groovy!

E-E Fairy tale, however, is not an exploration of Russian folk tales. Kozlov’s images do not express a given context, and unlike his artist friend Vladislav Mamyshev-Monro, he did not reinterpret or stage the popular illustrations of Russian fairy tales by Ivan Bilibin from the early 20th century. More precisely, the narratives of E-E Fairy tale did not exist prior to the images and are therefore not retold in them. Apart from the figures themselves, these narratives constitute the fundamental novelty of the 285 images.

Unusual in style and content, the graphics nevertheless possess the key motifs of Russian fairy tales. Thirty-one such structural units or “functions” were standardised by Vladimir Propp in his 1928 book Morphology of the Folktale, and it is not difficult to trace them in Kozlov’s graphics. Examples are departure (Ушел парнишка в армию … / The fella joined the army … no. 194), receipt of a magical agent (Собачка / Doggy, no. 187), guidance (Хоть горшком с золотом. / Call me a pot of gold or whatever you like. no.114), struggle (Когда я вырасту такая же большая, как она, я буду еще лучше. / When I'm all grown up like her, I will look even better. no.183), return (Эскиз праздничной открытки на праздник „23 ФЕВРАЛЯ“. / Draft for a greeting card for February 23 holiday), transfiguration (Ничего страшного. / Nothing to worry about. no. 106) and wedding (Если ты и я одно целое, то тогда нам можно сшить платье белое. / If you and I are one, no less, then we can make a white dress. no. 95.)

It goes without saying that the artist did not set himself the aim of interpreting Propps’s theory. Likewise, our point is not to deconstruct Kozlov’s pictures by meticulously identifying each graphic with a function, nor to apply some kind of reductionism: we do not pretend to know that the author wanted to say just this. Rather, what interests us is whether the pictures of E-E fairy tale are more than a personal, if poeticised account of things. Are they touching cardinal points of human transformation in a way we were unaware of earlier? As we trespass the boundaries between the imaginary and reality, we explore a prodigious game of concealment and revelation, expressed in the title of graphic no. 54:

Секрет не открою никому – даже Богу самому. /

My secret is for me alone – even to God it won’t be known.

To the artist himself, it is obvious that for the creation of universal images there is a prerequisite – a particular state of being where he becomes receptive and active simultaneously. This he indicates by his art persona “E-E”. It supersedes Evgenij Kozlov, not in the sense that they are two different personalities (they are not), but because “E-E” stands for a purer, more comprehensive individuality, capable of shaping such a state of being within himself. And, it should be added, giving it a distinguished feminine position: Маша плюс Даша минус Наташа. / Masha plus Dasha minus Natasha. (no. 10)

But “E-E” is not only a reference or sign. It is in itself a very appealing geometrical image, like the axes in a two-dimensional space. On the graphics, it appears in manifold forms, often as a dominating element. The combination of one vertical and three horizontal bars, when shifted to a 90° angle, can also become a bridge (no. 123, 124) or be piled into masonry (no. 143, 144). “E” is contained in grids and hatchings, of which the artist makes ample use.

Last but not least, when pronounced in Russian (“ye-ye” or “yeh-yeh”), it forms a swift and rhythmical sound, joyous and affirmative, and in this is similar to the English “yea” or “yeah”. The Russian “E” is an iotified vowel, as is the dotted “Ё” (yo). In this way, these letters can also be understood as phonemes creating sound patterns. They may stand on their own as with EЁ, which is the possessive pronoun “her”, (Жизнь Е-Ё тюрьма / Life is her prison, no. 82) or become parts of words and texts – for instance, when the double E creates a comparative degree: острее = sharper. However, what is clear to the Russian reader needs additional interpretation when translated: in English, the iotation of the “E” demands an extra letter “y”, and as a result, the interaction between letter and sound is lost.

In 2014, Evgenij Kozlov shifted his signature “E-E” to the front of his name – (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov; the idea was that his birth name should ultimately disappear. Interestingly, it now reads “Ye-Ye Yevgueni Kozlov”, repeating the “Ye” sound three times, as in “yeah-yeah-yeah”. The triple affirmation (= three times “yes”) is, as we know, a magic spell.


A sophisticated technique laid the ground for these virtuous compositions.

The 114 main motifs were produced in pairs. Putting carbon paper between two sheets of paper, the artist first drew the basic composition on the upper sheet of paper. On this, the lines of the drawing are clearly emphasised, whereas on the sheet below the carbon paper, the ‘copy’, retains the soft features of a carbon print. Some of the papers used are of considerable, cardboard-like thickness. In such cases, the artist had to apply a certain pressure while drawing, and for this purpose he used ballpoint pens of different colours - blue, black, red, and green.

He then continued to develop the motifs separately on the two sheets of paper, using ballpoint pens, lead pencil, colour crayons, wax crayons, fibre-tip pens, permanent markers, Indian ink, ink, gel pens, glitter glue, neon glue, spray paint, block letters from Letraset sheets (both Latin and Cyrillic), paper additions, metal staples, and fabric.

