It was published in German in 1982 in the newspaper "Info 3"
Raimond Zoller took interview
Interview with Valery Valius
Valery Valius, 43 years old, in the past was scientist, the geophysicist. He has emigrated from the USSR in 1977. Now he lives in Munich. It emigration he has taken out pictures of the father, Pjotr Adamovich Valius (1912 - 1971). He makes efforts to show its to spectators in the West. Pictures of P.A.Valius are concentrated certificate from modern Russia, a part of universal art.
Question: Why you, when you have emigrated, have taken out pictures of the father?
Answer: There are a lot of reasons. First - impossibility to show them on the native land. Authorities have closed a studio where it was possible to show its some time privately, and hopes for other opportunities were absent.
Besides the new law "About protection of values of history and culture" has threatened existence of private collections. The law Became valid from 1st March 1976.
It includes in definition "values" both pictures, and manuscripts. And if "value" is stored incorrectly, say, in living room (for the lack of other), or " is used not to destination ", for example, the uncontrolled spectator comes (and "value" too uncontrolledly influences him!) the collection can be confiscated.
And certainly - illusions concerning the West. Many people have a lot of illusions, contrary to the Soviet propagation. Including, me. Partly the West created its, intentionally or sincerely not noticing, that its correspond to the reality a little.
Question: What illusions?
Answer: For example, and it only one example, the West names itself "free". Freedom in the USSR is understood as an opportunity to do unlawful (and punishable) independent from how philosophers and ideologists unscrewed this word. In perfected formulation of Zinovjev: "Freedom is a step from the chamber to ditch". And people dream not about ditch, but about free West with other laws, they struggle for the right to leave and go. I speak now not about the swindlers dreaming about unlawful who, however, go too. The purposes at emigrants, and them now are millions in the world, very different. But when the purpose is not usual, but unique, originating from other, former life as I some times here met, (and myself with pictures of the father am in such situation) years of vain efforts and despair are ensured. When I have emigrated, neither I, nor my native or familiar did not expect it. Certainly, the objective information about the West reaches Soviet Union, besides propagation from the Soviet or western side, for example, as a fiction. But to believe, that the book, an invention of the author, is not a particular, it is not thin noticed tendency, but a reality expecting you which neither to bypass, nor to go round is impossible, to believe that, being in Soviet Union, difficultly. I recollect in Germany more often others "Castel" of Kafka. Thank God, that not "Process".
Well, and a principal cause of export were pictures itself. I am not the madman who "reveres memory of the father" beyond the scope of reasonable. He is buried, a monument is on a tomb. These pictures are the important part of human culture. It is necessary to keep it and show. The first is realizable in the West. It is not to live here. And for pictures not dangerous. To show - it is more difficult.
Question: You can tell something about pictures?
Answer: Its were already described - the whole pack of articles from newspapers and magazines. My mother - she is the writer - described its in the thick novel too. And I wrote about pictures, when thought that enough to publish their description and you would get many offers of exhibitions. But I was mistaken. The organization of exhibitions is not expectation, but actions.
In the most general features it is possible to tell about pictures, for example, the following: the life has such property - inexplicable, suddenly, it can be condensed up to high intensity in works of the artist. And pictures work as transfer of ideas and feelings, as a life in its true extent. The person requires such food for mind and heart.
Question: Participated your father in exhibitions in the USSR?
Answer: The father earned for a life as designer of books. He was was members of the Union of artists and the participant practically all exhibitions of books.
Another matter is his painting. In the USSR pictures on exhibitions pass Art councils. Works of the father were confidently rejected. They even approximately mismatch frames of "socialist realism". However, the father tried not often - it was not meaningful. But he has two exhibitions in 1968. Both in the closed institutes, at chemists and at atom-physicists. One lasted three days, another 10 days. Without Art councils, without advertising, for employees of institutes, under the initiative and on own risk of organizers. Chemists had even a discussion and even visitors from outside were passed on these exhibitions, though reception of such sanction spoiled nerves.
And one more exhibition in studio - before he died and after death. In 1970 - last year of life - when the father was already sick (the diagnosis - cancer), he has received a studio. In a cellar, people lived there earlier. While repair was made, rooms were prepared for work, it became clear that just to work there will not be possible. The father died. On 3rd December 1970 his works were hung up on walls and doorsof the studio were opened for all comers. A lot of people were there, there was a dense crowd the whole days. It was the true recognition. The father was brought there once, and he saw it. May be this success, informal, but genuine (people brought the friends, those theirs, etc.), promoted that the father last month worked much, practically without forces and intensively as never. Has written the last 9 canvases. In February he has died.
