to meet the artist Mikhail Shemyakin, under other circumstances would have long and tedious to watch until the great hermit get closer to the people of the French countryside, inhabited for many years. Now technological progress allows you to knock someone else’s home in the comfort of your own.

However, Michael warned that he does not like Skype, Zoom and other Internet bells and whistles, so for two hours we communicated the old fashioned way – with a wired phone.

When was the last time he offered his hand for a strong handshake, Michael?

– Constantly greeted with the workers who come to me.

– what about social distance?

– you Know, we live in such a closed world that I never came to ask this question. The circle is now small, there are a few people. We are living with my student from America. We were together at Venice, when the “Boum” and panic because of the coronavirus. Still staying with the writer, an Englishman, is working on a book. So two visitors.

Needless to say, wife Sarah, my sister, and of the employees. Someone lives with us, others in the neighboring town, and come here to work. That’s all. We are constantly in a kind of seclusion.

But the loneliness I feel, my workshops filled with your favorite companions and teachers, is the old master artists or philosophers, writers, poets. I do not understand those who talk about boredom. Always knew what to do. And work was through the roof.

Although aware that many now hard psychologically. Great people became stupid, emptied themselves. This is a very unpleasant and difficult situation, especially for the young who used to hustle in the discos and night clubs. Sometimes I think im scared to be alone. Because it turns out that their inner world is empty, nothing filled in.

You had to rebuild because of a pandemic?

– If only in a good way, as they say in Odessa. Fewer visitors, and I am now working with redoubled force. Including the autobiography and a book “Six years of teaching.” I will soon pass the defense of diplomas on the topic of transformation of Russian icons. By 22 June is expected to come to St. Petersburg to his students, but because of the coronavirus will all be held online, through the screen. Really don’t like it, to tell the truth. Nowhere to go, although, of course, distressing.

the rest of the quarantine of my plans were not violated, on the contrary, gave the opportunity to focus on the project, connected with the Russian folk dialects and stories. Are initiated Solzhenitsyn ways, trying to preserve the unique identity of our language, which, alas, lose not by days but by hours.

See how many different Affairs.

– I do Not see, but hear… Any precautions to observe?

– you Know, when I�� to be neat. Like all who have to work with paper, prints, rare books. My hands are always thoroughly. In addition, from a young age rinse the nose with salt water as advised by the doctors. It helps to escape from the cold, and now, they say, protects from any germs.

the Mask you wear?

– I’m a big homebody, will not leave the estate. Market, shops – these assistants, and I’m never on a mask not pulled.

If you have to, what will choose? You have known of masonica, certainly quite a collection.

Yes, carnival and theatre. But to protect the best fit gas mask with a bag on his shoulder.

– He, too, have you?

– of Course. Collect old helmets, and other things related to the war and at the same time. There uniforms, and a lot of stuff.

You are not asked to participate in the world of anti-virus mask-show?

– have not Yet been addressed. Although, I agree, is to revive the white gauze bandage, getting rid of total anonymity. Feeling like he was in the hospital.

Can be nice to paint the masks to come up with funny pictures, but I’m just not up to it. Among other things missing and theatrical concerns. Signed a contract with the Moscow art theatre, and at the end of the year will take place a premiere of my musical “the Sandman,” the tale of Hoffmann.

Unless, of course, again the virus will not interfere and not be confused card.

– what do you think about the pandemic? Not in the medical sense, but rather philosophical.

– a Lot of studying the Talmud, read what I said and wrote Jewish thinkers. After all, one of the wisest of the peoples of the…

For the phrase “one” might be offended.

– Tell the parable. Imagine that we, the people, the population of the Earth, invited to a fancy house, where a garden with marvelous birds, and ponds with beautiful fish. At the threshold we were warmly greeted by owner says: “Enjoy, enjoy”. What have we done? First, dirtied the house, broke, and spoil all, and then went into the garden, mutilated him, trampled grass, deformed trees, defiled and polluted the river so that the fish went belly-up. Barbarians, vandals!

– Yes, some of you immortalized in Moscow at the Swamp, depicting the vices of mankind.

– In General, the owner comes back, looked at the doers of atrocities, made the remark one, second, third… no one had heard Him, the people forgot that he was away, and continued to rage.

Patience may be terminated at any. In such a situation will act even polite and well-mannered person? Take a wild pack by the collar and put up there, will shake out for all to save the garden and the house. After this Horde nature, maybe a million years to recover.

Here is my, so to speak, the attitude to this situation.

