First published: Fall 1999
In Pavel Leonov's 'Mekhovitzi', fountains play, bathers rejoice, a seventy-metre video screen shows scenes from the circus, a carousel turns, animals cooperate with one another, humanity and technology exist in harmony.
In the actual village of Mekhovitzi, hardly anyone has a TV, let alone a giant video screen, the horseflies are voracious, the well is running dry and the majority of his fellow villagers are convinced that Pavel Leonov is something of a fool.
Leonov was born in 1920 in a village near Orel, an area famed for its beautiful breed of carriage horses. At the age of sixteen, he fled from a brutal father whom he describes as 'a professional alcoholic', and ended up in the Ukraine, living in a hostel. He worked in a factory making tractors and at night he taught himself to draw from a manual.