(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

Letter C (October 1980 or later) – Harlequin

Of Letter C, only a larger fragment of the envelope (approximately 20 x 11 cm) still exists, but none of its content. Yet due to the painting on the envelope, it can be said that among all of Kozlov’s letters still preserved, this one comes closest to what is generally considered as mail art – art created to be sent via a postal service.

Below Catherine Mannick’s address is a colourful gouache drawing of a harlequin wearing the checkered costume and soft flat cap of the commedia dell’arte Arlecchino. The composition’s lower left corner displays a large rock with some houses at a far distance, while the upper right corner is filled with a fragment of a wheel from which flowers emanate – perhaps a wheel of fortune. With one of his legs posed on the rock, the other one suspended in mid-air, the harlequin is performing a complicated movement. Stretching out his arms in an effort to keep his balance, he is looking down to control his action.  

 

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled (Harlequin) Gouache on paper, approx. 20 x 11 cm, approx. 1980 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University  E-E archival number: E-E-180112

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled (Harlequin)
Gouache on paper, approx. 20 x 11 cm, approx. 1980
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

E-E archival number: E-E-180112



Since the envelope was cut at the upper border, right through Catherine Mannick’s name, there is no stamp indicating its date. Unfortunately, the strange signature below the drawing “Hi Spraque – DM” doesn’t give a clue. In fact, Evgenij Kozlov isn’t even sure whether he wrote it himself – and if so, what it refers too, besides any wild guesses, for instance that “DM” is short for Для Mannick, for Mannick, or that the note was written by a postal worker. Nor do any of Mannick’s letters mention this particular drawing. It is, however, possible to determine an approximate date. In the artist’s own archive, there exists a larger gouache drawing from 1980 with an almost identical harlequin, and it makes sense to assign the same year to the harlequin of Letter C. And because Kozlov learnt about Mannick’s new address from her letter dated 12 September 1980, October 1980 is the earliest possible date.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled Gouache on paper, 23 x 32.5 cm, 1980  E-E archival number: E-E-180096

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled
Gouache on paper, 23 x 32.5 cm, 1980

E-E archival number: E-E-180096



As the harlequin is typically known for his acrobatic skills, the viewer focuses on his agility – on his arms and legs forming two intersecting diagonals, like a large X. The gouache drawing in Kozlov’s archive helps us to understand a more dramatic aspect of the composition that can be easily overlooked – the harlequin’s impending fall into the abyss. In the larger drawing, we see him balancing on a knife’s edge or, rather, on a sword’s blade stained with blood. The blade replaces the underarm of a sinister winged monster dominating the composition – it is the artificial limb of a fallen angel. The harlequin’s gaze expresses outright fear, as any false move could cost him his life. When asked in 2023, the artist confirmed that he most likely created the larger gouache drawing first, and then selected, for the envelope, the fragment with the harlequin which conveys a much more optimistic message when taken by itself.

Gouache paintings constitute an important part of Kozlov’s body of works from the early 1980s (often in combination with tempera and watercolour and applied to various media, including canvas). Kozlov sent Mannick another gouache painting from 1980 in a 14x11 cm format. It shares some features with the compositions described above: the artist’s fast and elegant brush strokes, the ornamental x-pattern of lines and the coloured shadows.

The bright, ostensibly naïve and slightly satirical composition is based on one of Kozlov’s pencil drawings that he created for monotypes, a technique discussed in Letter A. Kozlov dedicated the gouache painting on the reverse:  Дорогой Кате (To Dear Katia), and titled it Петроградские серенады в рождественскую ночь (Petrograd Serenades on Christmas Night). It is possible that the artist created this coloured version, together with its title, as a Christmas present for his friend. In her letter from March 1981, Mannick thanks him for his letters and drawings.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Петроградские серенады  в рождественскую ночь / Petrograd Serenades on Christmas Night Gouache on paper, 14 x 11 cm 1980 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University  E-E archival number: E-E-180113

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Петроградские серенады  в рождественскую ночь / Petrograd Serenades on Christmas Night
Gouache on paper, 14 x 11 cm 1980
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

E-E archival number: E-E-180113
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Reverse of the gouache painting above with inscription (written vertically; here displayed horizontally) Дорогой Кате /To Dear Katia  Петроградские серенады  в рождественскую ночь / Petrograd Serenades on Christmas Night Gouache on paper, 14 x 11 cm 1980 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University  E-E archival number: E-E-180113

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Reverse of the gouache painting above with inscription (written vertically; here displayed horizontally)
Дорогой Кате /To Dear Katia
Петроградские серенады  в рождественскую ночь / Petrograd Serenades on Christmas Night
Gouache on paper, 14 x 11 cm 1980
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

E-E archival number: E-E-180113



The composition presents a charming lady resting in a Victorian parlour chair, listening to a cavalier enchanting her with a mandolin or lute. She is wearing a loosely-fitted gown made of some light material, such as tulle or muslin, displaying a low, wide neckline that exposes her generous bosom. The moustached cavalier is serenading his adored one with ardour, his nonchalantly tied bow stressing artistry while the epaulettes speak of his position in society. We are looking at a bygone world of courtly elegance and eroticism.

Yet again, the composition is less serene than appears at first sight. We recognise the blade from the larger harlequin drawing; here, it is an extension of the instrument’s neck, although not quite so. The cavalier, apparently posing his right hand on the mandolin’s or lute’s neck, is actually swinging a sword to decapitate an angel coming down from heaven – on Christmas Night. In this respect, the pencil drawing is even more drastic, because, here, the hand swinging the sword is disconnected from the instrument, and the meaning of the blade touching the angel’s head is quite unambiguous.

Hannelore Fobo, 18 March 2023

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled Pencil on transparent paper,  42 x 29.4 cm, 1980 Drawing for a monotype (see below), hence with signature E.K. 80 mirrored.  E-E archival number: E-E-180021

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled
Pencil on transparent paper, 42 x 29.4 cm, 1980
Drawing for a monotype (see below), hence with signature E.K. 80 mirrored.

E-E archival number: E-E-180021

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled Monotype on paper, 24.9 x 17 cm on 35.5 x 27.3 cm, 1980 See drawing above  E-E archival number: E-E-180022

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Untitled
Monotype on paper, 24.9 x 17 cm on 35.5 x 27.3 cm, 1980
See drawing above

E-E archival number: E-E-180022




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 18 March 2023
Last updated 7 June 2024