His series of works dedicated to St. Petersburg has a special colouring,
silver-blue hues conveying the magic of the citys white nights. The
subtle play of the light on the domes of cathedrals and on the surface of
the Neva and Finnish Bay waters. Wafts of wind are raising ripples on the
smooth surface of the river, stirring tree-tops, and scattering a whimsical
web of clouds over the city. The artist makes masterly use of mother-of-pearl,
which emits light through molten transparent surfaces, now shining on Petersburgs
roofs and windows like a farewell sunray, now underlining with satin and brocade
the splendour of dresses in the nostalgic images of fair ladies evoked by
the poetry of Pushkin and Blok.
Cigarette-case Post Office Bridge, 1999, 2 x 16 x 6 cm; box Cathedral of St. Nicholas, 1998, 2 x 16 x 6 cm; box View of the Exchange, 1997, 2 x 16 x 6 cm; cigarette-case View of the Church of the Saviour on Blood, 2000, 1.5 x 8 x 11 cm; cigarette-case View of the Admiralty, 2000, 1.5 x 8 x 11 cm; casket Blue Bridge, 1999, 3 x 4.5 x 10 cm; casket Strange Lady, 2001, 2.5 x 9 x 8 cm; casket In the Park, 2001, 2.5 x 5.5 x 13 cm.
Casket Northern Monastery, 1999, 2 x 11 x 7 cm.
An oval light-green casket. The monastery on the island has a channel on one side, separating it from the mainland; on the other side is the sea with gulls flying above. Two of them are caught in a sunray breaking though the sombre northern sky, their golden plumage shining. Golden splotches are touching here and there the domes of cathedrals and the roofs of peasant huts, gilding the top of a wooden fence, and falling on the ground like gossamer lace. Nothing is out of the ordinary: the anglers with fishing rods in a boat and the hunter with a dog strolling along the shore of the bay against the backdrop of a transparent, as though pulsating, air seem to take on a significance of their own.
Ornamental platter Peasant Lady, 2000, D-29 cm.
The platter was painted after Pushkins title novelette. The protagonists are pictured in the centre. They are surrounded by episodes of an intriguing love story. The story line: two neighbouring country gentlemen are at feud, and their grown-up children happen to fall in love with each other, putting an end to the old quarrel. The artist intertwines the narrative with numerous details of peasant life and customs. At centre bottom is a squireling with his friends engaged in a coursing; to the right, top-down, are the young masters amusements, a round dance with peasant girls; on the right hand, the young lady is accepting a countrywomans sarafan from her parlourmaid, into which she is going to change in order to pass herself off as a commoner. There are two parallel scenes on the sides: the peasant lady and the squireling meeting in the woods. And at centre top is the closing scenethe lovers rendezvous in the young ladys house, the neighbours reconciliation, and the lovers betrothal.
The landscape endows the miniature with loftiness, serving as a background for every scene in the story line. The artist achieves truly fantastic virtuosity in her graceful painting. The poetic quality and beauty of the narrative is what makes the artists work congenial to Pushkins source story.
Panel Wedding in Palekh, 2000, 2.5 x 39 x 32 cm.
The artist presents a wide panorama of village life: parents are blessing a bride-couple with an icon; behind them is a group of friends of the bride; countrywomen are gossiping behind the fence; relatives are equipping the wedding troika; a pod of bullfinches are sitting on and around a snow-covered arch; the priest is meeting the bride-couple at the church. In the centre of the panel are young countryfolk making merry with an accordionist. A dancing girl with a red flowing neckerchief merges into the general rhythm of the circular composition. Red clothes, red log huts and sledges, red horses and clusters of ashberries, the snow-clad roofs of log huts and crowns of trees, a white church, and fantastic birds in colourful plumage nested in a tree near the church as a symbol of happiness. The combination of red and white underlines the festive atmosphere of the proceedings and sounds like a bridal chorale.
Casket Pushkins Fairytales, 2000, 18 x 30 x 27 cm.
There are five miniatures in an opulent floral setting, painted upon a dark-cherry ground: The Tale of the Dead Tsarevna and the Seven Epic Heroes, The Tale of the Old Man and the Fish, and The Tale of the Golden Cockerel. Above each miniature there are border scenes showing the key characters of the fairytale: Tsarevich Guidon, the Old Man and the Goldfish, Tsar Dadon and the Stargazer with the Golden Cockerel, and Prince Yelisei. The casket lid illustrates the introductory verses of the poem Ruslan and Ludmila: the Poet sitting under an oak writing a poem, a Cat with a golden chain telling tales, a Mermaid sitting in an oak bough, and Baba-Yaga in her mortar aloft in the clouds. Ruslan is fighting with the Magician, the thirty-three Epic Heroes are emerging from the sea, the evil wizard Kashchei is pining over his hoarded gold, the Tsarevna is sitting in a dungeon, where the Grey Wolf is loyally serving her, and the Knights are galloping in search of Ludmila.