We were given a demonstration lesson, whipped. If not recover �� not begin to regroup ahead expect even worse problems. I would not want that.

Who is the owner of the house, Michael?

Well, each stands on its own. Christians have a three-faced God. Muslims have Allah. Scientists talking about a higher intelligence. The masons is the Great Architect.

And you?

– I Have everything combined in one. God has no name. The point is not how to call. It is important to designate in the soul, to understand that there is a vertex which we can not comprehend.

So if you do not come to their senses, then the Apocalypse?

– I don’t know, but it is obvious that each subsequent warning will be more severe. First, a naughty child gets a slap on the ass. If you continue to vandalize, the course will a belt or something stronger.

There is an interesting American movie I would have made all view from school. Called “the Day the Earth stood still”. In some mysterious alien Orb arrives. Him on the orders of the Pentagon first, trying to soak, fortunately, nothing from the ball out of the man.

the Actor, who starred in “the Matrix,” I’m bad with names of artists…

Keanu Reeves.

– Yes, so he played the alien with smart planet. Ask him what he was doing, and the hero Reeves says that he came to save the Earth. People think that the assistance addressed to them, but it soon becomes clear that the alien intends to rid the world from homo sapiens.

it Turns out that humans lived for sixty years the observer. He reported to the messenger of heaven that people are of course interesting, even surprising, but must be destroyed, because they are destroyers by nature.

the Main character is ready to start a total sweep, saving the life of animals, birds and other creatures, but in the end it’s tempting to give another chance. Funny alien agrees and flies away. Everything ends optimistically, such a Hollywood happy end.

In fact we can not spare.


I said: stop shitting on the fabric of our Earth. Otherwise COVID-19, which really caused a lot of grief seem like child’s firecracker in comparison with what lies ahead.

We are constantly trying to create some new bombs to kill each other, and then comes the little creature in the crown, so tiny that the tip of the needle fit several million of these viruses, says: “So, Basta, guys! All sit at home and did not stick his nose!”

Those who do not believe in the seriousness of the threat, probably flew into a parallel world feet first. Here’s what to think.

– In your feeling, humanity will learn a lesson?

– In this sense I am a pessimist. Once I read an interview with a prominent scientist Sergey Kapitsa: “the World does not destroy the atom and not cancer but a greedy fool.” Unfortunately, this is a greatriiiiiiight.

I am far from policy, but understand that power and corruption everywhere go hand in hand. And how would we now no tryndeli, what intelligent thought nor formulated, those who rule the world and disposes of real money, do not want to change. They would not care about our reasoning. With a high steeple.

In my opinion, there at the top, many people. But not physical illness, but mental.

They struck the devil with a passion for power and greed. Hence the desire at any cost to assert themselves, their insignificance. Nobody likes them. At best suffer because of perepadya from the master’s table.

If the world lived by the laws that gave us the sky, everything would have developed differently…

When flashed pandemic, you have been on the carnival of Venice?

– Go there for many years, involved are theater of Russia. The program is always different and extensive. This year flew the inmates of the Foundation “Maria’s Children”. Orphans, children with developmental disabilities. They second time was at the carnival. Together with Anwar Libabov, a great clown and entertainer from St. Petersburg, brought and showed a real performance.

I was struck by the view of Venice without crowds of tourists. Like back in the old days when I first arrived there in 1972. Sitting in San Marco, enjoying the peace and the good weather. And the museums were empty. Wandering alone through the halls, stood in front of favorite paintings and thought, Oh my God, what a great time. Sarah lived for ten fabulous days, went to France, and suddenly it became clear that Italy was closed. Had time to pop up.


We rented an apartment and didn’t want to leave them prematurely. Why? Money paid back will not return, and I’m a man, so to speak, with a great name, but with a small pocket.

– it Turns out nothing has changed since 1971, when you were expelled from the USSR, asking with things on the way out? More precisely, without the things…

– It was a prerequisite. In the Big House I was told: “On departure, no one should know, including parents. A – nothing, no suitcase, no bags!” I put in a plastic bag reproductions of your favorite artists and a few small objects for still lifes. That all flew out of the Soviet Union.

Only later understood the reason. Inside the KGB were fighting different forces. Some employees genuinely wanted to save me, the second expected for a long time to plant, and still others were ready to destroy, to put to the wall. I was on the 64th article of the RSFSR criminal code – treason, premeditated act intended to damage the national independence, territorial inviolability, or military might of the Soviet Union. And it is the highest measure of punishment – shooting with confiscation of property.

