the early nineties the threat of eviction from the art studio in Stoleshnikov
lane in which he had worked for 15 years already hang over Gennady. Several
times they sent terrible preventions - to release the workshop within 2
weeks, disconnected heating. And they didn’t give a new one. Once he
complained of his misfortunes to a good friend -psychiatrist. And he heard in
reply: "Come to me to the hospital tomorrow morning. You will have a
rest, will lie at us, will drink drugs, and you will forget for a while all
the adversities. We will help you. While you stay in hospital, they won’t
touch your art studio".
I the patient, - thought the artist, - or this "new" life so
changed me, that people have already taken me for the madman? But maybe, it
is the Destiny pushes me there to look and paint that almost nobody ever
sees. And if sees, that, hardly will draw. After all neither Fedotov, nor
Vrubel leave us the faces of their
last friends - mentally ill people. And it is a pity. . ". So in 1993 in
the "Moskovsky Hudozhnik” newspaper (of July 9 and 16) there was a sketch
with Gennady Dobrov's drawing "On Poteshnaja, 3".
there are subjects and images in human soul which disturb and torment him all
his life. Often the images of our childhood mentally influence on our
character, the attitude to the people around us.
of Health of the Russian Federation
the chief doctor of the Volgograd psychiatric hospital specialized type with
intensive supervision - T. Kuznetsova.
region Kamyshin district, the village "Dvorjanskoe”.
department of the psychoneurological help convincingly asks you to render
assistance to the deserved artist of the Russian Gennady Dobrov in creation of the graphic
series of drawings under the conditional name "Russian Psihochroniki".
ask, at opportunity, to render assistance in placement of the artist Dobrov
G. M. in the territory of the Volgograd PBSTIN.
Dobrov G. M. successfully carried out similar work in psychiatric hospitals
of Omsk, Kostroma, Kaliningrad, Amur, Jewish and Magadan areas.
Yours faithfully, Head of department
post-war country in which the future artist started to form, was occupied by
the people who were little similar to the modern one; as often happens that a
little person is not similar to himself in his childhood, youth and in old
age. Could we not lose our mind at those deprivations, fear, "pokhoronka”
(news about death), at those sufferings in which people lived for long 5
future artist in the windows of Omsk psychiatric hospital saw them in the far
childhood. He often reflected: "The war is everything: quarrel,
treachery of relatives, humiliation, undeserved insult - everything that we,
full and educated, create with each other, breaking all the
"precepts", passing all the "borders".
In the Kostroma
psychiatric hospital the artist drew Tamara who knows only one pose - an embryo
pose, a pre-natal pose in a belly of mother. She is in hospital for 56 years.
She isn't wounded, not contused. She was the cheerful rural laugher. Who could
offend her SO, that she has only one desire - to hide from the world, not to
see and to hear anybody
the series "The Mentally ill people of Russia” Gennady worked from 2002 to
2004. The first drawings were made in Omsk, in psychiatric hospital on the
1st line where he lived with his parents after the war. Then he drew in
hospitals in Kostroma and in Kaliningrad, in Blagoveshchensk and in
Birobidzhan, in Magadan, in Kamyshin, in Kazan, in Syktyvkar...
The Mentally ill people of Russia” series has something in common with
"War of Autographs". But if in the first series of the artist, were
not only war victims, but also the wounded heroes, here the victims are all.
"... The grey-bearded
person entered the room, humble shape more reminding the wanderer, than the
master, whose works gained wide popularity. He opened an impressive format
folder and began one by one to show the drawings. Made in pencil, they
possessed such a magic that heart - clenched the people offended by God,
looked from the sheets, appealing to favor. I felt the same shock in my youth
when I saw "Kaprichos" by immortal Goya for the first time. But
Goya drew the infernalny world, and Dobrov draws from life, erecting it up to
the height of a bible parable. It proceeds today nearby, but we cowardly
pretend that we don't suspect about its existence...
he, talented and highly educated, chose the so tearing soul subject, I didn't ask him about it.
