It happened again. First, days are passing by unhurriedly like a slow river and then - all of a sudden - an avalanche of emotions and events come over you; there must be some kind of a physical law about it…
Completely surprising evening yesterday in a company of John Buttrick. John performed at the Zurich's Jecklin Musikhaus - Mozart, Brahms, and Schubert - the atmosphere was intimate and magic. Then more magic happened when I found myself drinking wine in a company of this brilliant person and his friends. Inspiring music, inspiring people.
And inspiring movies. "Words and pictures" is the best film I have seen in months (even that it got poor critics), and no, not because it was Clive Owen who played a leading role of an English teacher with a serious alcohol problem. Although to be honest, Clive Owen can just lie on a sofa for an hour and a half I ll still watch :-). Juliette Binoche was brilliant too playing an artist suffering from a severe rheumatoid arthritis.
And books. I came across several good books lately. It has been ages since I read fiction in Russian, and for Christmas I got a novel by Lyudmila Ulitskaya, a successful Russian author and activist.
"A book can be an inspiration or a murder weapon. Ulitskaya is fascinated by these transformations, but even more so by the peculiar trajectories that create fate—the travels of a person, a picture, a book. If there is a strange journey to be traced, she cannot resist the retelling." ( The New Yorker)
I am reading her novel “Daniel Stein, Interpreter,” based on the life of Oswald Rufeisen, Holocaust survivor turned Carmelite monk. This book is a journey in time and space, the plot takes you from Belorussian woods, occupied by fascists in the 1940s, to Palestine in the 60es and America of the 80s. Each page is punctured with reflections on politics and religion, and destiny.
So this is what I wanted to share with you before the slow river of boredom takes over me again. Until the next tsunami.
The day was rainy yesterday, but just an hour before the sunset clouds cleared up and light was just perfect for a portrait photo session with Elena, who bravely run with me up the hill to Baden's castle ruins to catch that perfect moment. We were deliberately out of breath, but you wouldn't notice, would you? :-)
"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
A fascinating ability of Swiss people to create a festive mood "out of nothing". Bern, the capital of Switzerland (normally a quiet little town) had an unusual flair this morning as I approached the parliament building: streets were full of confetti and laughing people, drinking hot wine and biting into onion pies and onion sausages.
The Zibelemärit (Bernese German dialect; English: Onion market) was full on already, first stands open as early as 4 in the morning. It is every forth Monday of November that main city's main square dresses up in colorful onion tresses and onion wreaths for the annual onion fair.
"Historical research indicates that the Zibelemärit originated in the 1850s with marmettes, farmer's wives from around Murten, coming to Berne at around St. Martin's Day to sell their produce. However, a persistent local legend holds that the Zibelemärit is a much older festivity. According to this legend, the Bernese awarded the people from the nearby city of Fribourg the right to sell onions in the city in reward for their aid after a fire destroyed much of Berne in 1405."*
So I took a few photos of that beautiful Monday morning, soon this very square will become a cosy skating ring, with music and hot chocolate but let's enjoy the last autumn sparkles.
Finally I laid my hands on recent photos from the beautiful Orta lake where I have become an accidental wedding guest. It was my first Italian wedding and I loved it! And I love Italians for their laid-back attitude: no-one paid attention to a tourist crawling on the floor with a camera between the guests.
The ceremony in the church took forever and the invitees outside started to melt slowly and pass another round of refreshing sparkling wine. Worst of all - nobody was taking their pictures; the photographer was inside the cathedral, trapped with the bride and groom. So after a certain round of prosecco I became courageous enough to pull out my new (yey!) camera. Here is a few impressions of that special afternoon…
I am going for two week holidays… again! :-) Home, sweet home this time, September in Tajikistan is my favorite time of the year and it's my moms' birthday in a few days. But at the moment I am sitting in Moscow's Domodedovo airport - five hours of waiting ahead of me. No problem at all, since I have two nice reads in my handbag.
Ok, maybe it's not an ideal title for an airplane read, but somehow this book caught my attention at the airport bookshop. Here is the book's description: "Jonathan Tropper's funny, touching family story about a man named Silver who has begun to accept that his life isn't going to turn out as he expected.
So when he learns that his heart requires emergency, lifesaving surgery, Silver makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to use what little time he has left to repair the relationship with his daughter, become a better man, and live in the moment - even if that moment isn't destined to last very long".
The second read is something completely different. It is a poetry book by my friend Marina Zamorina, first samples have finally arrived and got my well deserved copy, since I did Marina's cover photo :-).
