Evgenij Kozlov

The Leningrad Album


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The album

The artistic evolution of the drawings

Song of Desire

•••••••• The Leningrad Album ••••••••

“One day, in Leningrad in the late sixties, a boy – or maybe two – endowed with a sensitive judgment and feeling for art imagined the following: how might the best girls, mentally, intellectually and visually seen, dream of him, although not only that…” Evgenij Kozlov

His ideas turned out to be extremely precise. The first experiments were captured by the young master’s trembling hand as early as this; this is how the drawings gradually came into being.

View of the Neva River
photo: Valentin Kozlov

•••••••• Atmosphere ••••••••

Light, water and architecture make up the special atmosphere of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. They form a specific perception of harmony which becomes noticeable in the balanced composition of the pictures. Even apparent minor details are treated with great care and affection.

In addition, there is a second element which has influenced the creativity of the young artist: the living conditions of a nearly typical Soviet family of the sixties and seventies.

The keyword for this is “Kommunalka”. Kommunalka, colloquial for “Kommunalnaya Kvartira” (communal apartment), is a spacious upper-class apartment of the Russian big cities which was changed into a kind of dwelling-place after the Soviet Revolution: one room for each family and a communal kitchen, bathroom, toilette and telephone for everyone. The only visible sign for an individual living space: the personal bell on the door to the apartment.

Leningrad in winter.
photo: Valentin Kozlov

However strange it might seem at first glance, the turbulent confinement of these very widespread involuntary communities could have its advantages. It conveyed many impressions to the children they would not have been given in a normal Western European family.

Man reading
photo: Valentin Kozlov

Picture a small boy, talented, shy, full of dreams. He discovers in the Kommunalka the cross-section of the Soviet life with all its color. There is something going on everywhere: line-ups in front of the bathroom, quarrels in the kitchen because one of the neighbors has helped himself to some of the family’s salt or the lady next door has occupied all the hotplates because of a family get-together.

But the most interesting part is the women’s sex appeal. Of course sex is not an issue and especially not in front of the youths. One might drop veiled hints which are assumed to be impossible to make out. Everyone tries lead a respectable life as good as possible under these extreme living conditions.

Guests for tea in the communal flat.
photo: Valentin Kozlov

That is why these encounters are more of a casual nature: at the weekly sauna session with his mother who takes it for granted to bring him along with her into the women’s section or whenever he is allowed to watch the adolescent girls from the room next door put on their make-up and get dressed to go out. In their opinion he is not considered to be a man yet and that is why he is allowed to take part in the female world.

But what this attentive boy sees, what he takes in with his senses, is the bewildering beauty of the mature woman whose tight fitting housecoat is accentuating her femininity, that are the gentle motions of the young girl who is washing her face and arms over the kitchen drain, that is the intensity of the neighbor’s perfume who invited him over for cake – all this is of great importance to him before even understanding its meaning.

Magazine with pattern charts
photo:Evgenij Kozlov

As he gets older, starts school and spends several joyful weeks every summer at the pioneer camp, it is he who becomes to be the favorite of the girls of the same age and some of them tell him small and big secrets as a token of confidence. The teachers and camp leaders like to tease him because they take pleasure in his natural reserve. It’s a pure woman’s world this world of school and summer holidays. Of course there are boys the same age he can do something with but all the adults who have a say in anything are women! All of them want to bring him up! They all want to turn little boys up into big fine men who like to listen to the women!

This boy had formed his own idea of this.

Sport activities
photo: Valentin Kozlov

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