Probably, such real creators are to be, who force over the bases and make us
to look at the world by other eyes. They advance time in the search so
recognition comes to them with delay. Creating masterpieces which are
estimated subsequently by the fabulous sums, often they are doomed to
poverty, if, of course, to consider as poverty a certain set of material
creativity of Gennady Dobrov demanded?
Yes, it is. Because the
compassion to which his works of art appeal,
induces to mercy. And the world needs
Truth" July 18, 2003.
"Separate сhambers for scabies homeless people".
Kostroma psychiatric hospital.
"Here we all sit
on Article 102
- murder". Kazan medium security psychiatric
hospital intensive tracking. 2003.
«A letter to parents to Chukotka
from their daughter, whom they have long since abandoned». Magadan psychiatric hospital. 2003.
The Mentally ill people of Russia" is so unusually called a series of drawings of the Moscow artist
Gennady Mikhaylovich Dobrov. At once after the exit it drew attention - despite
the medical term - the most "motley" audience - not only by amazing
skill of the author, but by his special attitude towards the chosen subject.
Some years of work - 50 portraits, the whole gallery of the inhabitants of
the provincial mental hospitals, district "grief houses"...
saw these works - the doctor, the colleague artist, the militaryman or the
rural person, the inhabitant or the intellectual - he will find in them
something important for himself and he undoubtedly becomes a little another
person, a little more human, conscientious, wise.
Dobrov is not the first in this "extreme" subject. There is not and
was not, evidently, a big artist who doesn’t reflect on the tragedy of
madness. Bosch, Brueghel, Goya, Van-Gogh... - here some of the brightest
on the medieval paintings, angry, ugly, pity; madmen in the German, French,
Spanish painting; "dream of reason" - yesterday and today...
a simple person a soul illness – is a tightly boarded dark room where it is
better not to look to, a nightmare, the most terrible of executions.
the artist - an occasion to ask the most formidable questions to himself, to his
time and – to God.
this series Dobrov got ready through all his life.
– the impressions of the Omsk childhood, very first, just a boyish plan and -
the last project of his life; here – a qualitatively new step on his unusual
A silent cozy art-studio in
the ancient area of Moscow, with a overgrown garden, with a big pear-tree
showering fruits in autumn, with a whole team of cats and a noisy husky
Martha, - this is almost an idyllic monastery where faithful Margarita, the
wife and the first assistant in works, always waited for the Master,
irreplaceable Lyusya, - was the temporary "port of registry" of the
always somewhere went, or gathered, or had already come back and to start
considering new expedition. And it is interesting: for many years of our
communication I have never heard that Dobrov created something by request. It
seems that he received
orders from the Lord God.
Afghanistan the artist has brought the series which has stunned the
Muscovites by the works the drawn under attacks, on the streets of the ruined
cities, in the hospitals and on the roads; his "The Afghan Diaries"
are still waited for the publisher.
broke in the refugee camps when people ran from there, he could spend hours to
draw in the thrown barracks of the concentration camps of the World War II -
and came back home with lots of drawings and traveling records.
the beard like Tolstoi, simply, almost poorly dressed, he went, as having the
power, there, where the mighty of this world has no pass - and all the doors
mysteriously opened before him.
Dobrov is one of the best draftsmen of his time; in 1997 he "was nominated
to the State Award; his works were exposed in the most prestigious halls of
Moscow; the authority of the artist is indisputable in the chosen by him
sphere. Still a step – another one, and he could make a brilliant career of
the «court artist», but it would be anyone, only not Dobrov.
- like a vibrating string, set up by someone once and for all on the one tormenting
note of a
pain and suffering.
whatever occurred around, whatever bases were unsteady, governors changed,
wars stormed or peace descended on the earth - Dobrov wrote his enormous
chronicle of grief, and did it a l w a
Kostroma, Kaliningrad, Blagoveshchensk, Birobidzhan, Magadan, Kamyshin -
"a coolest route" of the artist this time, the Russian "grief
houses", provincial mental hospitals...
are two incomprehensible secrets which equally attract and frighten: Death
and Madness; because, practically, it is one secret.
madness as in death, there is no category of time - here forever "31
martobrja". It is "Elizium of shadows" which, apparently,
existed from a century and always raised the central question: is madness the
area of Existence, or - is the non-Existence? Or, what is more exact and more
terrible – the area outside of Genesis?
chamber - to chamber, from camera - to
camera, from one prison insulator to another one – the artist Dobrov goes to
these "the forgotten settlements", listening to, as the great
Florentine, terrible and shrill confessions, looking into the faces of
people, as if alive entered in the Book of Dead.
