First published: Winter 2007
The quiet, Soviet-era apartment is in half-light. The long curtains of the living room filter the soft summer sun, lending privacy. The room contains a table, a sofa, an armchair and a cabinet with family photos. In a bright pool of lamplight Vasilij Tichonovich Romanenkov's attention is focused upon a square centimetre of pen-work, a detail of a much larger metre-high piece.
Romanenkov's drawings, dense with detail, can contain as many as a hundred figures, yet the participants of these invented encounters never seem to touch. Human interaction is implicit.
People are silently united within a common event, a ritual whose patterning may find atavistic echoes in even the non-Russian observer. Beneath the stylistic ethnicity the figures seem to transmit a universal archaic meaning. In a Russian world that has experienced extreme social entropy, where both traditional and post-Revolutionary rituals and values have been jettisoned within the space of a century, Romanenkov offers a glimpse of a functioning, harmonious and autonomous society. His work is almost that of the restorer who is perfecting the scenes and tableaux that adorn the monuments of his own imagination and the sacred spaces to which his soul belongs.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #61