“I’m attracted to Asian north” / 24 April 2012

Радуга бронза кость мамонта

A sculptor from Saint Petersburg – who has designed the award “The sky line” – visited Hong-Kong and was amazed with the evolution of Asian region.

Sergey Falkin often takes part in the competitions in foreign countries. He has already been to the USA, Germany, France (the Louvre). Recently he has returned from Hong-Kong where he had visited an international paleontological exhibition «Baby mammoth of Ice Age». The main exhibit was the mammoth Lyuba, which had been found on the Yuribey river in 2007. Among other organizers there was the International Mammoth committee and the Museum and Exhibition Complex of I.S. Shemanovsky in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous area.

– Sergey, how did you get connected to the International Mammoth committee?

I suppose this was the providence. It just happens. You try a subject, this subject leaves you and suddenly after many years it comes back to you. It looks like an accident but there are a low, I think. The fact is that I started curving bones earlier then stones in 80s. That time I met a good professional in mammoths Nicolay Kuzmich Vereshagin. In early 90s in a gallery in New York 15 bone art things were exhibited and sold. But after that I followed other routs and forgot about mammoth bones.

After many years suddenly the coordinator of the International Mammoth committee asked me to design the committee logo. Crucially the Mammoth committee is an International non-profit-making organization which raises moneys for paleontological evolvement and research of mammoth kingdom. Of course I was greatly pleased and interested in work with that organization. I drew a sketch and we met. Sergey Gorbunov came to my workshop. He liked the logo. And that is the way our partnership started. As far as the committee was preparing for the exhibition in Hong-Kong a thought about making some new exhibits has started up. Specially for that kind of work the committee send 6 mammoth tusks. As a result there had been made six artworks: 4 artworks were mine and 2 artworks were created by a famous Saint Petersburg blacksmith Igor Andruchin.

– What kind of impressions do you have after the exhibition?

The main furor was made by our Lyuba, the baby mammoth which history had been published many times. The exhibition is paleontological and Lyuba presented the section about the Ice age. She attracted a huge interest of many guests and the mass media.

As for me, of course, another subject is the most valuable, in particular, it is everything connected to Chinese bones carving. We got used to think that it is something primitive (except things with their history from the State Hermitage and the Museum of Ethnography). It turned to be a mistake as the level of carving in China is fantastic. They make unique things based on their schools’ traditions. There are no special new ideas but there is fabulous mastery and delicate style – the essence of Chinese tradition. Need to say after that trip I’ve greatly changed my attitude to Chinese in all spheres, not just about carving.

– Why have you?

Their hard working and thoroughness are the real power. They have already excelled the New World and the Old World. Then you visit the country all of these things became obvious. Their set of mind (traits of character typical for every Chinese) brought the state to an unheard-of economic growth. It seems there is no field where Chinese haven’t made the grade. It is marvelous how much money floated there. Along some valuations there is more than a half of the world money. Purchasing power is fabulous. There are lines on the streets to many boutiques in Honk-Kong. People come specially to buy brand clothes, jewelry, perfumes in the free trade zone. At the same time in Europe boutiques keep losing customers. In Russia there are inappreciably small numbers of people who can afford expensive things.

We were in Macao, the island which is in an hour ride by speed-boat away. Macao is known as an analog of Las Vegas. There is the center of gambling in China. We tripped over a few casinos and I can say just one thing what has been made there is fantastic. And that will be better. Notably the overwhelming majority of visitors of that kind of establishment are rich Chinese, not Europeans. I think, there aren’t more than 10 percent of Europeans.

– What perspectives as a sculpture do you see on that path?

I went there without special hopes for a commercial success. I rather wanted to meet with a country that is new for me, to see the traditional bone carving artworks. But it has just happened. A friend of mine, Andrey Bukanov, who is doing business in that region, introduced me to a powerful Chinese businessman from Makao. He got interested in my artworks and invited us to see him. In China that man owns a bone carving factory there is producing astonishingly beautiful artworks. In Makao he has an office there we had a chance to see these artworks. As a result we have arranged that he would promote my artworks. Yet in another month there will be published a catalogue of my artworks.

– You have been working with different materials and now you concentrate on bones. What new opportunities do you expect from that subject?

I work with ideas. I have an idea to make a sculpture from the spinal bone of a whale. I have plans of some collaborative works on damascene with Igor Andruchin. I an certain about one thing, I’m attracted to big sculpture now and I’m going to work in that field (The smallest work by Sergey Falkin – “Boquet” – is made from Brazilian agate and heights 4 centimeter. Now it is a part of a private collection in Saint Petersburg. The biggest one – bronze “Rooster” from the series “Mummers plays” – heights 2 meters 10 centimeter and is at the moment in a private collection in the USA .– A remark by author). The “bone theme” has been developing in all countries where bone and tusk carvings from different animals such as mammoths, whales, deers, elephants are produced. And in every country carving reflects the local color. I’m attracted to bone carving of North Asia because that hasn’t got links to religion, there is more freedom, more philosophy and that form art is closer to space. And I have a lot of ideas which are connected especially to the Asian north and its nature, animals, myths and legends. In particular this topic inspires me now. And that’s the last thing to worry about the kind of material this will be made of.

Author Olga Rogozina

“Vecherniy Peterburg” (Evening Saint Petersburg) newspaper/28.04.2012

Translator Vera Badalyan