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In April, 2017 the Moscow Shalyapin House Museum featured a very successful opening of the “Liechtenstein Phenomenon: Musical and Visual Arts” exhibition, organized by the Liechtenstein National Museum jointly with the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture. The exhibition featured paintings and graphic works by Alex Doll, photographs by Oliver Mark and an exposition dedicated to the Liechtenstein composer Josef Gabriel von Rheinberger.
The principal museum of the tiny European state pays great attention to international cultural bonds and constantly carries out exhibition exchanges. Prof. Rainer Vollkommer, Director of the Liechtenstein National Museum tells about the history behind the Russian project and about international bonds of the museum.
“Liechtenstein Phenomenon: Musical and Visual Arts” exhibition, organized by the Liechtenstein National Museum
jointly with the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture, photo by © Giulia Ilina
About Liechtenstein in Shalyapin House Museum, photo by © Giulia Ilina
- Professor Vollkommer, could you tell us how this exhibition project was conceived?
- Our countries, Liechtenstein and Russia, have established diplomatic relations comparatively recently; we celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2014. It is then, during the course of cultural events ― including the postage stamps exhibition opened by His Serene Highness The Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein Alois in the Moscow Museum of Modern Art ― appeared the idea of putting together a visual exhibition dedicated to the principality. Alex Doll designed a series of Liechtenstein postage stamps, so he was attending the philatelic exhibition held in the capital at the time.
A Liechtenstein postage stamp dedicated to 2014 Sochi Olympics, authors: A. Doll, N. Brovko, photo by © Giulia Ilina
- How did the museum begin working with Alex Doll?
- It is a rather funny story. At the vernissage several years ago, there was a small table with sheets of paper in the showroom. The paper was intended for visitors; they could draw or write something. So every participant of the exhibition signed a sheet. Among numerous messages I spotted an excellent drawing. It was a pity to throw it away, so I asked to frame and pin it to the wall in one of the museum office rooms, where we usually had coffee. And only in 2013, when Alex Doll took part in a drawing contest for the Liechtenstein postage stamp dedicated to 2014 Sochi Olympics, I realized that Alex was the author of that drawing. I noticed the same style. Alex won the contest along with Natalia Brovko, an artist from Orenburg, and then they created the stamp. Later Alex designed a series of Liechtenstein landscapes ― a very successful project, I believe. I think he is a good artist with a rich palette; he experiments with various styles actively, and he does it well.
- How many Liechtenstein-related exhibitions have you already organized in Russia?
- It was the third exhibition. Previously, the exposition had been shown in Orenburg and Ekaterinburg, now Shalyapin House Museum welcomed us, and we complemented the visual art with several exhibits associated with the composer Josef Gabriel von Rheinberger. In Moscow there was a harmonious convergence of different arts: visuals represented by Alex Doll’s paintings and graphics united with music represented by the exposition devoted to the Liechtenstein composer. A concert was given by the young singers of the Open Opera Project ― Maria Gridneva (she’s sometimes called a modern Maria Callas) and Vitaly Makarenko. Photographs by Oliver Mark were another valuable addition. It was indeed a wonderful combination! I am very grateful to Michail Bryzgalov, General Director of Glinka National Museum Consortium, for his optimism and enormous contribution in organizing this Liechtenstein-related project.
- Where do you plan to present the next exhibition?
- The next exhibition will be held in the North of Russia in a charming city of Vologda. We are going to present Alex Doll’s works and photographs by Oliver Mark. By means of painting and photography we will show landscapes and panoramas of our country, we’ll tell about its citizens.
Prof. Rainer Volkommer at the exhibition opening, photo by © Giulia Ilina
- Mister Vollkommer, you’ve visited Russia often. What is your impression of Russian museums?
- I do love Russian museums. They constitute an integral part of the rich Russian culture. Your museums are always full of people and it is wonderful! I’m impressed that even the smallest of Russian museums always have a piano. And people visit museums not only to appreciate the exhibits, but also to listen to music or recitals. It is a unique example for the whole world! There are numerous well-equipped museums in the Central Europe, but they are nothing like this. I think that love for music is a true Russian treasure, the cultural heritage in all its senses.
Rainer Vollkommer is actively developing the international bonds of the museum, WEB photo
- You are telling about Liechtenstein not only in Europe, but across the whole globe. You frequently visit China, Singapore and Indonesia. What is the most important thing for you in such international exchanges?
- I find it very important to meet people, to socialize, to make friends. Culture allows to understand and to get to know each other better in this complicated world. It is the essence of cultural cooperation for me. Culture is the bridge that connects people.
Alex Doll donates an Easter egg painted in the iconography style to the museum, photo © liechtenstein.li
Opening of a personal exhibition of the Kazakh artist Leyla Makhat “The Grand Steppe and White Mountains”.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan holds a speech in Switzerland, photo by © Giulia Ilina
- And a couple of words about international projects of your museum...
Currently, the museum houses the following international exhibitions: “Christian Art from Bulgaria” (till August 27th, 2017) with unique objects of the Byzantium epoch; “New Look from Kalinin’s Eyes” dedicated to the Russian artist Vyacheslav Kalinin (till June 11th, 2017); “Aboard ― Globalization and Identity” which features paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, digital art and installations of the Indonesian collector Wiyu Wahono (till June 11th, 2017); “The Great Steppe and White Mountains” ― a personal exhibition of the Kazakh artist Leyla Makhat (till June 18th, 2017); “Bruno Kauffmann, the Stamp Designer” dedicated to one of the most famous Liechtenstein artists still alive (till October 29th, 2017). Recently, Alex Doll has donated an Easter egg, painted in the iconography style, to the museum. Young singers of the Open Opera Project duet gave an amazing concert with accompaniment by Yelena Buchel, the pianist. As you can see, there are lots of projects! We want Liechtenstein citizens and visitors to get familiar with the diversity of the world culture in order to understand each other better. The second half of 2017 will welcome visitors to our museum with a rich and interesting program. Visit us and see by yourselves!
Giulia Ilina, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
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