Plekhanovs works are narrative, their manner recalling the works of the great founding fathers of Palekh miniature painting--- D. N. Butorin, I.M. Bakanov, and A.V. Kotukhin.
Desk set Ruslan and Ludmila, 1999.
Board with an inkstand, 4 x 22 x 35 cm.
The board depicts A.S. Pushkin and the fairytale Cat under an oak, with the Mermaid in the crown, the thirty-three Epic Heroes emerging from the bosom of the sea, Ludmilas father, Prince Vladimir, handing a sword to Ruslan, the evil wizard Kashchei pining over his hoarded gold, and the Tsarevna with her loyal Grey Wolf. On the inkwell caps are Baba-Yaga and Ruslans combat with Chernomor the magician.
Pencil glass, 13 x 8 cm.
The miniature shows Chernomor the magician on his throne, his servants combing his beard, the source of all his magic power.
The paperweight shows Ratmir at the walls of a fairy town.
Paper holder, 19 x 9.5 x 13.5 cm.
The three plates depict the evil Wizard carrying a rapt Ludmila up in the clouds, Ruslans combat with the Giants Head, and Ruslan galloping home with Ludmila, the Wizard tied to his saddle behind his back.
Using the few articles that make up a writing set, the artist creates the complete imagery of Pushkins fairytale, dwelling on key characters and events, and enhancing our perception of the marvellous.
Casket Four Seasons, 1999, 12 x 18 x 12 cm.
There are five miniatures on the sides of the casket, the central subject being the love story of two young people.
1.Springtime. A boy is meeting a girl in the forest, and young love is born. The basket in the girls hand symbolises her first love. Around the pair there are scenes of peasant activities in the spring: plowing and the rigging of a boat.
2. Summer the time of loving. The centrepiece is the pair of lovers in a clearing, wearing crowns of flowers as symbols of mature love. Around them are pictures showing peasants summertime activities: mowing, stacking up, and the summer feast of Whitsunday, with girls singing and dancing round birches decorated with flowers.
3. Autumn the separation. The lovers have had a falling-out and parted. The surrounding scenes show peasants autumn activities: harvest, women carrying reaps, a peasant man is carting reaps of rye.
4. Wintertime the reconciliation. Young peoples merrymaking with an accordionist. The boy and the girl have made it up. A winter scene---a peasant in a sledge urging on his fast horse.
The casket lid shows the final, round-up scene---the end crowns the work. The young people are driving a troika for their church wedding. They are being met by young countryfolk with flowers and garlands.
Casket Nativity, 2000, 4.5 x 28 x 22 cm.
Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus in her lap is sitting on the porch of a vaulted pavilion with slim columns; at her left is Archangel Gabriel with a lily-flower in his hand; and at her right is Joseph sitting at the crib under the cupola of a basilica. The heads of Virgin Mary, the infant Jesus, Joseph, and Archangel Gabriel are surrounded by golden halos. An angel in the sky is holding the Star of Bethlehem, sending out the rays that announce the miracle of the birth of the Saviour. To the left and the right are the Magi carrying donations and placing them at Virgin Marys feet. On the left are travellers and shepherds near the wall of an ancient city, gazing at the Star, their gestures and expressive poses conveying their state of excited attention. On the right is an angel guiding the shepherds to Jesus birthplace.
The beauty of the colouring---the blend of various tints of red, blue, and gold---and the emotional narrative convey the feeling of the singularity of the event, the appearance of a miracle.
Kaleria and Boris Kukuliev
Triptych Our Land, 1980.
Central plate, 90 x 35 cm.
This is a three-part composition. The centrepiece is an old Russian city, which serves as a background for pictures of Russias three principal epic heroes. They are Ilya Muromets, Alesha Popovich, and Dobrynia Nikitich, the last one shown shooting from a bow at Zmei Gorynych, which eclipses the sun with its fire-spewing breath. Up above in the clouds, an epic hero is fighting with a magician. On the left is a hamlet with a white stone church; reapers are shown working in the field, and a group of peasants are hailing a flying wooden ship carrying their countrymen.
On the right is the peasant hero, Nikita Kozhemiaka, who can plow the land from sea to sea; above him is an ancient Russian city aflame, and a Russian army is pitted against a Tartar-Mongolian one. Up in the clouds, Ivan the Peasant Son is riding the Hunchbacked Horse toward the moon.
Two plates, Battle of Peresvet with Chelubei and Epic Hero Striking a Dragon with a Lance, 27 x 34.5.
The artists have combined fairytales, epics, and real historical events to create a holistic image of Russia.
Panel Shrovetide, 2001, 47 x 37 cm.