We continued to show his works in a studio 4,5 years after his death already once a week. In the autumn, in the winter in day happened about 200 spectators. In the summer in 10 times less. Then a studio was closed without an explanation of the reason. A door was cracked with police. We have taken out pictures in advance.
Question: You had a discussion at institute of chemists . How it passed?
Answer: Contribution for discussion were prepared from the different parties. The first spoke writers - the invited visitors - Bortchagovsky, Kopelev. They spoke about pictures, about destiny of the artist and have set the general respectable tone. There were also offensive statements, unfair and indemonstrable, I remember two young men. Both spoke approximately so: "We already saw all this. It is not new, not interesting. Repetition of 20th years. Store of a Tretyakov gallery and Russian museum are full with much stronger works". As though other present, including the artist, could happen to be in these stores. And may be its are not so full? Or contain absolutely other works? Now, having got acquainted better with critics and «tricks», I would carry these young men to the category "critics in the civilian" so name employees of KGB working in area of art but then their statements have struck me.
Question: How it was possible to take pictures abroad?
Answer: Legally, when I have emigrated. I has taken them with me. I did not think, that I shall take them, that it is possible. Rules then were such, they vary from time to time: it was authorized to take 3 canvases or 6 graphics.
Works are estimated by the commission of experts which define, that they "art and historical value do not represent", the person pays 100 % of the duty, i.e. their cost, in Ministery of cultures seal "It is authorized to export". Now imagine, that the artist leaves and wishes to take with himself not 3, but 30 or 300 works, he painted its all life and had no opportunity to sell. The epithet "art value do not represented" we shall leave apart, suppose, it was possible to become, but where to get money, to pay own work of a life? In connection with departure of artists there were the scandals accompanied sometimes, unfortunately, by damage of works by transportation. And discussed by the western press, and to it the Soviet authorities are sensitive. Also besides the general rules when I leaved, were still special rules. In special cases it was authorized to take more than 3 works, it was necessary to pay big, but nevertheless the accessible sum. Many people assisted me to appear to with pictures of the father a special case . But why somewhere in deciding instance was told "To let out", I, nevertheless, do not know. I think, that is obliged not only to direct efforts, but also to struggle of the artists who have left earlier, and informal popularity of pictures, and potential opportunity to get in the western press. And, certainly, my mother who kept works and who, besides all efforts, has still paid export. She had published a book then about artists including the father, - "The Happy person" - work of last 7 years, and the fee for the book were spent for export of pictures, and my departure.
Question: What destiny of these pictures in the West? What do you do with them? Whether they make success here?
Answer: I keep it. Basically its stand at my home with
faces to a wall. Besides I arrange exhibitions. A difference with Moscow
huge. What is the monthly exhibition here with the announcement in the
newspaper and invitation cards: people come basically on an opening day,
approximately 40 visitors - it is event of a public life, an opportunity to
see people, to invite friends, to talk, at the same time to look pictures.
And then 0-5 spectators in day. I.e. the monthly exhibition here, in
comparison with Moscow is less, than one day in a studio. There are no
spectators here. In the summer in Moscow people came in a studio
poorly too. It is possible to say, that Germany is the country of eternal
summer. Or otherwise, that in a scale of values of the western person art
plays the unenviable role. And the western Europeans are proud of the
culture for the every possible reasons, but not because art for them is
Destiny of pictures before emigration - refusal of Art councils to expose its and a stream of visitors in a studio - depend on pictures. The arrangement of exhibitions depends here basically on the alien reasons which practically do not relate to works itself.
And even those spectators who visit exhibition, look at pictures with other eyes.
Question: In what you see a difference in perception of pictures in the USSR and in the West?
Answer: Well the best spectators, with direct perception and response are rare enough both there, and here. Just as the worst, with rude loud remarks like: "Botched work of the madman" or similar to the person who has written in the visitors' book: "I do not understand, not accept, I object". It is possible to meet much more often if not understanding, at least respect, sympathy and desire to assist with the arrangement of following exhibitions. However, people thus often overestimate the opportunities.
But more often I heard: "Why such aggressive colors? Why pictures disturb? What for it was necessary for the artist?" Or so: "It is a lot of suffering and misfortune in the world, it would be desirable to see lighter art and more joyful art". And certainly: "I cannot hang up these pictures at home". Or: "If he could not sell, what for wrote?"