That’s out of the country me and pushed me out empty handed, without anything. Otherwise, risksal to fall into a hole with a bullet in his head. And put on a plane and dropped it in Paris. Thanks to the French, which immediately agreed to accept exile.

why you become a hermit?

it So happened. We have ten years lived in Paris and moved to new York. At some point I realized that for writing large canvases I need the room in the country. Went to look and saw a huge house with a Park. Decided to remove. We really liked it there, he did not want to go back to new York. Stinks of exhaust, honking cars, crowds on the streets… And a few hours drive – waterfalls, forests, and other beauty. In short, Catshill, where for twenty years fell asleep Rip van Winkle, the hero of the novel Pushkin’s beloved writer Washington Irving.

since childhood, I’ve read about these places and, once there, felt like home. We have lived in this village before returning to Europe. But I already understood that the city will not go back. First, it is less comfortable, and secondly, expensive, thirdly, we love the outdoors and every animal.

we Have six dogs, about the same number of cats and donkeys. With this economy it’s hard to live in the city.

Does the lock contain cheaper than housing in the city?

– not Even to talk about it. Now very few people need the locks. Nice big apartment in Paris is several times more expensive than an estate with a house somewhere in the French provinces. For decent housing in the capital will have to pay five million euros. It may be much more expensive. A million is the least for something more or less high-quality. And locks like mine sell for seven hundred thousand euros. Below the price of the apartment business class in the centre of Moscow.

So do not think that the French are chasing vacation property. On the contrary! Nobody wants to buy. In fact, people work, get up every day and go somewhere – to the office, on the production. Artists can afford to live in castles. Like Picasso, for example.

– Or Shemyakin.

– No need to compare us!


– Picasso – block! The greatest master, and what is Shemyakin, should show time…

They in France of thousands of locks, some are abandoned, without proper care. Here next door in my eyes beautiful XV century castle turns into ruins. No one is buying, and he will remain only in old photographs.

Your peers Tselkov calls you a wolf.

– Pay him the same. It is the same outside of the pack. Recently, we spoke with Oleg on the phone… not only is He a great master and a wonderful thinker, but also my favorite person. To communicate with him is a pleasure. Here and humor, and unusual Outlook on life. Grotesque, as in his work.

Sure, Oleg is also not alone. I am always surprised question: “You are not alone in the wilderness?” Every time I repeat that I am never alone. In my Studio playing Bach, then it is replaced miles Davis with an amazing pipe, followed by buzzing Armstrong in company with Ella Fitzgerald. Sitting across from Kierkegaard with Heidegger and bear your sad nonsense. Argue with them and sometimes agree. When you work and wrong there is a hand, he immediately says, “Bad motherfucker, hold the line!”

You have no idea how many amazing people have been constantly in my workshop! How can you miss it? Take one book, second, third… And I have hundreds of thousands of them! Don’t know how to stretch the day and the night lengthened. Time is always very short.

do talk with Sarah. I always have something to discuss with my wife. We start for a long Breakfast, we continue walking with dogs in the Park (it was beautiful), finish at dinner. We never have lunch.

At midnight begin work on an autobiography, and closer to six in the morning go to bed.

– do you Have purebred dogs?

– all Sorts. From the Chihuahua to the huge Irish wolfhound.

And hunting is?

a Small Spaniel, but not for hunting. I don’t hunt, fish and do not kill anyone, on the contrary – even Zhukov rescued if they fall in the bathroom or sink. Comes to such stupidity, is a hobby sorry. Although it is necessary – they are painfully annoying. How some people.

Tell us about memoirs.

– the Long-promised Lena Shubina, smartest and fierce redactors of the publishing house “AST”. Three years working on the first volume. Go chronologically. Write yourself by hand. Then Sara reprints, brings me, I proofread, edit, cross out the excess, give again, it’s making corrections. So you go around in a circle. Try to avoid not only verbosity, and mnogoborya.

I read a Lot of memoirs and noticed that even the memories of famous people often become a kind of family album, which featured some uncle Vanya and aunt tozi. The author is fond of, and the movie is interesting only to him the details. “And we came to the Ala, she was a friend of aunt Toshi…” On the head of the unfortunate reader dumped a mountain of superfluous, no not particularly necessary information. Yes, maybe the reader “drum” these uncles and aunts! Try to write something truly meaningful that could be interested and, hopefully, something to enrich the reader.

basically the story of the family is able to become useful and instructive, but it is important as a literary language, the degree of talent.

