Why would a well-regarded writer who took his vocation seriously expend a great deal of creative energy on another art form? Although Alexei Remizov’s original prose has entered the Russian literary canon, his artistic capacity was fully realized only after decades of experimentation with imagery as well, culminating in a writing process that relied as much on drawing as it did on language. Between 1932 and 1949, Remizov made over two hundred handwritten, illustrated albums that mix India ink and watercolor drawings with collages and texts. These albums represent a threshold in his oeuvre that allowed the writer into a world of genuinely synthetic art. The new medium of drawing offered Remizov a novel mode of expression, unburdened by his enviable writer’s work ethic, and provided just the right formal outlet for the unrestrained and unrestrainable content of his art.
JULIA FRIEDMAN is a Russian-born art historian, writer and curator living in Tokyo. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Brown University in 2005 specializing in 19th and 20th century art. At present, she is an Assistant Professor at Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies where she teaches modern and contemporary art history. She is also a regular contributor to Artforum magazine. Her interdisciplinary research on European Modernism, Russian émigré art and book art resulted in the monograph Beyond Symbolism and Surrealism: Alexei Remizov’s Synthetic Art that was just published by Northwestern UP.