The Russian festival of Shrovetide, or Pancake Week, preceding Lent, is associated with the Old Slavic rite of winters send-off and spring meeting, as well as sun-worship. Expansive popular festivals are held during Pancake Week. The artist paints a broad picture of Shrovetide entertainment: driving troikas and tobogganing, tea-drinking with pancakes in the cold, bagel sellers, circus shows, crowds of people playing concertinos, horns, tambourines, and balalaikas, and the burning of a man of straw symbolising the magical forces of Winter, which are trying to prevent the coming of Spring. The miniature is full of irrepressible mirth and a mood of joyful expectation of the awakening of nature.
Casket Snegurochka, 19992000, 20 x 20 x 14 cm.
This attic-shaped casket with a secret drawer is painted with scenes from A.N.Ostrovskys play and N.A.Rimsky-Korsakovs opera of the same title. The lid depicts a festival of an old-time nation of Berendeys. In the sky is Yarila, the sun- and earth-god, shown in the sun-disc with a sheaf of wheat in his hands. The scenes on the casket sides: 1. The girl Snegurochka, the child of Spring and Frost, whose faces are gazing lovingly at her from tree crowns. Young Berendeys are surrounding Snegurochka, whom they have found in the woods. 2. The encounter of Snegurochka and Mizgir; young folk in a round dance; and Lel playing a pipe. 3. King Berendey is sitting in judgement. In front of him are Lubava, Mizgir, Lel, and Snegurochka. 4. Love is fatal for Snegurochka, who is thawing in the sun. Mizgir is trying to hold back his beloved. Young Berendeys and their king are watching this sad scene.
Casket Russian Fairytales, 1999, 14 x 22 x 12 cm.
The lid depicts a nuptial feast, which is the happy ending of most Russian fairytales. On the sides are miniatures on subjects of Russian fairytales: Frog-Princess, Geese-Swans, and Tsarevitch Ivan and the Grey Wolf.
Panel Last Supper, 2001, 30 x 24 cm.
This is light-scarlet oval panel. The miniature is painted on a ground of gold, with a floral pattern running along the rim, which has centrally positioned crosses in circles. The soft colouring of various shades of scarlet, blue, and green, and the continuous outlines of the personages convey a mood of unaccountable sorrow and uneasy expectation.
Panel Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, 2001, 38 x 30 cm.
A black oval panel. The border scenes of a Palekh icon, «Acaphistus to the Saviour, inspired this composition. It is painted on a ground of gold in soft scarlet and various shades of green. The inscription under the miniature, made in Old Slavonic ligature, says, The Entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.
The artist work has been greatly influenced by Ivan Golikov.
Casket Pushkins Fairytales, 1988, 15 x 32 x 32 cm.
A monumental crimson casket. The central circle on the lid depicts the magician Chernomor carrying a rapt Ludmila, and surrounding it is a forest landscape and four representations of Ruslan riding on horseback. Beyond the central circle there are five roundels with subjects from the poem Ruslan and Ludmila: The Knights Head and Ruslan, Ruslan and Chernomor, Ruslan Fighting Rogday, Ruslan with the Elder, and Ruslan with Ludmila on Their Way Home. On the sides there are 11 miniatures in oval roundels with scenes from Pushkins fairytales, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, The Tale of the Dead Tsarevna and the Seven Epic Heroes, The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish, and The Tale of the Golden Cockerel.
Plate Easter in Palekh, 1999, 1.5 x 25 x 30 cm.
This is a retrospective view of Easter celebrations in Palekh. The composition is in three tiers: in the foreground, against an architectural backdrop, there is a peasant chamber. The entire family is gathered around the table with a paschal repast: Easter cakes, paskha, painted eggs, and wine vessels. Country-folk at the gate are congratulating one another on the holy feast. In the middle distance, a priest at the church gate is blessing parishioners. The background shows a broad panorama of Palekh churches and cathedrals in the outskirts. The melodious rhythm of high and supple trees with stylised fan-like crowns merges into the general festive melody of the miniature. The soft scarlet of its architecture, decorated with a magnificent floral ornament, and a flock of snow-white birds flying about in the sun, which is sending forth benign light upon an ancient icon-like hamlet, conveys the solemnity and joy of the proceedings.
Casket Sadko, 2000, 12 x 14 x10.5 cm.
The light-brown colour of this attic-shaped casket forms the background of several miniatures after the motives of the Russian epic of Sadko, the merchant of Novgorod. The monochrome painting, somewhat lighter than the background, imparts depth and a three-dimensional quality to the imagery. The side planes carry several images. A wharf in Novgorod. Sadko, his gusli slung over the shoulder, is wining with his friends in a boat, as casks of wine are being carried on the quayside. A young woman with a child is watching them. Overhead are the domes of Novgorod cathedrals. Sadkos clash with nomads on the Dnieper rapids. Sadko and his comrades in India. Two elephants, with a Rajah mounted on the back of one, and a caged Bird of Wonder on the back of the other. Sadko is merchandising on the wharf of an Italian city. On the casket lid, Sadko is showing his friends a goldfish he has caught in Lake Ilmen.
