Fine art

A life steeped in Fechin

Russian scholar from the artist's hometown spoke at Taos Art Museum

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/27/18

Galina Tuluzakova lives in Kazan, Russia, the birthplace of Nicolai Fechin, an artist who wound up making an indelible impression on the history of art in Taos.She started out in …

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Fine art

A life steeped in Fechin

Russian scholar from the artist's hometown spoke at Taos Art Museum

Posted

Galina Tuluzakova lives in Kazan, Russia, the birthplace of Nicolai Fechin, an artist who wound up making an indelible impression on the history of art in Taos.

She started out in the field of finance although she "never worked a day in a financial institute." She fell in love with art history after taking a class as part of her finance curriculum.

"It's a miracle. You're sitting in a dark room and you see people from different cultures and countries," she said. "The moment I graduated from Financial Institute. The museum said they could take me on as a volunteer. It was fantastic. Every day I opened something new."

It took her another three years to get into the advanced studies program at St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from, from which she graduated in 1993 and where she received her doctorate in 1999. During that time, a major focus of her study was the life and work of Nicolai Fechin.

Tuluzakova is in Taos this week and gave a talk Wednesday (Sept. 26) at the Fechin House at Taos Art Museum, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. She spoke about the artist and offered insight on what she has gleaned from decades of studying the artist.

She describes the moment she chose to study Fechin.

It happened after an academic committee meeting where she was discouraged from pursuing a direction toward contemporary art. "My husband Ilra was standing next me with our young son Stephen, hanging from his neck," she said. "He looked at me and said, 'Why not Fechin?'"

She said she was reluctant to take on an artist who was famous in her country and abroad, but with her husband's encouragement she did. After years of examining Fechin's work and his life she said, "With him (Fechin) I grew in my understanding in the general laws of life." When she was asked by a colleague in Russia, "You think you'll finish this theme of Fechin?" She responded, "No, it's endless; it is endless."

Tuluzalova said what distinguishes Fechin from other artists of his generation was his "ability to combine concrete and exact knowledge, the knowledge so deep it allows him to be so free and spontaneous. He had a huge artistic temperament."

She continues, "His education in prerevolutionary Russia was very high. The curriculum was rigorous. They worked with anatomy and composition, and he studied for nine years total (at the Imperial Academy of Arts.) Every time I read something during my studies about the artist, there was a dissonance from what I read and what I saw. This intrigued me to question what is this, and what is so different?"

The choice of Fechin eventually led to a Fulbright Scholarship in 2002, visits to the United States, the opportunity to study in New Mexico and her first visit to Taos. She said as part of her doctorate program, "It was always a dream to see the Fechin House, but it was impossible to get a visa and visit the United States -- from 1985 there was Perestroika, (a political movement in the 1980s and 90s that was the catalyst for reformation within the communist party) and the USSR was destroyed. A lot of things changed which created the possibility."

Tuluzakova described Taos as a town "so comfortable. It is everything wonderful … landscape, nature, architecture … it is a city at the same time it is a village, and it has its own place in the history of art. I read about it, but never imagined it. It was another world. I could not forget this impression."

In her talk, she covered Fechin's influences as an artist, which include his childhood, geographic locations, his time of study from 1901 to 1909 at The Imperial Academy of Arts and the political upheavals in Russia. Tuluzakova has seen Fechin's work in museums all over the world, but said, "His house (in Taos) is the best place. Everything is in harmony: the texture of the walls and the texture of the paintings. I know museums must be alive and I see the Fechin House is alive."

Tuluzalova said she has another book in the works about Fechin's architecture, sculpture, woodwork, ceramics and metal works.

Her talk was part of the Taos Art Museum at Fechin House "Taos Treasures" series of presentations, that according to the museum's website, is designed to "explore the gems of our community, highlighting the richness and diversity of the talent found here, both past and present."

Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House is located at 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For more information on future events, call (575) 758-2690, ext. 101 or email frontdesk@taosartmuseum.org to reserve your seat.

Editor's note: This article in Tempo's print edition published Thursday (Sept. 27) included the incorrect date for the event. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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