Czeslaw Znamierowski, an artist who died forty years ago, is gaining fame in the 21st century. His artwork recently sold for $120,000 in China, setting a personal record. Znamerovsky’s paintings began to be bought up by oriental auctions, galleries and collectors, according to the Chinese news agencies. In a relatively short time, the cost of Cheslav Znamerovsky’s paintings increased from several hundred to tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Imagine for a moment, that you are a miner in Siberia at the end of the nineteenth century, slogging with your colleagues through the moss-laden, muck-infused waters of the mire in search of gold, only to stumble upon something far more rare. This is precisely what occurred in 1890, within the Sverdlovsk region of Russia’s Ural Mountains, when a team of laborers who were busy excavating a peat bog inadvertently discovered a strange and ornate wooden figure featuring an eerie human face. Resting at an approximate depth of four meters beneath the surface of the acidic, oxygen-low, and therefore anti-bacterial conditions of the bog that had preserved it, the mysterious object that would come to be known as the “Shigir Idol” (named after the Shigir bog it was found within) was discovered in a series of 10 fragments.
“For him there were no boundaries between nationalities. He readily made friends with the natives of any country…. He was no stranger to Latvians, Lithuanians, Jews, Tatars, Karaites, Russians. He was ready to help everyone if possible.”
At a time of great division in the Eastern European community a lesson in multiculturalism, unity and brotherhood can be learned from an unusual person, a Soviet Lithuanian artist Czeslaw Znamierowski (23 May 1890 – 9 August 1977). He was born in Imperial Russia on Latvian territory into a Polish family. At the age of 32 he became a citizen of the Soviet Union and soon after moved permanently to Lithuania, where he lived until his last day.
Although lately Western scholars have begun to pay attention to various manifestations of the rise of ethnic Russian nationalism as distinct from official “Soviet patriotism” they have virtually ignored the phenomenon of Il’ia Glazunov, a Soviet painter who is also a foremost protagonist of that nationalism. The chief reason for this lack of scholarly interest lies in the fact that not only has Glazunov been a controversial figure but he was also accused of Russian chauvinism, anti-Semitism, and of being a KGB agent.