“Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.P.s:” Artist talk at Blue Door Gallery

June 27th, 2012

Recently, I gave an artist talk at Blue Door Gallery in the Artists’ District of Yonkers, NY.  I spoke about the newest painting in my PLAYGROUND OF THE AUTOCRATS series, which tells stories about Russian history in pictures.  Below are some photographs of the talk.

Bobroff-Hajal painting, sketches of Ivan the Terrible face

Right: Audience teases “When did you shave your beard?” as I show them my sketches for Ivan the Terrible’s face, because I posed for it myself in my bathroom mirror. Left: My final painting of Ivan (Detail of “Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.P.s.”)

Bobroff-Hajal artist talk: Ivan the Terrible

Responding to an audience question about my  process of creating this panel, “Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.Ps.”

Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.P.s is the first panel in what will become a 5-paneled work – a pentaptych – entitled Darling Godsonny Stalin (Ivan the Terrible Advises the Infant Stalin).  The completed pentaptych will playfully tell the tragic story of Russian rulers’ recurring terror against their own people, from Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) to Stalin, who caused the deaths of upwards of 20 million innocent Russians.

I believe the past is godparent to the present, and that landscape and environment are godparent to all.  One way I visualize this in my art is via my fantasy of Ivan the Terrible as one of Stalin’s godparents.  You can see Ivan singing to the infant Stalin in the top of the panel above.

Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.P.s is about Ivan the Terrible’s relationship to his nobility before he began his terror against them.  (For more, see Ivan the Terrible: Madman or Crazy Like a Fox?)

Detail Bobroff-Hajal: Ivan the Terrible & noble clans

Ivan the Terrible lived within a “spider’s web” of noble clans, whose “aristocratic pretensions could not fail to come into conflict with the autocratic aspirations of the first Russian tsar.”

To become a true autocrat, Ivan had to cut his way free of a “spider’s web” of powerful aristocratic clans.

Russian Nobility under Ivan IV

Russian noble clans sometimes formed marriage alliances and sometimes fought each other as they vied for influence with the tsar.  Detail of my painting “Your Grasping, Scheming VIPs.”

Sweet dreams, baby Stalin….

Bobroff-Hajal painting: Ivan the Terrible & Stalin as infant

Stalin’s godfather, Ivan the Terrible, flies on a broom topped with a severed dog’s head – both Ivan’s symbols of his Terror against his own people.

5 Responses to ““Your Grasping, Scheming V.I.P.s:” Artist talk at Blue Door Gallery”

  1. Marie McCann says:

    It looks like it was a wonderful event–I’m sorry I couldn’t be there! The beauty of the art speaks for itself, but it’s always interesting to hear you speak about the meaning of your images.

  2. Thanks so much, Marie. We talked about how I’d used color to differentiate the aristocratic clans and their lower & higher families, etc – the audience added to that, and it was really rewarding.

  3. Hi Anne,

    your paintings look amazing! It’s been too long again since I saw you–with Donna G. in Pittsburgh. You didn’t mention then that you were painting. Is this fairly new?

    I’m writing from Bucharest. I’m currently the president of the Soc. for Romanian Studies and we’re having a big conference in Sibiu July 2-4. I’ll be back in Pittsburgh Aug 1 after three weeks in Paris.

    Hope all is well with all of you–Irina

  4. Irina, so great to hear from you in Bucharest! Yes, I read your Wikipedia page when I was getting your email address. Congratulations on being president of the Society for Romanian Studies! I grew up planning to be an artist but I was pushed so hard that I rebelled by going into Russian history. Have long searched for a way to combine the two, and seem to have found it. I’d love to see you when you’re back in the States. Are you ever in NY? Anne

  5. robert says:

    Your work is wonderful and you are obviously an animated and inspiring teacher. Hope to see you soon this summer

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