And now I’d like to tell you about my first and foremost teacher of art, Alikberov Vitaliy Mursalovitch. He is now a State’s Artist of Ukraine. The fate set up our encounter in the eighth, the last, year of my learning at the Grekov Arts College in Odessa. I graduated from it with a red diploma but studied eight years instead of four as I took academic leaves.
I had an odd concept from my childhood, probably invented for self-justification, that I was barely in time enough to jump on the last wagon of the departing train, tram or trolley before the door was closed. Yet I did make it! And this Encounter with Alikberov Vitaliy Mursalovitch was the key event at the Odessa Arts College I had been waiting for during eight years!
I was 24 then. I had lots of energy but very vague notions, especially concerning the nature of Art. And here he was, the 40-year-old graduate of the Kyiv Arts Institute, an artist, to teach drawing and plastic anatomy to the sculptors of the fourth year of study. He was a late-graduate student from Kyiv, yet wise in his forties. He had a burning heart, a trust, a true interest in us, his first students. I already knew then all the methods, styles and techniques of teaching. But the new teacher brought up an easel – quite an extraordinary thing for us. At the height of the large 2-meter easel he fastened a thick pile (some 50 pages) of 2m sheets of drawing-paper for the full, real-life, height of the model. These huge long sheets could be easily turned over to the back of the easel – and there was a new, clean, ready-to-work, ready-for-a-masterpiece sheet of paper. This abundance of paper gave freedom. There was no fear to spoil a clean sheet as there were dozens of more clean sheets under it. You could just turn over the page and start it all over again. We soon made up such easels, but smaller, for ourselves. Next the Teacher prepared boxes with sauce, charcoal, sanguine, sepia and made ready to draw with us! I was surprised at the power of the tasks, at the Initiative, Freedom, Creative Spirit, at the opportunity to draw together with the Teacher. Then Alikberov smiled and said to us, the intimidated students of the Grekov College, famous across all the Soviet Union, “Guys, let’s stop measuring, calculating and constructing. Today, let’s see what a beautiful, plastic model we’ve got here, how flexible its support is, how beautiful it stands here! Let’s just draw it! We’ll not be measuring it or building it with a plummet. We’ll just admire it and draw!” During one class (three or four academic hours, 45 minutes each) Alikberov freely, powerfully and bravely drew several superb drawings in brown sauce in the model’s full size (he always draws the model together with his students).
That was a revelation for me. It was our first lesson – and my serious lesson in Art! Of course, there was the construction and the study of anatomy and composition later. But suddenly it came upon me what I had been waiting for all these eight years: the Understanding, the Courage, the Ability to admire the Beautiful, and the Joy of Discovery – the Beginning of each Artist. We, the first students in his life, understood: we were interesting to him as creative persons. He was interested in our success. And we realized that the main thing was to work and admire and be happy as you solve the tasks and love your work. Worrying about the score you would get at the review was by far not the most important thing. Everyone who studied under Alikberov believed him and respected him. Alas, I cannot describe all the storm that took place in my head in 1984-85. But my discoveries in drawing quickly led to my own creative discoveries in sculpture, compositions, in my creative development in general. If I am an artist – that started back then.
I wish to express my respect and sincere thanks to the teacher of the Odessa Arts College Alikberov Vitaliy Mursalovitch.
I know everything that’s good in my works started and happened because of Alikberov. Of course, I have had important creative encounters afterwards, with sculptor Valeriy Pirogov, with artist Yuriy Konstantinov, etc, that affected me and my fate. There was the Tsigal Creative Workshop of Sculpture (at the Russian Academy of Arts), but there would have been none of that without the beginning, the meetings with Alikberov.
Thank you, Vitaliy Mursalovitch! Good health and good luck to you!