CHOICE OF HEART
Hendrik Beikirch has finished working on his mural, which is a giant monochrome portrait of Magnezit resident, Viktor Bazhenov. The day before that, on August 12, the painter met the subject of his new masterpiece in the Magnezit Museum.
The meeting was attended not only by representatives of the Satka Media, but also by everyone interested in works of the German painter who has come to Satka for the third time. School student Vasily Suslov, who became a friend of Hendrik's earlier in 2018, when the master of monochrome photo-realistic works created his first work in Satka (mural “Maria and Anna” on the face of building No. 23 on Metallurgov Street), was also attending. The children who together with Vasily took part in the Satka Dreamville project which was a continuation of friendship between the world-famous painter and the kids interested in street art and painting, were present as well. The worker of Magnezit mine, Viktor Bazhenov, came to the meetine together with his daugter, Ekaterina, who graduated from Yu. A. Rozum’s Children Art School No. 1. It could be seen that they were very nervous and shy under the attention, but soon the Q&A interview turned into a very warmhearted friendly conversation which was simple and honest.
There were many questions to be answered, for instance, Viktor was very interested about the project’s background and the selection criteria of the painter: why it was him and no one else to be chosen to look over the town and the residents from the height of a 9-storey building.
As it turned out, their first meeting was in the Magnezit mine. Several days prior to starting his work Hendrik traveled in search of the protagonist for his painting through the production site of the Magnezit Group.
“I believe that it is not me who is choosing the protagonists, but they choose me. I am grateful for the opportunity to visit the production site, to talk with the workers of the company and choose the one I preferred with my heart. I am grateful to Viktor for his trust and the honor of painting his portrait, for agreeing to take a photo and participating in the project”, said Hendrik.
“We noticed you when you were going to work”, explained Valeria Tsoi, a coordinator of cultural projects in the Sobranie Fund. “We visited the mine during many shifts, we looked, talked and searched. Some people rushed past us too quickly and we had no opportunity to talk. We are very thankful and happy, that you were the one to stop and listen to what we had to say. Hendrik noticed you as early as you left the bus, he took a photo, and after making an acquaintance, he chose you. We prepared everything to start the work and only then found out that you took part in another project. It turned out that at the start of July you were photographed by Ivan Kurinnoi for the exhibition “Satka: City Code”. As coincidence would have it, authors of very different projects got interested in the same people – you and Boris, a security officer who was drawn by Hendrik in 2019 on a large canvas which were later shown at exhibitions in Europe. Two painters, one from Germany, one from Moscow, noticed you with their artistic vision, and we believe that it is no accident.”
Waking Up as a Celebrity
“I thought everything will end with a few photos, but some people even ask for a signature now”, smiled Viktor. “I never thought it will get this serious”
“And who was the first to tell you, that you were painted? How did you react?” someone asked Viktor.
“It was about 10 in the morning, I went back after a night shift and was just about to sleep when I got a call from my leader, Pavel Nefiodov, he lives in the house neighboring the mural. I could hear he was very excited as he said “Vitya, I think you are being painted on the house! Did you hear me? I can’t describe in words! You need to see this! I think this is because you were photographed at that time!” He rushed to tell me and sent a photo. When I looked I recognized my hardhat, helmet, then my eyes. And in the evening I received a new photo with the face fully painted, that was when I believed it was truly me. I was very shocked, of course.”
“That’s the case of waking up a celebrity!” replied the guests.
“To be honest, I have not seen the completed painting yet. Today is foggy, and yesterday the bus which I ride to work shuttled through the street very quickly. My mother can see the painting from her window, as she lives a few floors below. She liked it very much. My younger brother brought her to the place to say: “Look, Mom, it's your son being painted!” She was very happy and took a few photos with the painting.”
“Hendrik noticed your mother and brother, he said the resemblance is uncanny”, added Valeria. “And yesterday a granny approached us and asked “Is it Vitya Bazhenov? I know him”.
“There are already a lot of people who know me, and now the entire Satka will know. I don’t know how to leave the house now”, joked the miner.
