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Hedonism Gallery

Mihail Chemiakin - Carnival in St. Petersburg, Suite of 5 Lithographs (1988)

Mihail Chemiakin - Carnival in St. Petersburg, Suite of 5 Lithographs (1988)

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Mihail Chemiakin - Suite of 5 Lithographs "Carnaval St. Petersbourg" (1988)

This portfolio of 5 lithographs in a gift velvet folder is extremely rare, only 25 copies (one of 5 lithographs from an edition of 250 copies): “épreuve d'artiste”, meaning Artist's Proof in French. Includes two lithographs not included in the main edition.

  • 5 Lithographs on Arches paper
  • Gift velvet folder  
  • Signed and numbered in pencil
  • 29.9 x 21.3 in (53 x 76 cm)
  • Published by: Galerie Carpentier
  • Printed by: Grapholith
  • Edition : 25 (4 lithographs) and 250 copies (1 lithograph)

    Condition report: Moisture stains in the lower margin that do not affect the signature or the printing

Whenever you hear the word "carnival", the first thing that comes to mind is a happy holiday and a second one is Venice. Commedia Dell'arte which gave the world all these wonderful characters - Harlequin, Pierrot, Columbine, Pulcinella and the Doctor - was originated in Italy, namely in Venice, where on St. Mark's Square the riotous and comic bacchanalia reached its apogee.. But there is another strange and fantastic city - St. Petersburg. This city often called the Venice of the North. It gave rise to the most thoroughly thought out and clownish carnival processions in the long history of the carnival. Petersburg looks largely similar to Venice - there are multiple channels, majestic palaces, elaborate baroque architecture and it is here, in Russian Venice, a festive carnival spirit of Russia has found its most vivid expression.

Russian carnival tradition is rooted in the history of ancient Russia which started with buffoons severely persecuted by the Church, street dancers, jesters and singers, and reached a dawn in the era of the reign of Peter I with his amusing battles, processions and festivities. The authorities did not leave alone buffoons because of the fact that the ditties and tomfoolery were full of political hints directed against the Church, the boyars, and sometimes even against the most supreme ruler. The attentive viewer will definitely notice the some share of political protest and even cynicism in my series of "Carnivals of St. Petersburg" - it is a consequence of my experience of life in the Soviet Union.
Peter I personally planned clownish procession and gave to participants detailed instructions: who should ride on a pig or bear, who should blow into the tube or horn. Everybody were obliged to participate in the carnival processions. These incredible and crazy celebrations become an inspiration for my Carnival series over which I have been working for many years.

In the vast expanses of the Russian land you can see a lot of people and nationalities, and even though they are not similar to each other in appearance and have different customs, they live nearby. For example, in my Carnival you can see the Mongol with a pig snout is dancing next to the brave Cossack and near him a slim-legged Frenchman looks in wonder at the freak of Peter's Kunstkammer, who is spinning like a top on the navel. Having carefully considered the bizarre masks of Africa, Oceania and ancient Mexico, I found that their noses, grimaces and forms are strikingly similar with the masks of Commedia Dell'arte and buffoons of ancient Russia. The research of amphibians, beetles, frogs and works of Granville helped me to see their similarity to human clownish characters and thus, in the whirlwind of my carnivals interwoven Tatars and Cossacks, Australian Aborigines and jesters, butterflies and spiders. Add to this our insane youth, our surreal life, and you get the source of my Carnival series.

From the Album "Mikhail Chemiakin," Volume II.

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