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Tour of the Yaroslavl region private museums: visiting the founder of the Emalis enamel art Museum

The team of the Association of Private Museums of Russia headed by Alexei Shaburov made a tour of the Yaroslavl Region museums. Upon arrival in Yaroslavl, they stayed in the hospitable house of Alexander Andreevich Karikh.

Alexander Andreevich Karikh is the People’s Artist of Russia, it was he who in 1992 created the famous International Emalis Creative Center, where professional artists come from all over the world every year to master new techniques and methods of working in the “hot enamel” technique. Over the past 18 years, he has held 29 international practical symposia, in which more than 130 people took part.

“The interest in doing enamel came to me unexpectedly. In 1986 I was doing a monumental work and I needed to include enamel in it. So that I could master this technology, the Union of Artists of the USSR sent me to Hungary in the city of Kecskemet. Then there was an exchange of creative groups. Hungarian artists came to the USSR to study painting, and we went there to try ourselves in enamel art. The enamel touched me. It offers improvisation – you compose, and the fire makes its own adjustments. And this is interesting. This is the kind of game that cheers you up all the time. You always try to predict how the enamel will behave under the influence of fire: you make samples, you watch how it contacts copper, what effects it gives when one paint is applied to another,” says Alexander Andreevich.

Karikh visited Hungary twice. On his next visit there in 1989, he met the German artist Gertrude Rietmann-Fischer, president of the International Association of Western European Enamel Artists. She liked his work and she invited him to Germany to her symposium as an assistant professor. There he shared his experience with enamel artists from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and it was there that he had the idea to create something similar in Russia. In 1991, on the eve of the putsch, through the Union of Artists of the USSR, he invited European masters to Yaroslavl for his first symposium. Then there was a series of exhibitions “Enamel. Textile. Ceramics ” in Moscow, Tokyo, Tokuoko, Nagasaki, Milan, Salou, which he conducted jointly with the International Association of Enamel Artists. And after the rumor about him spread throughout Europe and masters from all over the world reached out to him, Alexander Andreevich turned to the director of the Department of Culture of the Yaroslavl Region Vladimir Georgievich Izvekov with a request to provide him with premises.

“Then the governor was Anatoly Ivanovich Lisitsyn, the mayor was Viktor Vladimirovich Volonchunas, everyone tried to help. Everything was crumbling around, and this madman still needs something …”, the artist says about himself. So in 1995 he got a house at Tveritskaya emb., building 15, where after restoration the Emalis enamel art Museum was located. Today it is the only museum in Russia which collection consists of works in hot enamel technique by Russian and foreign artists. There are paintings by Italian, American, Chinese, French, Luxembourgish, German, Ukrainian, Belarusian and, of course, Russian masters. Most of the works were done in the center “Emalis”, since every artist who comes here had to leave one of his works here – these are the conditions for participation in the symposium – and I must say that each of them arouses genuine interest. That is why a visit to the Emalis Enamel Art Museum is always a great pleasure. Well, the opportunity to visit the holy of holies, the workshop of a folk artist, is a gift of fate. The team of the Association of Private Museums was lucky, it was blessed to plunge into the world of glass, canvases and paints by Alexander Karikh, for which she is incredibly grateful to him.