Tag Archives: Geneva

Happy New Year!

Seasonal greetings to all my readers, friends, and even to over a thousand visitors who ended up on this blog googling “nude white women standing facing forward” (I hope antique Venuses you were likely to find here provided an adequate reference if not the desired thrills).

I wish you all a year full of creativity, new art finds, ancient art history revelations, and – to the “forward-looking” thousand of guests – to discover the “three quarters” angle.

I have seen precious little art and read nothing but labels since December, travelling through Geneva to the French Alps and lamenting global warming along the way. If you doubt it exists, go visit glaciers or rather places where glaciers used to be a mere decade ago.

In fact, Geneva should run a referendum of relegating December from winter to late summer.

It’s serene, green, and ticks life away as a $2m tourbillon watch locked in a safe deposit box in an underground bank vault. Geneva is great to visit if you need a few peaceful days, but many of its residents complain it becomes too peaceful in about two weeks of living there, when life starts resembling the said bank vault, but without the money being stacked high all around.

I am sure in terms of art Geneva could benefit from an injection of creative steroids. The only exhibition I enjoyed (out of the two I visited) was a tiny show of Apocalypse graphics in the Art and History Museum, where visitors were provided with magnifying glasses to see tiny details of the exhibits.

It helped me to find something new even among the images I had seen many times before, like Durer’s Adam and Eve of 1504:

DP816026 - копия

No, it’s not the cat and mouse at the bottom. They are too obvious: one can miss neither them nor their metaphoric references.

My surprise was the bewildered goat at the top right corner that has climbed up a cliff and watches birds flying below, and the cunningly evil expression of the snake achieved by Durer’s endowing the snake with almost human eyelids.

Of course, as any large city, Geneva tries to compensate the lack of private art initiative with public spending. This Xmas it was running a festival of light installations by contemporary artists which I would totally miss were I not living right in front of one of them.

Sophie Guyot, an artist from Lausanne, converted Longemalle square into a garden of symbolic objects that would light up in the evening changing colour from white to red and providing the perfect photo opportunity for transit skiing enthusiasts:

She left the interpretation open: it can be flowers, animals, or even human organs. The latter must be addressed to those who have reviewed a Hannibal Lector movie recently, which I find slightly disturbing, given the generally festive time of the year.

Otherwise, it is just fun and a huge electricity bill.

But, despite the slow start, I hope 2016 will serve me with a healthy helping of great art, heaps of art history discoveries, and plenty of opportunities to write about it all.

Happy New Year and see you soon in this blog!

P.S. WordPress spellchecker insists on replacing “Durer” with “Durex” in a vain hope I would abandon art and move over to the more popular domain of erotic literature. Thank you, I’d rather stay with “ü”.


24 hours, or getting back from paradise to normality

Caller: My name is Ivan and my mother-in-law has gone on a holiday. I’d like you to play a travel song for her
Radio DJ: Specially for Ivan’s mother-in law: Chris Rea with Road to Hell! 

Holidays are never long enough to get homesick, and I get instantly nostalgic the moment I return. Nostalgic about the places I’ve just returned from. A few snapshots I took in the 24 hours before my return to Moscow. Go through them to understand how my Mountain Deficit Disorder enters its acute stage as I get further from the mountains.

Courchevel, France, at night. Oligarchs, bankers, models. The warm window glow coming from cosy hotels and chalets priced anywhere from 1,500 to 30,000 Euro per week can make anyone cold-hearted about the banker bonuses that they get for managing money of Saudis and Russians acquired from sales of their oil and gas to the average Briton or Frenchman, including the ones living on benefits. It’s complicated, and somehow feels unjust, but as most unjust things in life, it is perfectly legal.

The average Russian oligarch and his girlfriends do not ski. They use these beauties to get to the mountain restaurants.

But the thing is, if you don’t ski, you don’t get to see this, the forming of a storm at 3500 metres. Yes, it is hiding in the towering cloud on the left.

And that’s something that takes your breath and mind so much away you are tempted to raise your ski poles to draw in a few lightnings. This is why being on top of the world for too long is bad for any politician. It doesn’t make them gandalphs, and when they start brandishing their metal-made weapons, some real god often gets curious about the effect of stray electricity on human arrogance.

And, of course, this view. Something you can’t reach even on skis. You have to ski and then walk along a ridge to get to this view.

Leaving Courchevel is not easy. Yet, the road to Geneva offers a lot of pleasures, most of which (like great apple pies, superb cappuccinos and nice clean toilets) can be found around the lake of Annecy.

You might have already seen this castle in my blog (in an article about Cezanne’s approach to painting it), but in the evening light it is especially charming.


Or vertical:

Which one do you think is better, the horizontal or vertical?

And then, Geneva.

Its somber neon signs for things adored by corrupt politicians:

Its 140-metre high fountain on the lake, surreal at night

And then, the next morning, Moscow:

You know what are these things? Cloud generators. Makes a better view from the Kremlin. You know, just a blue March sky is not as picturesque as a blue March sky with a few white clouds.

No. It is just a power plant. One of the few built inside Moscow, surrounded by houses where people actually live. Not as long as those who live in other places, but, you know, one has to pay for a nice view outta one’s window.

Now, I am mountain sick again. You may understand why. So, in a few days, we’ll get back to talking art!