While answering the questions of the meeting participants Hendrik shared that he created another work in a place which became important to him (23, Metallurgov St.), and the people living there, the atmosphere of the place and everything going on there became close and cherished. He fell in love not only with the place where he started to work in 2018, but also with the whole Satka, where he met wonderful people. That is why he was glad to return and continue to work there.
“Was the idea to return an old one, or was the recent visit due to the Year of Germany?” was the next question.
“I can compare myself to a boomerang, because I like to return to the places where I’ve worked before. Every time I finish one project I start to think about the next one. And the project in Satka in not an exception. On the one hand, the year being declared a Year of Germany in Russia helped be a lot, but on the other hand, due to the well-known reasons, it was hard to come, do the planning, etc. That’s why I am very grateful to the Sobranie Fund for their help and support.”
“Satka is not the only small town where you have completed two works in the same place?”
“No, but Satka is a bit special, I have already described my feelings about this unique town. And here is the first time I’ve completed two works on the face on the same building”, said the painter.
“This case is truly a unique one: two Hendrik's murals on one building is an exclusive privilege. They also have different topics: one is about family and connection of generations, and the other is about the town of steelworkers and people working here”, added Valeria Tsoi.
To Work by Hand
“If you watch the chronological video of your work frame by frame, it might seem that it is not you who is working in the cradle moving along the wall, but a jet printer is printing the image. Today there are technologies allowing to make a painting on the wall using a printer. If you get an offer to transfer your sketch using such a technique, would you agree?
“To compare the process of mural creation with the work of a printer is part of the history of the artistic project, cooperation between people and the town. Indeed the crane has to move like a jet printer due to technical reasons (from left to right, a little bit down, then again from left to right). But on the other hand, this is a separate history of creating new masterpieces, when all starts from mystery, first sketches, then everything becomes clearer and clearer, and a face appears. And even observation of such work is its own separate story. A story of empathy, which is probably well matched with the feelings from the final result. All of this includes an essential factor of the painter interacting with the town where he works. In this case, I like to draw a parallel between my work and Viktor’s work, where he works by hand a lot. That’s why I would never agree to create a painting using a printer. Working by hand and feeling the special connection to the protagonist is important for me as well.”
Hendrik continued the topic of a laborer noting that nowadays, when the world continues to provide works involving a computer or with minimum application of manual labor, hard labor and high-responsibility jobs, like the one fulfilled by Viktor in the mine, are very appreciated and respected.
While answering the question whether Satka allowed Hendrik to get acquainted with painters who he would continue to communicate with or meet at exhibitions and festivals, he answered that he met a lot of future painters. He was very interested in their future works. Especially future works of Vasiliy, who came to the meeting.
“I will look forward to his new works”, said Hendrik. “I am grateful to Satka – a town where I get positive experiences, where I feel comfortable and which I like with all my heart.”
And new works of the young painters appeared quite soon. Hendrik suggested to his little friends to try out being true painters and literally have a hand in his own work, though only on paper. The kids took color markers and decorated the monochrome Magnezite resident portrait not only with their bold fantasies, but also with details very important in Hendrik's opinion. For example, they added a background of dynamic sky and mountains on the horizon. And some of the kids created their own bright message in pop-art style. Many future painters added a logo of the Magnezit Group to the special clothes of the miner.
It was planned that some features of the children's works would be transferred to Hendrik’s work, but only in case Viktor Bazhenov agreed with one of the proposed versions. As a result the portrait remained as it was created by the painter. “This is a complex, delicate and beautiful creation of a master. I cannot bring myself to add anything more, it would be excessive”, said Viktor. He did look through all of the children’s painting, and had a long discussion about some of them with the author of his portrait. Moreover, Hendrik gifted the original and monochrome photos used to create the mural to the Magnezit resident together with a copy of his new book and souvenirs with the symbols of Year of Germany in Russia. In the end, the most precious gift for Viktor was this amazing adventure: a meeting with the painter, participation in his project, and for all the participants – it was the unforgettable evening and the heartfelt discussion.
Source: Magnezitovets. Photo by Denis Shakirov, Vasily Maksimov.
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