In his address at the opening ceremony, Sergei Ivanov said the exhibition was a display of the sublime heritage of Russian stone carving – a craft that Russians have always held in high esteem. He thanked the sculptor’s family for providing the exhibits.
The exhibition, which opened at Patriarch’s Palace today, is Vasily Konovalenko’s first one-man show in today’s Russia. The sculptures, carved stone and jewellery on display come from the Moscow-based Samotsvety precious stone museum, Russia’s State Depository for Precious Metals, the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado, the Konovalenkos’ collection, and private collections in Vienna, New York and others – all told, about a hundred carved stone sculptures, drawings, scenery sketches and other works.
Vasily Konovalenko worked at the former Kirovsky, currently Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, where he created opera and ballet scenery. He later turned to stone carving, inspired by Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet “The Stone Flower”. The artist revealed the best features of every stone, and produced a remarkable portrait gallery of historical and folk characters. His portrayals of everyday life in the country are especially touching.
Konovalenko immigrated to the United States in 1981 and became very popular there. Experts rank him alongside Carl Faberge due to his profoundly original concepts, graceful touch, and virtuoso technique.
According to Tatyana Muntyan, the curator of the exhibition and the Faberge collection at the Moscow Kremlin museums, Konovalenko is responsible for the renaissance in the sophisticated technique of stone mosaic, one of the most labour-intensive crafts.
The exhibition is open through August 31.