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


      (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Leningrad 80s • No.115 >>

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection • Harvard University

USA-CCCP. Points of Contact.
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov – Catherine Mannick
Correspondence 1979 – 1990

Text and Research: Hannelore Fobo, 2021/2024

Letter B (January 1980) – To Be at Peace with Yourself

In his letter dated 18 January 1980, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov addresses his friend in English, “Dear Catherine”. Accordingly, he also signs with the English version of his name, Eugene, instead of his usual signature, the more familiar Женя, Zhenya, a short form for Евгений, Yevgueni or Evgenij, as he himself transliterates his name.

Following some humorous introductory sentences, the artist informs her that he is now able to dedicate more time to art:

    I quit my job, and now have free time, which I spend only on art. I am drawing with a new technique – and a lot. When I’m doing my best, it turns out well. (p. 2)

In fact, just before the end of 1979, Kozlov quit his job at the Peterhof Palace Museum, where he had been working for five months as a graphic designer more>> – he would take up his next job only four months later – and in 1980, he started experimenting with a monotype technique allowing him to produce small black and white works on paper, mostly depicting surrealistic scenes with acrobats, musicians, dancing couples, animals, angels, and more.  

Because of their narrative content and style, these works may be considered illustrations in the larger sense of the word. Although only two of them refer to specific texts – one to Alexander Blok‘s poem “Пляски смерти” (“Danse Macabre”) and another one to Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “Мастер и Маргарита” (The Master and Margarita) – they all appear to be related to some fantastic tales, thus sharing some features with symbolism.

Several compositions include city landscapes or landmarks, such as Saint Isaac's Cathedral, the impressive neoclassical building located in the heart of Saint Petersburg. It can be seen in a monotype of approximately 9 x 9 cm which Kozlov used as the front page for his letter. From the slightly inclined building, a large curved structure emerges towards the foreground, with a snake’s head holding a ring at its other end. The ring, for its part, reflects the striped spiral ornament of the curved structure. The head of a woman, resting on this structure – the snake’s “tail” – is looking up towards the ring.

The artist comments on his drawing by relating it to a sentence from Catherine Mannick’s previous letter, Letter 5, where she writes “I hope that things are going well for you, that you are enjoying life, and that you are at peace with yourself (is that how you say it?)”.

To which Kozlov answers, on page 4 of his letter “I liked your words about peace and I made a little drawing for you. I think it's about what you call ‘being at peace with yourself’. There is also a second title: ‘The Ring Game’. If you want, I'll teach you that."

While the second title is directly related to the monotype‘s subject matter – and is perhaps also an allusion to Hermann Hesse’s novel “The Glass Bead Game”, which had been published in the USSR – the first title stands in obvious contrast to the artist’s state of mind at the time he created the composition. It was anything but peaceful. On page 3, Kozlov mentions his depression and talks of problems with his eyesight.

    But depression still overtakes me, rarely and for a short time, but strongly. It jumps out of the darkness like a wild animal, grabs and strangles, that's when I suffer and struggle with myself.

    Of course, I would like to avoid this, but it seems impossible for me, too much effort is spent on my favourite activity. The eyes hurt, the right one is constantly red, watery, and the swelling slightly interferes and bothers. The doctor said it was from overexertion. But what can I do, I cannot and do not want to reduce my pace because of this. Sometime later in my old age, I will rest.

Both subjects, the depression, “rarely and for a short time, but strongly”, as well as the problem with his eyesight are recurrent topics in Kozlov’s early diaries (1979-1983) more>>. Since his childhood, the artist suffered from amblyopia, with poor vision affecting his left eye. Constant drawing might have enhanced the strain on his right, “working” eye. However, while it is plausible that his eyes suffered from too much drawing, it is nevertheless strange that “too much drawing” caused his depression, since he usually felt depressed when he was unable to dedicate sufficient time to art. Being one of the many “unofficial” Soviet artists who weren’t allowed to devote themselves fully to art, Kozlov experienced depression, as a rule, when he was working at one of the odd jobs he had to take on.[1] By contrast, he was now enjoying unlimited time for art. Most likely, the depression mentioned in his letter was caused by the general situation he found himself in, without any prospects for the future.

