Moscow is hosting an expo called Sudan Through Eyes of Russian Artists arranged by Sudan's embassy. The gallery features the works by four Russian artists who present their interpretation of the African country.
The paintings were made before visiting the country and later on the embassy invited them on a tour across the country that transformed their vision of Sudan.
Editor-in-chief of the website of the Russia - Islamic World group visited the exhibition and spoke to one of the artists, Dmitry Paukov.
What made you take part in the project?
- It was the idea of the Sudanese embassy that wanted to arrange an event like this to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Russia. They invited several artists in one place at the Central Palace of Artists to paint Sudan based on their stereotypes. Then the jury selected some of the works, including me painting, and they sent us to Sudan… So we went there for 10 days in February and got a lot of impressions and here they are.
What is different between your previous stereotypes and what you saw in Sudan?
-It is completely different, it is an entirely different world. We thought it is a dry desert. But event this desert turned out to be very picturesque and diverse. People live everywhere, even in the mountains and on the coast of the Red Sea. We traveled so fast that we hardly knew where we are.
You spent each day in a different place?
-Yes, we moved to a different place every day. We slept in tents in the desert. I was extremely surprised by the diversity of landscapes - they have mountains, the sea and the desert. Even the desert is diverse. People are friendly and welcoming. Sudan is a country with different cultures including the traditional Arab culture and African ethnic groups. This convergence is present in clothing and elsewhere.
Would you make your painting in different way if you did it after visiting the country?
- I would change the colour palette and the story, too. When you get first-hand experience, you remember different images and stories. It was really exciting to be there. Before that I had little info about the country, I did not really know what to paint. You can find photos of pyramids and Port Sudan, but it does not really look different. But to get a taste of life you have to go to the country.
What was the most exciting moment in those ten days?
-It was at the end of the trip. Sure, it all looks amazing and stunning. But here comes the last day, and we come to the arts college to arrange an exhibition of the paintings we made during our journey. It was the most exciting exhibition in my life: all the students came out, took their national drums and started dancing right in the open air under the palm trees. This was a blast, it was such a beautiful finale. It could not go better than this. We were very pleased. Everyone was happy. We talked to the students. There is one teacher who speaks Russian. Actually, we met several dozen people, some incidentally, during our stay who spoke Russian (laughs).
Are you going to make Sudan your regular destination?
-I'd love to go there once again (laughs).
Do you want to see anything else?
-It was a very brief trip, we covered the entire country in just ten days. Some Sudanese told us they had not seen some of the places we visited.
Where would you like to come back?
-I would like to go those places that we did not manage to visit. For example, we did not have time for the national park.
Credit: Maria Mikhailovskaya
The Sudan Through Eyes of Russian Artists exhibition will be open until May 27, 2017 on Stary Arbat.