I rarely get to draw nowadays, which is a cause for frustration I'll refrain from discussing. So, whenever the opportunity arises, I jump on it, as is the case with this portrait of Heidegger. Of course, suffering from a severe case of perfectionism, I felt dissatisfied with this drawing (not having looked at it for about a year), so I put it through a filter.

This feels right now.

At least for the next few weeks. :) 

The Necklace (WIP)

In the past few weeks, I've been buried under the less appealing aspects of graphic design, that is, indexing, layouts, along with a steady onslaught of translation and editing. What's good for the book-publishing industry is not always great for my sanity.

So I've decided that I must sit down a couple of times a week and sketch. This is one of those drawings. 

It's obviously very much incomplete, so don't judge harshly. :)


Thought it would be fun to draw a young Richard Wagner in conté. So I did: 

Distinct features and a giant genius forehead make for good practice!

nina with wagner 700 px.jpg

Interestingly, my basset, Roediger, sat down on the drawing in progress on several occasions, then spat (!) at it. He's never done that to any other artworks of mine before.

Since Roediger is already quite partial to classical-derived metal (being mine and all), and is pretty much a dog of colossal intellect (being mine and all), we might have a clear case of reincarnation at hand: going to play Ride Of The Valkyries to test the theory! ;) 

Der Wächter des Seins

Recently promising myself to sketch fairly regularly, I never imagined that I'd feel the need to illustrate certain concepts intrinsic to the historical-philosophical destiny of the West (specifically, its conclusion). Yet, a number of photo illustrations later (here and here), I've decided to conflate two related concepts--the night watchman from Nietzsche and the guardian of Being from Heidegger--into a single conté sketch. A personification, of course. 

"I had turned my back on all life, thus I dreamed. I had become a night watchman and a guardian of tombs upon the lonely mountain castle of death. Up there I guarded his coffins: the musty vaults were full of such marks of triumph. Life that had been overcome looked at me out of glass coffins."
(Nietzsche describing Zarathustra's dream)

Can you guess who was the source for this image? 

The White Cloud of Genghis Khan

The White Cloud of Genghis Khan

by Chingiz Aitmatov (1990).

Translation (from Russian) mine.

This literary work uses oral history—a nomadic story from Central Asia about Genghis Khan, which Aitmatov described as “poorly correlating with history, but quite indicative of national memory” in the introduction to the work.


[As he headed westward,] [t]he most remarkable thing was not Genghis Khan’s retinue—fearless kezeguls and zhasauls whose life belonged to Genghis Khan more than it was their own—and that is why they were selected like blades, one in a hundred. Nor was it their horses, rare as nuggets of gold in nature. No, the most remarkable aspect of that campaign was something completely different. The entire time, a cloud floated over the head of Genghis Khan, protecting him from the sun. Wherever he went, so did the cloud. This was a small white cloud the size of a large yurt following him as if it were a living creature. And it never occurred to anyone—after all, as if there are no other clouds up above—that this was a sign that the Heavens themselves manifested their blessing to this Lord of the Worlds in this particular manner. As for Genghis Khan himself, he was aware of the latter, watching the cloud little by little and convincing himself further and further that this truly was a sign of Tengri-the-Sky’s will.

A certain nomadic prophet, whom Genghis Khan once permitted to speak with him, predicted the cloud’s appearance. […]  The foreigner was tan, had a stern look, an impressive beard, and dry facial features.


My sketch is based on some of the photos I took of Native Americans riding horses bare-back. 

- I came to you, O’ Great Khagan, to tell you—he passed the message through his Uighur interpreter—that by the will of the Supreme Heaven, you will receive a special sign from above. 

Surprised, Genghis Khan paused for a moment. The newcomer is either mad, or does not understand just how this might end for him.

- What is the sign, and how do you know that?—asked the All-Powerful barely containing irritation and frowning.

- How I know cannot be disclosed. As for the sign, this I will tell you: there will be a cloud over your head, and it will follow you.

- A cloud?!—Not even concealing his amazement, exclaimed Genghis Khan, sharply raising his eyebrows. And everyone around involuntarily tensed up anticipating an explosion of Khan’s wrath. The interpreter’s lips turned white from fear. Punishment could affect him, too.

- Yes, a cloud,—said the diviner.—This will be a gesture by the Supreme Heaven, blessing your highest position on earth. But you must take care of this cloud because, having lost it, you will also lose your power.


June 22, 1941

"On the 22nd of June, exactly at 4 pm, Kiev was bombed, and they announced to us that the war had begun...", so goes a well-known Soviet-era song

As someone with an extensive academic background in Russian history and culture, I view the Second World War as a battle between Modernity's three principal ideologies for the right to be its ultimate expression as well as a formative, baptismal experience for the USSR, specifically, as a new geopolitical entity. But as an ordinary person, I also realize that the war had affected the lives of just about every person in the country. That is why--even over 70 years later--we, Russians, remember the 22nd of June.

This is not just a political slogan.

Those of us with a sense of rootedness (no matter where we are in the world) really think this way. Nosce te ipsum is nothing without understanding our ancestors.

I always refer to the photograph below taken on that very day in Tbilisi, modern-day Georgia. My grandparents dressed in their best and went out to enjoy the summer weekend with their young son (my uncle), which included a photo session. Their facial expressions are the result of learning that their country was officially in the state of war. (This is somewhat different from the aesthetics of melancholy in historic photographs, which I mentioned elsewhere.)

Photo taken on 22-June-1941 in Tbilisi, USSR.

Photo taken on 22-June-1941 in Tbilisi, USSR.

My grandfather showed up at a military office as a volunteer almost immediately only to be rejected for poor health and eyesight. An engineer and an architect, he went on to build bomb shelters. A man of calligraphic precision, he earned extra money for the young family to make ends meet by creating dainty dress shoes out of cardboard (!) and other available materials for local socialites. My other set of grandparents participated in the Murmansk Run (which Westerns probably know as part of Lend-Lease).

I share this photograph with my friends on social networks every June 22nd. Today, I felt compelled to sketch my grandmother--my namesake--whom I've never met (she passed away long before my birth).