Thus, in two consecutive diary entries written just a few weeks after the letter, we read:

    A heavily dispiriting day. Two days with no work have left me in a state of unease. For the second time in the past month, I have severe eyestrain in my right eye, swollen eyelids, and redness in my eyes. (Diary I, page 1-14, 8 February 1980)

    Severely lacking confidence in myself, my actions, my decisions, and my thoughts. A complete lack of any certainty about the future. Irritable: responding “sharply” when spoken to. Sometimes restless. Anxiety about the future has completely stifled my ability to think about work. I don’t have so much as a single clear theme for a painting. A vacuum and emptiness; lethargy. (Diary I, page 1-14, 17 February 1980 more>>)

Yet it is strange to read in Kozlov’s diary that he didn’t have “so much as a single clear theme for a painting”, when, in fact, Diary I contains countless ideas for paintings and drawings, either as short descriptions or simply listed as titles. Apparently, a state of depression, as severe as it might have been at a particular moment, never completely dominated the artist’s creative mind. Engaging in drawing or painting usually let him find some peace of mind, as the next diary entry, following only two days later, suggests:

    Daytime. Feeling good. During the night, I worked on “The Pyramid”; the first part has worked out well. I am certain that my peace of mind is dependent on how satisfied I am with my creative activity. (Diary I, page 1-15, 19 February 1980 more>>)

The last paragraph of the Letter B, which ends with a positive note, shows that the stream of ideas indeed never ceased:

    While I was writing the letter, I came up with a new idea for a drawing and had to distract myself for an hour. “An elderly man is rocking a child's wooden horse in the air. The woman stretches out her hand to St. Isaac's Cathedral. And from behind the figure of a woman, a large horse's head stretches to the child's horse.” (p. 4)

Kozlov kept the original drawing to himself and created a beautifully coloured monotype copy in an A4 format which he gave to his friend. Like the monotype from the top page of his letter, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is set in the background against an inclined horizon. All other elements also follow diagonal or curved lines, and their multiple intersections make this composition very dynamic.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled. Coloured monotype on paper, approx. 21 x 29.7 cm, 1980 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University  E-E archival number: E-E-180134

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled. Coloured monotype on paper, approx. 21 x 29.7 cm, 1980
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

E-E archival number: E-E-180134

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled drawing for a monotype (see above) Pencil on transparent paper with inscription “K. Mannik”, 29.5 x 42 cm, 1980  E-E archival number: E-E-180029

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled drawing for a monotype (see above)
Pencil on transparent paper with inscription “K. Mannik”, 29.5 x 42 cm, 1980

E-E archival number: E-E-180029


Regarding (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov’s monotype technique:

Inking a glass plate and placing two pieces of paper on top, Kozlov first created a pencil drawing on the top layer. Accordingly, the lower piece of paper, pressed to the glass plate, absorbed the pencil strokes mirror-reversed. Because of the paint – most probably some oil-based paint – the print displays these strokes with a soft velvet texture. Once it was removed from the inking, the paint still remaining on the glass plate could be transferred to another sheet of paper, thus creating a second, negative print of the drawing. In some cases, all three works still exist in Kozlov’s collection.



Because of its size, it is, however, unlikely that Kozlov sent it in the same letter. In her answer to his letter from April 1980 (Letter 6), Catherine Mannick actually refers to a single drawing, writing: “I was very happy to receive a letter and drawing from you.“ She later framed the black and white monotype it and hung it on the wall of her apartment.

Hannelore Fobo, 8 March 2023


[1] See Diary III, p. 3-75-76, 23 January 1983:

A month has passed since I started working at Nizino. I have my own workshop and a lot of work to do. My back gets tired from leaning over the table all the time. I‘m wasting my time and energy on lettering and on pasting clippings from posters to plywood. It’s the same routine every day, and in the end it all has to be thrown away or remade a year later, at most. It’s time spent for nothing, a style of art as propaganda.

Art has lost its pace, the number of paintings and graphic works has dropped so much that I’m constantly worrying about the future, feeling guilty about myself and in front of people more>> and more>>.