Marina has a gift of seeing poetry in everyday objects; she transports reader into her world - real at one moment, imaginary the next. "Un certain hiver" is a glimpse into a woman's soul, sometimes melancholic, other times ecstatic and always inexplicable…
Well, well, September is showing itself from the better side, the sun has finally come back from long vacation. Taking advantage of a good weather I asked my friend Marina to model for my "Summertime sadness" photo session. Armed with butterflies and paperer boats we met on the Lausanne promenade near the Olympic Museum. Here are some results of the two hour fun.
If you ever came to Zürich on a business trip you surely were taken to Kronenhalle - the best traditional restaurant in town at Bellevue square. Bought and restored by Gottleib and Hulda Zumsteg in 1925, this place has become a refuge for many European artists fleeing from spreading nazism in neighboring European countries.
Later, Zumsteg's son Gustave started to built the art collection in the restaurant. The famous silk trader, he came to know couturiers like Channel, Dior, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Givenchy and through them the doors where open to became friend with artists like Chagall, Miró, Giacomettis and many others. Since it was a meeting place for the local bourgeoisie, Kronenhalle has become a perfect showroom for international artists.
Each art work was acquired, inexpensively, Gustav managed to persuade Chagall to design the stained glass window on the outside wall, Picasso to donate several of his sketches, Giacometti to design the tables and lamps.
A couple of weeks ago I had a pleasure of contemplating this Chagal's sunset, sitting at the nearby table under the Miro's painting. But it is not only the art collection which attracts globe trotters from all over the world - Krone's finest menu will sweep you off the feet: traditional Swiss recipes are served from a trolley where they are kept warm, you'll be advised on the most suitable wine to go with your Zürich style veal and rösti, and I heard that their Robespierre filet makes quite a spectacle.
And just two steps away from Bellevue you'll find another restaurant\wine bar which will steal your attention and tell you a completely different story about the town's gastronomical institution. The story that I heard on Friday night from the owner of Weisse Rose goes that Hulda (supposedly the founder of Kronenhlle) was working at this very restaurant and Gottlieb Zumsteg came to Weisse Rose for his favorite soup and the two got married later.
While listening to intriguing stories that go back one century, I was observed by these two gentlemen, Peter and Ernst Weingartner, the regular guests at the Weisse Rose. They whispered to me later that I shouldn't listen to the owner's tales, as Jan Aerts is a "big lier".
This Dutchman who came to Switzerland in the sixties is a big art collector too. With his partner Juan Cardozo (a painter himself) they built up a serious collection of naïve and outsider art, a fraction of which is on display at their little yet legendary establishment, consisting of six wooden tables.
Aerts's collection includes several paintings of Hans Krusi, for example (at the photo below), who came by the Schweizerhof Hotel at Zürich's Bahnhofstrasse (where Aerts has landed a job as a trainee) to sell flowers for a cup of hot chocolate in return. After his death in 1995, Krusi is considered one of the biggest Swiss outsider artists, leaving behind near 4000 sketches, drawings, paintings and photographs.
So here is my weekend story. If you are in Zürich go to Bellevue square, to Weisse Rose restaurant and then after a good wine experience go to Kronenhalle for their heavenly chocolate mousse… Maybe these two neighbors are not that unlikely after all.
In the train from Lausanne to Zurich, my head is turningbetween the computer screen and beautiful vineyards, ornamenting the Leman lakeside, modest sunshine is reaching down through fluffy white clouds… In spite of terrible torrents and mid-October temperatures, this week spent in Lausanne was very special and saturated with small surprises and discoveries. And in spite the hours of work, I had time to enjoy the lake - observing swans, fishermen, and tourists. It was a kind of escape.
A great escape, maybe?.. if I can borrow the name of a nice resto I discovered these days.
Rue de la Madeleine 18
They serve tastiest burgers, the atmosphere is informal, the crowd is colorful and the location is perfect.
The great escape is located two steps away from the Rumine palace, where the biggest surprise was awaiting. Stepping in with some visitors to marvel at the palace's finest renaissance decor, we saw this poster:
For the first time in Switzerland, the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne is showing an outstanding collection of major works from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Around seventy paintings document the finest achievements of the Russian landscape school in the 19th century.
The sea, mountains, forests and skies of the vast Empire, the passage of the seasons from dawn to nightfall, peasant customs, and rural and urban buildings convey that new sensibility and that aspiration for renewal. The artists exhibited include Ivan Aivazovsky, Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Mikhail Nesterov, Ilya Repin, Alexei Savrasov, and Vasily Vereshchagin.
Slightly changing our day's program we went in, and it was a true escape into the magic of Russian landscape. Beautifully painted showrooms varied from dark grey to bright pink, enhancing and accentuating each painting. You have time till 5th October to go and see the exposition, and I need to change trains soon.
