From Pious to Lubricious: Alexei Remizov’s Tale Solomoniia in Words and Images

Auteur / Author: 
Julia FRIEDMAN (School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japon)
Mardi 23 Août 2011 - 15:15
34-1. Les frontières du livre


Unable to fit his creative élan entirely within the bounds of the visual or literary, Russian modernist Alexei Remizov (1877–1957) experimented with graphic art, eventually inventing a new genre of handwritten, illustrated albums that mix india ink and watercolor drawings with collages and texts. While over a period of some fifty years Remizov worked in a variety of visual genres and attained impressive proficiency in many, only the albums allowed him to fulfill his capacity for both drawing and writing.

My paper will examine the evolution of Remizov’s 1928 tale Solomoniia, treated in six conventional print publications and three illustrated albums over a period of more than twenty years. To create the desired focus for each illustrated album, Remizov transformed his mesmerizing tale of phallic possession through variations in the albums’ format. For example, the explicitly erotic tone of a 1935 album version with French text makes it an intentional contribution to the surrealists’ investigation of hysteria and libertinism. The differences in content between the 1935 album and the two Russian-language versions, especially the obvious omission of all but the most sexually explicit images and the inclusion of the drawing that declares that, “the universe is an act of pleasure” are telling. Through the particular combination of text and image, a specific verbal-visual encounter brought about by the cultural context of this work, the album offers a wonton connotation not present in the Russian-language renditions. The 1935 album, which exists on the interface of two cultures and two medias, offers an insight into Remizov’s artistic idiom of thresholds.

I will illustrate my presentation with images from Remizov’s illustrated albums. Most of these are in private collections and have never been presented publically.