by Peter Ferko
Russian artist Piotr Shvetsov and I met several years ago and take advantage of opportunities to get together when we are in the same country. Shvetsov participates in the project Now:Here:This.
At a recent meeting in the U.S., Shvetsov mentioned that he wanted the chance to do simultaneous portaits with a mutual artist friend. I followed up on that idea when I was planning to be in St. Petersburg in May, 2007. I sent Shvetsov a description of the TransAction project and proposed that we have a TransAction in which we make mutual portraits. (A description of the TransAction project is under the About this Project tab).
The St. Petersburg visit did not offer an opportunity for the joint portrait session, as Shvetsov was busy preparing an installation to be shown at Art Moskva. I took advantage of a studio visit to make his portrait.
Piotr Shvetsov, Peter Ferko, 2007, St. Petersburg, photograph
Nevertheless, the artistic exchange continued and the TransAction continued providing value. St. Petersburg is the home of the Hermitage, but also hosts an active group of contemporary artists and is beginning to sport commercial galleries. As the contemporary artists know most of each other, they form a tight group.
At an opening in a new gallery that consists of a doorway in a stairwell of the Pushkinskaya 10 art center, the work surprised several local artists, including Piotr Shvetsov, who showed up as “Daddy Cool.”
I hung out with Shvetsov and a group of artists and spouses after the show. While I can’t say I followed much of the Russian conversation, a nice chat with one video artist showed that things are similar everywhere: in a large city one gets lost, in a smaller city one knows everyone, but feels like there should be more happening.
We headed to Moscow later in the week and hit Art Moskva art fair, now in its 11th year.
After the fair, Shvetsov and I (and our family members) had a chance to relax a bit more, and he turned attention back to his half of the TransAction “bargain.”
Just when it seemed as though the convergence of free time and drawing materials would not occur, artistic creativity came to the rescue.
As we walked from our rented apartment toward the Metro station, Shvetsov arrived at his portraiture idea. Scouting the walkway, he picked up a discarded cigarette, pulled off the filter, sat me down on a railing and commenced my portrait by dipping the filter into a puddle of water and drawing on the asphalt.
The activity drew the attention of nearby shoppers. Chris Bashirov Newton documented the activities. The work was as fleeting as it was inspired. With crude materials and working against time, Shvetsov made a remarkably good likeness that I will treasure in my memory.
Peter Ferko, Piotr Shvetsov, 2007, water on asphalt in Moscow