Summer goes on…or at least they say so: it is pretty grey outside of my window :-), Swiss summer is rather capricious this year. However it is only a six-hour drive from Zürich to what seems an eternal sunshine… Italian and French riviera. What a temptation!.. and as we know it: the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it :-)
So here is a few impressions from a short recent trip from Sanremo to Nice.
As it happens, it was a last trip for my little old camera, which had been my best non-human friend in the past five years. R.I.P my little Canon and thank you for wonderful memories :-)
"Your internal dialogue has got to be different from what you say.
And, you know, in film, hopefully that registers and speaks volumes.
It's always the unspoken word and what's happening behind
someone's eyes that makes it so rich".
Does it happen to you, that you have too much too say and you end up saying nothing at all eventually?.. So many things happened in the past two months… Corfu was unspeakably beautiful and rich, I have met wonderful and precious people, I have also lost someone special this summer.
Yes, yes, this unforgettable summer, a mixture of bitter and sweet, like the Aperol spritz at the seaside café in Sanremo some days ago…
Arillas beach, Corfu
What happens to all those unspoken words?.. Some become songs, thats for sure. Looking for a song on Youtube, I came across this beautiful piece by Skunk Anansie. My unspoken words turned into a Replay button tonight…
…I hope you get to meet your hero I hope she never lets you down I hope she never tears you heart out Or runs away without a sound I hope you get to choose your weapons And fire first without a cause I hope you get meet your hero I hope she's what you're waiting for
Ladies and Gentlemen, finally! I am leaving to Corfu, two and a half weeks of bliss (hopefully) and many, many pictures :-)
I am leaving tomorrow at dawn with my best friend and her Mini :-)... Yes, we are going by car, a much delayed teenage trip.. :-) And yes, we don't have a spare tire, but instead many beautiful summer dresses :-).
“Yes, you see, there’s no such thing as coincidence.
There are no accidents in life. Everything that happens
is the result of a calculated move that leads us to where we are.”
― J.M. Darhower, Sempre: Redemption
Some days ago I had to say Goodbye to one of my paintings, my dapple has found a beautiful home.
2014, acrylic on canvas
And then a funny thing happened - I got a new neighbor, a couple of neighbors to be precise, I would like to make friends with them, well, I already asked a permission to do their portraits, they agreed :-) Here is a first one...
Rainy, rainy days again... but we did have some sun last weekend, I took advantage of its' soft evening light to do some pictures. My exercise was to shoot against the sun, many people are horrified by it, but in fact it could bring some very nice effects. That is what I came up with:
Nicolas, an engineer from Wettingen, is enjoying his neighbor's freshly cut grass.
Marina, Zürich, relaxing in her garden after a long week.
Besides, Marina is a poet and we just did a shoot for her upcoming book, I am very excited about seeing my work on a book cover. :-)
Looking through my last years' pictures I found this old commode which I brightened up some time ago. Here is a "before" photo... the poor thing was given a rustic touch with random strokes and I had to come to rescue. :-)
My first impulse was to try something edgy and bright, something a la Delphine La Lorme, a painter and designer from Paris. Here is a couple of her chic and provocative pieces.
But at the end I chose a solution a bit less risqué and painted my commode bright blue (can't name a shade now since I mixed several pigments), adding miniature squarish silver knobs for a modern touch , et Voila!
"I fall in love with almost every person I photograph.
I want to get close. This is personal for me"
How was your day? I spent mine with my God son who just turned 3. And that's how I remember him on his first birthday, when he bursted into tears just before the candle ceremony :-) Time really flies and I realize I have to spend more time with people I love...
Apart from that, turning up a bit early for an appointment this morning I was sitting in a waiting room leafing Das Ideale Heim magazine where I came across a wonderful Swiss photographer Catherine Gailloud and her blog My Day With. Of course the evening passed looking at her work: splendid swiss landscapes and great architecture, lovely interiors and lively portraits... She even bothers to translate her interviews into English (with all my love to French language...:-) More of her work is on her website: www.cgailloud.com
In that very same waiting room I had a chance to discover another great person and photographer - Stephanie Sinclair, whose pictures are known to millions, especially lovers of National Geographic where she is a regular contributor. Cinclair is an American photographer and a human rights fighter.
You probably recognize this photo she took in Afghanistan.
Her photo series, “Child Brides,” examines “how children continue to be forced into marriage in more than 50 countries around the world.” The project was the result of eight years of work in Afghanistan, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, and Yemen. Here is the projects website tooyoungtowed.org.
So that was my day. Since we are talking photography here, may I brag a little? I just got my box of new flyers! Happy as Alex with his birthday cake today :-)