– You have someone to remember. The names Nureyev, Dovlatov, Vysotsky, Brodsky and Baryshnikov – will be interesting to all.

– they are going to write in the second volume.

And in the first there are no pictures – neither the Pope nor mother, nor grandparents. No one and nothiO.


based on my drawings. They should show that it was impossible to photograph, but you can play only from memory. And of course, pictures will be unusual.

But my father was a very special person. For example, could in the same pants to attend the Banquet and dance on the table. He used to spit on the rules of etiquette and decency. Probably huliaipole left a mark, when a boy dad had adjutantgeneral batko Makhno. This apathy and I are genetically inherited. Here and in the drawings will be displayed apathy Shemyakin Sr. and Shemyakin, Jr.

Inherited his father’s traits, Michael?

I’m very rebellious, Yes. Enough to remember life in the mountains, when out of the madhouse. I was held there for six months, trying to wean from brushes and pencils. Experimented with psychotropic drugs as a Guinea rabbit.

In the book it’s a big head – “the Path of the wise dog.” A dog bitten by a snake, runs away somewhere in the mountains or in the forest, eating grass and roots, and then either survives or dies. So I can say, did the same thing. I started to have severe withdrawal from the drugs that were stuffed in the nuthouse. I lived in caves, inhabited by Scorpions and other reptiles. The first monks-hermits. Found them in the mountains of Svaneti. It’s hard to describe, easier to draw. I hope in a couple of months to get done with the text books and doing illustrations. I promised that this year will turn out to be published. Unless, of course, promptly put the manuscript.

– a Couple of years ago was going to talk about my father for a book on the history of the KGB, which is published in Moscow. Happened?

Yes, the novel “Red centaur” published in the eleventh volume, and now, in my opinion, came sixteenth.

There are interesting memories of mom, she wrote beautifully. The compilers of the collection asked me for a snippet, well, I gave. Now, demand more and more. Say: “No, guys, stop you a passage about how mommy goes to the front.” From the point of view of literature, she perfectly mastered the language perfectly. I do not know, therefore, told about the father without hardship.

But in his autobiography devoted a lot of space. No one has made me such a strong influence as he. Mother was so, you know, snobby, intellectual. From an old noble family, studied French, graduated from theater school and stuff, stuff, stuff… And the father of the orphan, the adjutant of Makhno. Absolutely terrible childhood and wild youth. Stealing Khitrova on the market, I’ve been bit, knew Gilyarovskogo called him uncle Gila.

I Think dad didn’t understand how to educate and communicate with their own children. Remember, go after discharge from the psychiatric hospital to meet him. Asked if yesterday: “I Heard in a madhouse were?” Answer: “Yes, dad.” I tried something to explainthread to tell you how hard I had to. The father did not listen, just shook his head: “wow! Where only Shemyakina no scores! Well, bye.” And went on. I stood with my mouth open and watched the receding figure in his officer’s overcoat.

it is clearly understood: in all areas of my work reflects his influence. A very important moment in my life! Only over time began to decipher what is a father to me. Although for all of this, of course, was a scary man.

I am grateful to destiny for many, my book – thanks to her, although many would not understanding. Even here take Professor Sluchevsky, under whose supervision were conducted terrible experiments on me in the hospital Osipova. Now writing a book and understand that it was a test. Times overcame him, so they have won. Only tempered the soul and consciousness of man rises on the top step.

So the book I got a very strange. In humans, the question may arise: what is beautiful is that screwing with you, check on a break? Hope the reader will understand why in spite of everything I have achieved something in the works.

I had a difficult childhood. Father drank a lot and buzilov, my mother was a difficult character. Even from a distance look terrifying, and a close look even worse. However, with age, many perceive otherwise.

– become more Tolerant?

– See the world through a particular angle. Can’t much blame the people. Rather, grieving, if friends betray. And this happened. And more than once. But very angry at them still does not work. You can not stoop to hatred.

hurt You, you took pouted. Then showed his weakness. It is better to try to understand why people made the shit and don’t rush to condemn him. Sooner or later will come to the conclusion that the traitor not worthy of anger, but only pity.

But, say, Ilya Kabakov your paths diverged.

the pots we are not beaten. Recently I spoke with Amelia, wife of Elijah, said that he sent books to him… He chose one path, I continue to stomp on the old one. At the same time publicly about Kabakov speak only as of the genius artist, unique artist. And do not dissemble. This is the most intelligent and talented people. What would not touch, all turns out Grand. Elijah, God gave him a kiss on the top of the head.

what can you say about the recently departed Limonov?