Mentally ill people of Russia» series there are 50 drawings - portraits,
sketches of everyday life, the whole gallery of characters, destinies,
diagnoses... He worked with a pencil, quickly, densely, in a mode of "a
front strip", and at once - clean, in the style of the old realistic
general, by nature, Dobrov - is the deepest realist. He shouldn't
"disorganize" a form, build something new, unusual in colors and
forms. He has another task.
world is fantastic for Dobrov especially in its extreme points: wars,
madnesses, crimes, - in those extreme conditions where there is a constant
feeling of a thin side between life and death.
"Letters from home. Tears of a psychopath". Kaliningrad strict regime psychiatric hospital. 2002.
records - explanations to the portraits of the mentally ill people
imperceptibly turn into the short stories, as a spring squeezed, collisions
of the unwritten novels.
passions burn down these souls!
is the abandoned Romeo eternally waiting his Farida, and there - "the
prisoner of honor", brutally revenged for old, still children's,
humiliation, here is a 40-year-old girl with Down grieving for
"father-scoundrel", there - "spouses" eternally in love
from a female chamber of chronically ill, "a fighter for truth” - the
"Aryan" who has forever got confused in the prison corridors, the
Yakut girl dreaming of the native land... Their clinical records fit into one
or two words, deafening, as the death sentence: "is betrayed",
"is thrown", "is deceived", "is scolded",
"is mutilated", "is almost killed".
our eyes there is the origin of absolutely new art - documentary genre. There
is a search - on a joint of the fine arts, literature, science – of a modern
language, trying to say that is hidden from eyes, is locked behind seven
seals, the language adequate to the scale of this reality.
fear, despair, rage, tenderness - everything is naked, brought to the extreme
degree and - at once stood in one point where there is no movement, there is
no time - their place is occupied by "one motionless idea", as from
if the house where the light burned yesterday, live voices and the laughter
was heard, and today everybody left it and, who knows, whether people will
return there? As in the sick Tamara's unsolved history who is sitting on the
chair, having drawn her feet, having densely captured the head that nobody
and nothing to see, and so – for 56 years...
to Dobrov the soul illness - is a strange intermediate space nor yet death,
and not live areas. Here - the terrible tension of the immovability, that
makes the main torment of the sufferer.
The person alive, the person dead; the patient spoiled, fallen, gone mad,
destroyed by a torment of
inexpressible pain. Pain in these walls - and in the drawings of the
master - the main thing making the person, his main feature and a sign of
Life. Where is pain – there is the place of people alive.
Only Orpheus, only Dante
dare to descend to the country of the Dead; it is allowed to the artist to look
for the person where he, maybe, not present.
pass these twilight spaces, force and fearlessness of not an ordinary person
is necessary: superforce, and maximum of fearlessness, a special, method is
special method of the master is very simple, but it isn't either transfer or
copying. It it a gift you’ve born with. Dobrov's method is his ability to the
greatest compassion. His path - the
path of the selfless ascetic, you can’t
teach it, as you can’t teach holiness.
He cries over every living person, in each finding the wreckage of
some grand design, and in this sense each of his works is also a prayer.
loneliness of the forgotten, the lost, the desperate comes to the end in his
portraits, in short stories - parables – as the world, at last, have heard
trees and high herbs are swaying when the artist sees off to old mortuary of
the hospital unfortunate deceased
person whom he drew just yesterday. He alone sees off him, and mourns, and it seems
that the nature mourns together with him. Who knows whom the earth leaves now
who have suffered, perhaps, for all
the living people…
screenwriter, literary critic, member of trade-union
committee of the Moscow playwrights