Evgenij Kozlov

The Leningrad Album

The artistic evolution of the drawings

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The album

The artistic evolution of the drawings

Song of Desire

•••••••• The artistic evolution of the drawings ••••••••

We do not know whether the young artist who at the age of twelve (in 1967) is about to enter adolescence approaches the opposite sex actively. In art his desire reveals itself in a quite romantic way, while at the same time depicting a very personal view.


The drawings initially appear as studies of figures. It is hard to say whether at this early stage women actually sat for him, and if they did, whether they undressed. Most of their poses are natural movements, and he might have undressed them - partly or totally - purely in his fantasy. Still the poses are more varied than what the young artists knows from famous paintings in the Hermitage, such as the Danae by Titian.

The first series of drawings show different poses of the same figure, all on one paper. Later various figures are related to each other and identified by their names. These drawings could be called genre scenes: they are set in a familiar surrounding - the interior of apartments, indicated with few details, and they depict, at least for the artist, typical forms of interaction between different persons.

Throughout the album the intimacy of a private room in an individual (and not a communal) apartment remains characteric of the scenes, but as the subject matter evolves, the figures and the scenes become less and less static.


Very soon, in 1968, a narrative technique appears, combining several drawings to a little story. It is also interesting to see how the artist effaces those parts of the drawings that do not satisfy him. Since he never prepares his drawings with a pencil but uses ink and other colours he cannot erase, he simply crosses out what he does not like. Nothing disappears altogether, and the viewer appreciates these graphic features. We also note the painstakingly exact dating of the drawings, for instance "November 5, 1968, 18.47 hrs" completed with "19.10 hrs". It obviously took another 23 minutes to fully conclude the creative process ot this sheet of paper.


In 1969 Evgenij Kozlov starts creating dialogues he relates to individual figures. Each figure is defined by a number which marks the respective phrase in the conversation. At first these talks are very short and merely characterize the place of the scene or of an upcoming date. Sometimes an object is further explained by a word, when its function cannot be fully depicted by the image: next to a tape recorder we read "Very loud", on another drawing we find the term "rain" (in English) to let us know that it actually rains outside, and on yet another "four hours later". All these comments make the situations and their whereabouts more precise and thus intensify the atmosphere. It is important to note that even later when the amount of text increases considerably, the drawings always remain the dominant feature and never merely become illustrations of the text.


The same year the two friends Ira and Sveta appear, and a whole cycle is dedicated to them.


In 1970 we spot the first boy - and throughout the rest of the album there will never be another. We can assume that this boy is to a certain degree the alter ego of the artist. Ira and Sveta meet him at his flat, and a game of reciprocal discoveries begins, mixing ingenuousness and naivety with intuitive knowledge about the significance of the tension between the two sexes - a significance going beyond the purely sexual.
The girls are certainly the driving force in this game. They take the initiative. Their alledged passivity, for instance while waiting for the decisive phonecall, is part of the play they direct partly consciously, partly unconsciously. It is they who encourage the boy to take the first step, and the first step isn't a first step at all, but more likely a second, or a third.

Ira and Sveta

The girls overcome their shyness in the company of each other. There is always one best friend who dares a little more, who is more determined, who persuades the others to go along. The plenitude of female characters becomes overwhelming. Yet each is treated in image and text as individuality, each unfolds her particualr charm. There is no star among ugly ducklings - they are all perfect in their own way. And so there is hardly any envy among them. They graciously admire each other's beauty. They are united by desire and by the wish to be desired.


Beginning in 1971 the drawings show surrealistic elements, enlarged shadows, arrows, contours, thus providing the images with a psychodelic-surrealistic element. At the same time the mature, self-confident woman comes to the fore, mostly as teacher. Although she does not push aside the young girlfriends, she still sees herself as serious rival for the favour of her attractive lover. She knows what she wants and moreover, she knows her qualities.


The young artists gradually gains self-assurance and reveals himself on the drawings as painter of nudes. In a seven-day cycle in 1972 a different girl poses for him every day of the week: on Monday Rosa (17 years), on Tuesday Svetlana (24), on Wednesday Mila (15), on Thursday Olya (16), on Friday Nastya (15), on Saturday Tatyana Viktorovna (35 ) and on Sunday Elena Vladimirovna (38) with Lenochka (16). On the Thursday sheet of paper we see the artist's hands appear at the border of the paper. Of course each of the ladies would love to come back the next day, but unfortunately this is not possible! Every day of the week is occupied! ( the artist certainly does not let anyone know about this.) And so each woman is asked to come back on "her" day the following week.

Thursday (fragment); from the series "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday."


The last drawings show an increasing complexity of the composition of figures (9 persons and more), and the texts become longer and longer. Infact only the number of girls varies (but they still remain individual). The boy - if he appears at all - is always the same: the adored darling of the women. One main reason for their adoration is his artistic talent.

Here is the dialogue of one of the last scenes from 1973:

The two girls (3, 4) arrange a date with the boy (1) on the telephone:

(4) Hi, we will come and see you this evening (1) When? (4) Around six o'clock (1) Sorry, I still have to do physics and chemistry, and afterwards I want to draw. (3) Darling (pushes away her friend from the receiver ...) (4) (her friend also pushes her away): No way. We will draw together. (1) All right. When? (4) Let's say nine o'clock? (1) O.K. (4) So that's fine for you? (1) Sure (3,4) full of expectation they put down the receiver and pour from a second bottle of champaign ...

Now the two discuss in great detail how to present themselves at the date:

(4) Do you think I should put on my petticoat? (3) Why not (4) Which one? (3) Maybe the pink one (4) The one with the laces? (3) Of course (4) The one from our shop or the one from France? (3) I'ld say the French (4) Are you sure? (3) Quite sure (4) But he is going to draw it (3) Oh yes, I forgot .... maybe ours would be better. Let's have a drink. (4) Sure ... the one which is transparent I'ld think (3) Definitely! the most transparent of all!

This is followed by a discussion of stockings,suspenders, bras, slips, pearl necklaces and all the rest - each item is treated with great care. The girls turn round, they adjust, they doubt, does it look good, is it better this way or the other, and they assure each other over and over again that he will enjoy it.

The taxi-driver who takes them to the date deeply envies the happy young man who awaits them.

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