I had made an appointment to visit Andrei Korliakov as I was eager to meet the Russian historian who had found a long-lost painting of mine (see January 20, 2010 ) and I brought my camera but, engrossed in conversation, stupidly forgot to record this encounter. Never mind, I'll do it next time I'm in Paris. Seeing again my bold, enthusiastic painting of cypress trees in Florence after all these years was a big thrill and I happily complied with Andrei's request that I write on the back to confirm it really was painted by me. It is now part of his very interesting collection of works by Russian (or Russian-connected) artists, most of which he discovered by chance during forays in the marché aux puces.
Korliakov is a genial and dedicated researcher who has made it his life's work to build a record in photographs and documents of a fascinating slice of human history: the exodus of thousands of Russians from the cataclysmic revolution in their homeland to the many other countries where they started new lives. Working alone in his well-equipped Paris studio (state of the art scanner and computers) with the dogged patience and astute persistence of a detective, Andrei assembles the information which he finds or is sent to him by exiled Russians and their descendants, into impressive albums that are produced, published and distributed by himself. His next volume will be about Russians who went to South America and I promised to send him all material I have about my father's experiences in Paraguay and Brazil. If anyone reading this has Russian relatives or friends with connections to South America, or anywhere else in the world, do get in touch with Andrei (email and postal address are on his website). Such fortuitous links are the raw material his research depends on.
I mentioned a painting I did long ago of an old man, Colonel Kermanoff, who lived near my father's property outside Asunciòn and to my astonishment, Andrei instantly located a photo of Kermanoff as a young man: it seems he was an important person in the pre-Soviet army and the records show he eventually ended up in Paraguay. Who knew? Another serendipitous happening!
Colonel Kermanoff by NdA. Oil on canvas.