Friday, August 21, 2009

The Bookplates of Vladimir Vereschagin II

Vereschagin’s first five bookplates were created on linoleum, then he tried lithography (three plates) and mezzotint for the deck of card series. The artist’s favorite technique is aquatint etching with manual painting of samples for exhibitions, which makes his bookplates unique works of art.

Bookplate design differs somewhat from the language of other art forms, even book graphics. During thirty years of Vereschagin’s work his designs have evolved from simple romantic symbolism into a deeply philosophical, metaphorical expressionism, frequently depicting the phantasmagoria of modern realities.

Beginning with his early work, Vereschagin has shown a sharp eye and superb technical skill and the ability to make a portrait using several details; the portrait not only copying the model, but also depicting his spiritual world. As a good example of these skills, I would like to mention the exlibris of Valeriy Mishin who in the early nineteen-eighties re-introduced color lithography: the owner of the bookplate is shown tied to the lithographic stone with the Petersburg’s landscape as a background.

One can immediately recognize Andrey Gennadiev, the leader of the Petersburg avant garde movement, in the tall figure wearing a historical costume, standing near the statue of Gogol’s Nose. Creating bookplates for his fellow artists, Vladimir often uses unique characteristics of their own art styles. That is shown in the exlibris of Alexander Kolokoltsev: in comparison with the small planet in the background, a huge snail is piercing the dark with searchlights projecting from the top of his shell which has turned into a flying saucer, symbolizing the relativity of being on micro- and macro-cosmic levels, a theme Kolokoltsev has been interested in all his life.

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