– Pray for him. You know, it is very important to remember the departed. You know, my prayer will not help much, but I retain the memory of those who are no longer around. That was in the Soviet Union popular MIME Boris Amarantov. You probably have not heard of this name?

– I do Not remember.

– View on the Internet. Unhappy man! He has a good career, he even opened in the Soviet Union, the pantomime theatre, but I wanted more. In the middle of Semitesies of the last century stupidity refused Soviet passports and emigrated to the United States. It turned out that in the West, Boris useless, Amaranth – not Marcel Marceau, but only a copy thereof.

ten years later returned to the Soviet Union and soon committed suicide. That’s such a horrible fate. Who today would remember the suicide? And I knew him personally and still pray for the soul, although much time has passed. I like that it is not forgotten in death.

and Limonov. The most interesting figure! Incidentally, he was not indifferent to me… Keep his manuscript, Edward began to write a novel about my childhood. We talked, but I couldn’t be friends with him, like Vysotsky. Lemons once sadly said, “No, friend, Volodya, never for you I won’t.” It was a kind of jealousy, in the future, it is as inherent to him, was “cheating” me. That is Lemon, Orange can’t make him. But damn talented!

Volodya we had a special friendship, we very well understand each other. As probably no one. Vysotsky wrote me more than a dozen songs and poems. The most famous – “the end of the hunting wolves” and “Dome”.

You celebrated your own 77th birthday, Michael? Date beautiful…

– Sat may 4 in the family. Modestly, quietly. As my late uncle: “we drank in the Civilian world.” Fortunately for others, still partying with the noise and shooting-by shooting at the chandeliers have not practiced. Rarely on the banquets, but, when chosen, be sure to start pestering with the question: “anything to drink?” Politely refuse. Insist: “Maybe the champagne? Whiskey? To relax”. I said, “Yeah, I can drink. I relax, but you will strain”. And I was immediately left alone.

no Longer forced to strain. So the birthday went smoothly. But May 9 is a sacred holiday. And my father fought in two wars, and mom was with him in a cavalry regiment, two and a half years spent in the saddle.

in addition, on may 9, gave birth to my only daughter. A year and a half she passed away, Dorothea died in January 2018. So may 9 at the same time and bright, and sad day. In recent years, often recall the biblical truth that the sins of the fathers shall be visited on the head of children.

Blame yourself for your daughter’s death?

– No, I did everything I could to become an interesting person, took place in my life. Dorothea succeeded. She was 53, she left a great artistic heritage. As an amazing artist, sculptor and jeweler. Now working on the two volumes.

the Daughter, unfortunately, was subject to the eternal Russian disease. Female alcoholism is almost not curable. I too suffered this national affliction.

– And you know the depression?

I don’t know what mean this word. Yes, it happens, sad when you think about our society, about young people. Because of the coronavirus a lot of gloomy thoughts ��of ESET in the head. Think: well, that will end the isolation, and we don’t learn anything, we’ll smoke the sky, pollute soil and water. Again savertime will scrutinse will savoraim and puffed! So there will be a new warning and a new virus. Maybe scarier today…

such thoughts is sad. But try less talk about what is unable to change. Better to fill your head with thoughts about ways of Russian art.

When to expect in Russia?

– first Let the open border. Sorry, unable to attend at the Academy of arts for the protection of their students. Only through the screen. I in advance of the coronavirus, invited eminent art critics, planned a great event. Still, six years experience with children, helped them to become original artists. Therefore, the work on the book, I hope it will help to create a different system of education in the visual arts.

the New students will take?

– don’t think about it. For the first year I the state settled, and then he paid the tuition of students. Had to go into debt, only recently once again personal and paid the rest to my boys out in front of the diploma. I’m not an oligarch any…

still love Russia, and even in exile he continued to serve her. Ready to continue to do so. In the past year, met with Vladimir Putin, we are told that nobody lives forever, everyone dies. I want my achievements, research, library and other archives were preserved and became the property of the Motherland.

On behalf of Putin flew here the Director of the Russian Museum Gusev and officials from the Ministry of culture. Made plans, and then – silence. Okay, now pandemic, but this does not happen the first time. If Russia does not in need of my heritage, and give all countries that have a keen interest. But it will be very sad and hurt.

However, hope is not yet lose.

Photos by TASS, RIA Novosti and from the personal archive of Mikhail Shemyakin.