With this, he pursued the principle of ‘theme and variation’. Although the titles of most pairs relate to each other thematically, the final images sometimes differ, to the extent that their common origin is almost invisible and can be identified only with the help of the carbon paper, where the original motif remains unchanged. At the same time, there is no preference given to the ‘top’ sheet of paper over the copy.

The main characters of the drawings are attractive, smart girls and women, as for Evgenij Kozlov the dominant power of transformation is Love. Love and its companion Eros engage in this transformation with a ‘plus sign’ – in Russian: со знаком плюс – but the ‘plus’ sign is also a cross. The cross appears on many drawings in an obvious or, at times, less obvious way. The innate strength of these women converts them in several drawings into hermaphrodites: perfect beings possessing both masculine and feminine attributes. One pair of drawings with hermaphrodites is titled “Ничего страшного“ (”Nichego strashnogo / Nothing terrible”) and “И ничего особенного“ (”I nichego osobennogo / And nothing special”).

All these women radiate natural self-confidence. They conduct themselves with the greatest of ease and enjoyment, as they move among not-so-smart boys, boxers, sailors, soldiers, skeletons, sculptures, putti, angels, ducks, rabbits, little piggies, snakes, beetles, trees, flowers, hearts, glasses, cups, ice-skates, guitars, books, boats, clothes, shoes, clefs, records, castles, lamps and many other elements. These elements are woven into loose or dense textures of colours and lines.

Script and letters play an important role in these fairy tales. ‘E-E = mc3’ appears on drawing No. 27, a composition displaying a large number of mathematical, chemical and phonetic equations.

Among the letters, ‘E-E’ is predominant, appearing in many forms that build up intriguing geometrical patterns. At the same time, it creates sound images, as in: “E-E-E Hali Gali”, a Russian transliteration of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, hully gully”, and the title of drawing No. 15. This drawing has a particularly charming arrangement of ‘E-Es’. Twenty such pairs cross it diagonally, cascading like the steps of a staircase. Just next to the lowest step, Kozlov has immortalised the Azerbaijani opera singer М. Магомаев – Muslim Magomayev, who in 1963 brought American rock and roll via Italy to the Soviet Union.

The musicality of “E-E Fairy tales” is manifest many ways, for instance in the titles of No. 90 and No. 91 “МУZЫКАЛЬНАЯ СТRАНИЧКА” (“MUZYKAL’NAYA STRANICHKA / LITTLE MUSICAL PAGE”).  It is particularly present in the fast beat of poems and songs that the artist created for these tales. Music inspired them, and during the process of their conception, Evgenij Kozlov remixed, as a homage to his childhood, Soviet hit pop songs from the 50s and 60s in the style of the 1990s, editing three cassette albums titled “E-E music – 85”.

Here are examples from Nos. 130 and 131, translated by Tobie Mathew:

No 130

Since the morning, I’ve been cooking,

Washing up the dirty dishes,

And I scrubbed down all the flat,

Changed the worn-out bathroom matting,

Shined the windows til they sparkled,

Swept the bedroom twice for pleasure,

Then I rootled round the flat,

Anything that I’ve neglected?

Finding nothing further, then,

In the twinkling of an eye,

Booze was bubbling from the bottle,

Downed a measure, all in one,

Out I went into the open,

Dreaming freely of the future:

Raincoat, wedges, flares and glasses,

Here I am, all dressed anew,

Fancy make-up, simply cool,

Visible to any fool.

No. 131

I made my trousers by myself,

They are stretchy round my hips,

Finely tailored at the knees,

Cut-out wedges lower down,

Well why not? It looks alright,

I donned my coat and off I went,

The fancy flares are pretty fine,

Above, I’m altogether starkers,

Underneath my super trousers,

I’m a wholly brand-new girl,

Feeling tingles as they brush,

Soft against my naked flesh,

This is really rather thrilling,

Soul is strong, and flesh is willing.

Hannelore Fobo, 2015


Die Serie "E-E Сказка (E-E Skaska) / E-E Fairy-tale" (gesprochen "Yeh-Yeh Skaska") besteht aus 114 (2 x 57) graphischen Arbeiten auf Büttenpapier bzw. gefärbten Papier, die alle beidseitig bemalt sind. Das Format ist A4, entspricht also einem großenBuch, aber einige der Arbeiten sind entlang der Ränder beträchtlich vergrößert. 57 Zeichnungen auf Durchschlag- oder Pauspapier vervollständigen die Serie, so dass es sich insgesamt um 285 Bilder handelt.

Einige Bemerkungen zur Technik

Die jeweiligen Zweiergruppen entstanden durch die Vorgehensweise des Künstlers: zwischen zwei Papiere im Format DIN A4 wurde ein Durchschlagpapier gelegt und auf das obere Papier das Hauptmotiv gezeichnet, dabei gleichzeitig auf das darunterliegende Papier kopiert. Dieses Motiv hat sich in seiner Gänze im Durchschlagpapier erhalte. In der Regel handelt es sich um schwarzes Pauspapier, es findet sich aber auch gelbes und grünes.