In Moscow it happened to hear similar too, but incomparable less often. To explain in such cases means only to poison own soul, that I did, however, many times.
They really do not understand freedom of the artist as destiny as a calling. Freedom here is understood as insurance. With money, property, police, law, I do not know still than. In actions insurance of each step turns around the requirement of convertibility, an opportunity to win back. I think such understanding of freedom explains many features of the western life. Here examples: "The Real politics can be any, but should be capable at any moment to leave, change or find the partner", "Emancipated woman can be any, but should be capable at any moment to leave, change or find the partner ". In relation to business, trade it is not difficult to make similar phrases. And to art which is defined as the goods in the market of pleasures.
I was surprised also that many people in the West prefer to direct perception the information at second hand, checked up by the people put to those. They take books and read as schoolers, and after that Rembrandt - "we studied it" and Picasso - "Who had 3 wives". And if at an exhibition the explanatory text is hung out, usually sequence is such: at first to the text, then to pictures.
I do not abuse the West. As it is possible! Beautiful, rich, occupied and called "free". It is looked at with hope from the east. People fight there in prohibitions of the Soviet system and think, that in the West it would be easier - simply easily - in fact that they wish to make is so necessary. I wish to note only a pun, error in translation. Words «the free West» would be more correct to translate approximately so: in "free world" an opportunity of the person are limited of banal.
Question: Have art critics helped you somehow?
Answer: Critics holding high enough posts, are people, certainly, thin, clever, dear, well educated. And that respect for them did not confuse us, I shall give an easier example. Imagine the house painter, the professional who whitewash ceilings. Do you think, he wishes to whitewash all ceilings which require under repair? He did not see the peeled ceilings? But if the order, work or friends have asked, then an another matter, and he will show a high class. Similarly critics. They did not see pictures? But if the order, we shall tell - "to knock down" or - "to uplift", then an another matter and they will show a class. It is difficult not to find the critic, but person who can tell to the critic: "It is necessary, Fedja". And still I met also critics at whom interest to pictures was big, and opportunity small.
Question: But many exhibitions of these pictures have been organized already in the West. How?
Answer: Commercial galleries have fallen off. They are interested in sale of pictures and though collectors are wishing to buy some works, I have no moral right to separate a collection on private owners. Except for that these pictures are for museums, the most part of works really "at home you will not hang up". For me it has appeared possible to arrange exhibitions in the places which have been not intended for an exposition of pictures: in streets, at schools, cafe, insurance societies, conference halls, clubs. One exhibition was even in the castel. A fine hall. Unfortunately, it was very damp.
Such opportunities are not present in the USSR. I perceive existence of this layer of opportunities here as a miracle. It is thin, fragile, almost private and exists not everywhere. For example: in Stuttgart in the street I have received the sanction for an one-day exhibition during a quarter of hour. The sanction for a similar exhibition in Leonberg was a result of 2 monthly correspondences. In Munich reception of the sanction was delayed for 8 months. Partly on my fault - first refusal puzzled me and I have interrupted efforts for some time.
And the places intended for exhibitions, are inaccessible. First I went, then began to write letters. In museums, showrooms, the unions of artists and similar places of Germany, and sometimes in other countries. In general more than hundred letters. Positive answers were not. The system of culture - a network of establishments - well protects itself from pictures of unknown to them artist.
I do not know, how these establishments work, in what conditions and by what rules are engaged, yes, it is not interesting to me. They did not helped to show pictures, hundreds other people did that instead, with their personal participation, without receiving of money for it, and often spending the last. To ask official art workers about the help - waste of time. They do not carry out an essence of the work - neither in the USSR, nor in the West.
Despaired enough, I have written the letter to chancellor Schmidt with the request for the help. There was just a transfer on TV how he loves art. Reaction to the letter was encouraging and has surpassed my expectations. The chancellor and his wife have invited me to Bonn to an opening day of an exhibition of German artists. Certainly, I have gone and was awarded among approximately other 400 visitors to hear the chancellor with own ears and to see him with own eyes. Besides it I received official letters as my business moved on instances. Last letter has come from instance №6, including from chancellor, with advice " to act under own initiative and to count only on own forces". And with a wish of success, certainly.
Question: What is the purpose of your efforts?
Answer: Walls for pictures. Five-minute business, in essence, to which I was casually put by destiny.