Viktor Nikolaevich Volkhin, Decorated house
About the Artist/Site
Old houses in the Eastern European or Russian countryside often have a wonderful artistic appeal, decorated as they may be with wood carving by local craftsmen in a traditional style. Occasionally, however, it happens that the owner of the property himself designs and installs these decorations. In such a case, the creation could be referred to as an art environment.
One example of such a creation is Sergey Kirillov’s decorated house in the small Russian community of Kunara, some 70 kilometers north of the large city of Yekaterinburg in the Sverdlovsk region (see http://spacesarchives.org/explore/collection/environment/sergey-ivanovich-kirillov-decorated-house/). Kirillov decorated his house in the 1950s and ‘60s, and his art environment has subsequently received a significant amount of publicity in Russia and has become well known. Interestingly, Viktor Volkhin was also a blacksmith, and his home is also located near Yekaterinburg.
Viktor followed his father in this profession, as Nikolai Danilovich Volkhin (1860-1943), was a blacksmith in Berjozovski, a city that currently has some 60.000 inhabitants. Little is known about the younger Volkhin except for his death date of October 1982 and that he single-handedly decorated the façade of his house with colorful wood carving and illustrative paintings, often done in high relief.
The front side of the house has various components; one section has several windows, a number of entrance doors with turrets resting on colorfully-painted pieces of tin, and a double-door entrance gate. These various components have been embellished in many different ways, both with colorful wood carving and with equally colorful illustrations that reference local folk stories and fairy tales.
Both doors of the centrally located entrance gate have a central part with wooden radiations, and their upper and lower parts are adorned with illustrations. The one on top of the right door depicts a woman who exchanges a strong word with a man, a reference to Pushkin's story of the fisherman, his wife, and the goldfish (note 1). The picture of the bear with a basket on top of the left door of the entrance gate may refer to the tale of the girl Masha who gets lost in the forest, ends up in the home of a bear, and by a ploy is returned to her family home in a basket carried by the bear (note 2).
The façade has a large variety of comparable illustrations that refer to Russian fairy tales and folk stories. But other decorations on the facade refer to a famous Russian animated TV series named Ну, погоди! (Wait a minute!) (note 3). The illustrations on the bottom of the doors of the entrance gate depict snowy landscapes.
The facade of Volkhin’s former house, which has a modernized interior, looks well maintained. More good news is that it is now protected by the state as a monument of wooden decorated architecture. This might be the first (and only) art environment in Russia with such a status.
-Henk van Es
Map & Site Information
2 ulitsa Vorotnikova
Berezovskiy, Sverdlovskaya oblast', 623700 ru
Latitude/Longitude: 56.912744 / 60.78907
2 ulitsa Vorotnikova, Berezovskiy, Sverdlovskaya oblast', 623700, Russia
Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast
Kunara, Sverdlovskaya oblast'
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