Anschließend wurde das Hauptmotiv auf den beiden Papieren weiterentwickelt, und zwar so, dass sie thematisch aufeinander Bezug nehmen. Die "Verwandtschaft" dieser beiden Papierarbeiten ist nicht immer auf den ersten Blick erkennbar, zum Teil unterscheiden sich die Blätter erheblich und überlagern das Grundmotiv fast vollkommen, wie zum Beispiel in Nr. 162 / 163 oder 178 / 179. Ihre Positionierung als linker bzw. rechter Teil eines Diptychons ist vom Künstler festgelegt; sie ist somit für die Präsentation der Papierarbeiten verbindlich, während das "Grundmotiv" auf dem Durchschlagpapier eine Sonderstellung einnimmt.

Hier ist die Zeichnung nur mithilfe einer Beleuchtung von unten erkennbar. Was auf der Abbildung weiß erscheint, ist in Wirklichkeit das von unten einfallende Licht. Das Durchschlagpapier ist an diesen Stellen vollkommen transparent. Durch den Lichteinfall von unten wirken die Striche etwas breiter, als sie tatsächlich sind, sie "überstrahlen" das Schwarz. Deshalb wurde auf den Seiten, die die Zeichnungen vergößert zeigen, eine vierte Variante eingefügt, nämlich durch die Umkehrung des Durchschlagpapiers von dunkel zu hell und von hell zu dunkel. Diese vierte Variante wurde durch den Computer erzeugt, sie macht die Grundzeichnung augenfälliger und erleichert es, die Entwicklung der Zeichnungen nachzuverfolgen.

Auf den beiden farbigen Blättern der Zweiergruppen kann man gut erkennen, welches oberhalb und welches unterhalb des Pauspapiers lag. Das obere zeigt das Grundmotiv mit scharfen Rändern, das untere die zartere Struktur des Durchdrucks. Bei den Papieren handelt es sich ganz überwiegend um Büttenpapier unterschiedlicher Konsistenz und Farbigkeit, zum Teil von kartonähnlicher Dicke. Dies machte es notwendig, die Grundmotiv mit einem gewissen Druck zu zeichnen, und dazu wurden in der Regel blaue, rote, grüne, schwarze Kugelschreiber benutzt. Kugelschreiber kamen auch in der Weiterentwicklung der Zeichnungen zum Einsatz, doch ist hier die Anzahl der technischen Mittel schier unübersehbar: Bleistift, Buntstifte, Wachskreide, Filz- und Lackstifte,Tusche, Tinte, Gelstifte, Glitterklebstoff, Neonklebstoff, Spray, Papierapplikationen, Metallklammern, Stoff.

Besonderen Stellenwert hat die Verwendung von Schrift, sei es als Druckschrift, etwa mit kyrillischen und lateinischen Letrasetlettern, sei es als akkurate Schreibschrift mit längeren oder kürzeren Texten und Gedichten. Mit Schrift bzw. einzelne Buchstaben verfolgt Evgenij Kozlov immer eine doppelte kompositorische Intention: zum einen inhaltlich, zum anderen ästhetisch. Beide Aspekte der Schrift sind dem "übrigen Teil" der Zeichnung nicht nur gleichwertig, sondern Zeichnung und Schrift bedingen einander.

Die Bilder tragen gleichzeitig drei Jahreszahlen. 1982 ist das Jahr ihrer geistigen Geburt, 1997 das ihrer Realisierung und im Jahr 2007 hat sie der Künstler mit Zeichnungen auf der Rückseite vervollständig. Dabei hat er sie auch signiert, mit Titeln versehen und die Ecken abgerundet. Anschließend hat er die Abfolge der Bilder neu festgelegt. Für Evgenij Kozlov sind jedoch die Titel, die er den Arbeiten gegeben hat, ausschlaggebend. Sie finden sich auf den vergrößerten Seiten.

Sicherlich kann man sagen, dass die Abfolge dieser Zeichnungen einem inhaltlichen Aufbau der Serie entspricht. Dazu sind sind die mannigfaltigen Beziehungen der hochkomplexen Bildwerke zueinander zu differenziert. Das Schlagwort vom "Thema mit Variationen" wäre hier eher zutreffend. Hierzu bedarf es einer ins Einzelne gehenden Beschreibung der "Märchen", die zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt erfolgen soll.

Von der formalen Seite her gesehen gibt es jedoch eine Entwicklung, die durch die vorliegende Auswahl von Zeichnungen nur angedeutet ist. Das vorgegebene Format DIN A4 wird gesprengt, die Ränder werden erweitert oder beschnitten. Durch überreiche Stoff- und Papierapplikationen, Hinzufügung weiterer Motive, die mit Metallklammern befestigt werden, wachsen die Arbeiten auf das Doppelte bis vierfache ihres Formates. Eine ungefähre Vorstellung gewinnt man auf dieser Seite mit dem Motiv Nr. 222 / 223.

Text: Hannelore Fobo, 2005 / 2015