Casket Battle of Poltava, 2000, 7.5 x 12 x 8 cm.
The casket is shaped like an antique dresser with a drawer in the lower part and three compartments in the main part.
On the lid is a roundel with a portrait of Peter I, shown with a spyglass against the background of the Peter and Paul Fortress. The downside of the lid depicts the battle of Poltava, 1709: the Russian army under Peter Is command is defeating the Swedish army, commanded by Charles XII. On the three lids of three compartments of the main part there are images of three unmounted Russian soldiers and a cavalryman. The lid of the bottom drawer shows the field after the battle: a soldier is sounding the last post, and a dead soldier is lying near a cannon, his steed mournfully leaning over his fallen master.
Casket Boris Godunov, 2000, 12 x 13 x 9.5 cm.
A red attic-shaped casket. Boris Godunov (1552-1605), a Russian tsar since 1958, was rumoured to have assassinated Tsarevitch Dimitry, the rightful heir to the Russian throne. The lid miniature depicts Boris Godunov filled with horror at the sight of an Angel with a bowl of sacrificial blood, which reminds him of his enormous crime; boyards are conversing in whispers in a vaulted chamber. The casket sides have views of Moscow, with flocks of crows as a symbol of misfortunes in the offing. At the corners are figures of warders with pole-axes and arquebuses. In Cathedral Square, a Gods fool wearing fetters is accusing the Tsar of the murder of an innocent boy.
Casket Sorochintsy Fair, 2000, 6.8 x 11.5 x 6.5 cm.
The casket is painted, in monochrome upon a ground of dark silver, after stories by N. V. Gogol (1809-1852). On the lid, a square frame encloses the central scene depicting, in soft greenish and ochroid hues, country-folk returning from a trade fair: a wagon pulled by two bullocks carries a young woman and an old one with a basket in her hand, from which a pair of geese are struggling out; a piglet is trotting after the wagons, and a peasant is walking barefoot, carrying his high boots on a stick, to save them from wearing down. On the sides of the central scene there are two moujiks, one holding a pandora, the other shown with his arms outspread in a greeting.
The casket sides picture: 1 -- a housewife turning out a hog and a cock from the yard. In the centre is a rendezvous of two lovers, with a sexton spying upon them from behind the fence; 2 two peasant women quarrelling near a fence, an empathetic goat with a very funny muzzle standing nearby; 3 a villager with purchases returning from the fair; a goose in its mistresss basket hissing at a dog; another villager drinking and lunching under a tree; and a cock looking on with some interest; 4 two peasants in a heated dispute. The casket lid depicts a dancing hog, while people, a cock, and a cat are running, terror-stricken, away.
The artist is very good at creating psychological portraits of his characters, masterfully rendering them through the plastics of their figures and their emotional interrelations.
Casket Tale of the Sleeping Tsarevna, 2000, 16 x 13 x 9.5 cm.
The casket is shaped like a locker with opening shutters, behind which are three drawer-shaped compartments. They have miniatures painted on them, showing the menials of a palace. A prince and a princess are painted on the locker shutters. Along the top of the casket is a prince galloping through a primeval forest. Just below the shutters there is another drawer with a picture of a winged serpent. The back wall of the casket shows the palace with a sleeping princess inside, whom the prince arouses from her sleep with a kiss; all around them are flittering fairies. On the palace roof, a youth is lassoing a winged serpent. The locker sides: on the left are the parents of the princess, who is falling asleep having pricked herself with a spindle. Above is an old lady at a distaff; the princess is born, and the fairies are bringing her various presents. The lassoing of the winged serpent is repeated three times, as a symbol of victory over evil.
Casket Creation, 1999, 24.5 x 8 cm.
This light-scarlet casket is shaped like a church with an onion-shaped cupola, with representations of stars, comets, the moon, and the sun. On its four sides are scenes of Gods creation of the earth. God is shown on the frontal part above Chaos, and underneath are Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The other sides depict the creation of the firm ground and the water together with the creatures inhabiting them.
Casket Etude, 2000, 2.5 x 7 x 6 cm.
Casket Canzonet, 2000, 2.5 x 9 x 8 cm.
The artist has created a series of graceful miniatures with retrospective scenes from the gallant age: cavaliers serenading under the balconies of beautiful women, rendezvous in romantic arbours entwined with fancy flowers, musicians in period dresses and white wigs playing various instruments in beautifully and romantically decorated rooms.
The artist is a master of little sketches. Her miniature scenes are vivid with charm, intimacy, joie de vivre, and the ease and naturalness of communication.