(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Быть в покое с собой / To be at Peace with Yourself. Second title: Игра в кольцо / The Ring Game Monotype on paper, approx. 9x9 cm, 1980  Top page of Kozlov‘s letter to Catherine Mannick dated 18 January 1980. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University   E-E archival number: E-E-180114

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Быть в покое с собой / To be at Peace with Yourself.
Second title: Игра в кольцо / The Ring Game
Monotype on paper, approx. 9x9 cm, 1980

Top page of Kozlov‘s letter to Catherine Mannick dated 18 January 1980. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University 

E-E archival number: E-E-180114




(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 2, 18 January 1980  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 2, 18 January 1980

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

Page 2

18.I. 80

Dear Catherine,

было приятно получить твоё письмо, но жаль ты не поместилась в конверте, слишком маленькая. Мне бы сейчас тебя на пол-часика, и я был бы удовлетворен, что твоя жизнь и учеба идет хорошо. С помощью братьев Wright только наши письма могут быть удовлетворены своим положением. Какое-то настроение сегодня странное, чувствуешь? А впрочем оно у меня всегда такое, просто некогда быть с ним постоянно, и если бы я не был художником, то обязательно стал бы Don Giovanni. Каждому своё.

Мои дела, я и сам не знаю каковы они, эти дела. Ушел с работы, благодаря чему появилось свободное время, которое всё без остатка трачу на искусство. Рисую в новой технике и много. Когда стараюсь делать хорошо, получается.  




(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 3, 18 January 1980  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 3, 18 January 1980

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

Page 3

Но депрессия, все равно, настигает меня, редко и на короткое время, но сильно. Она, как дикий зверь, выпрыгивает из темноты, схватит и душит, вот тогда я мучаюсь и борюсь сам с собою. Хотелось бы, конечно, избежать этого, но для меня, кажется, это невозможно, слишком много сил тратится на любимое занятые. Болят глаза, правый постоянно красный, слезится и опухоль чуть чуть мешает и беспокоит. Врач сказал, что это от перенапряжения. Но что поделаешь, я не могу и не хочу уменьшить свои темпы из-за этого. Когда-нибудь потом в старости, буду отдыхать.

Недавно состоялась моя новая выставка. Из тех рисунков, что ты видела, было только несколько штук, остальные свежие. Всем понравилось. Думаю к концу февраля устроить еще одну выставку. Зависит от поме-




(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 4, 18 January 1980  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Letter B to Catherine Mannick, page 4, 18 January 1980

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

Page 4

щения и денег.

Твои слова о покое понравились мне и я сделал для тебя маленький рисунок. По-моему, он о том, что ты называешь “быть в покое с собой”. Есть еще второе название: “Игра в кольцо”. Если захочешь, я научу тебя этому.

Пока писал письмо пришла новая мысль для рисунка и пришлось отвлечься на час. “Пожилой мужчина качает в воздухе детскую деревянную лошадку. Женщина протянула руку к Исаакиевскому собору. И из-за фигуры женщины, к детской лошадке, тянется большая голова лошади”. 

Жаль прощаться, я тоже думаю о тебе, Eugene.

P.S. Пришли, пожалуйста, свои новые фотографии. Хочу увидеть тебя.




USA-CCCP. Points of Contact.
Part 1: Introduction
Synopsis • Preliminary Remarks
1. From Leningrad to Boston and Back
2. Let’s Talk About Art. New Wave, New Artists, and B(L)ack art
3. Perestroika Emissaries
4. The End of Censorship
5. “It Seems I Need a Manager.” The Impact of Getting Popular
6. Leningrad Artists and Musicians in E-E Kozlov's Pictures
— The River of Forgetfulness, 1988 —
Part 2: Letters
Letter A (1979) – Halloween
Letter B (1980) – To Be at Peace with Yourself
Letter C (1980) – Harlequin
Letter D (1982) – The Sea and the Countryside
Letter E (1983) – Saigon
Letter F (1983) – Moscow
Letter G (1984) – New Wave
Letter H (1985) – New Composers
Letter I (1986) – Happy New Year at the Leningrad Rock Club
Letter J (1986) – CCCP-USA
Letter K (1986) – The Price of Art
Letter L (1986) – B (L)ack art • PoPs from the USSSR
Letter M (1986) – A Taste for Colours
Letter N (1987) – Part 1: Changes and Challenges
Letter N (1987) – Part 2: ASSA
Letter O (1988) – Joanna Stingray's Wedding
Letter P (1989) – Perestroika Hot News
Letter Q (1989) – Russkoee Polee • The Russian Field
Letter R (1990) – New Classicals
Epilogue: USA-CCCP. Points of Contact (Forthcoming)

see also
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive)
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection Harvard University >>

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Published 12 March 2023
Last updated 17 June 2024