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Tatyana Apraksina (Татьяна Апраксина) is an artist, a writer and the editor-in-chief of the international cultural magazine Apraksin Blues. Her artistic activity began in St. Petersburg, Russia (then Leningrad, Soviet Union), in the 1970s, and continued there, in Moscow, and internationally, throughout the 1980s and 1990s. At the end of the millennium, she began creating artistic and literary works in the United States, in part using a poetic vision of the landscape of the Pacific coast, in California, to deal with philosophical concerns.

Her family moved to Leningrad in 1963 and settled on the city's Apraksin Lane (Apraksin pereulok) in 1972. Music-inflected unofficial culture began to intersect with her life. Her formal artistic training was negligible. "Apraksina" became her artistic pseudonym in 1974. That year, as she began to produce her first significant series of graphic work, her milieu came to include the core members of the group Akvarium, as well as nascent songwriter "Mike" Naumenko, who by the early 1980s as the founder of Zoopark would gain recognition as a pivotal figure in Russian rock music. Songs including "Sweet N" (Sladkaya N), written in the wake of a catalyzing if problematic 1978 affair, would become classics for their and subsequent generations.

By the start of the 1980s, work lettering and illustrating posters for movie theaters had provided the backdrop for Apraksina's development in fine art. She had some contact with Soviet Nonconformist Art; although not a part of the movement, she shared its realities of night raids, eavesdropping and police informers. In 1983, professional and creative ambivalence caused her to abandon theater work; she became by default a "free" artist, walking the sensitive line this position implied under the Soviet policy of mandatory employment. In 1984, she completed a cycle of monochrome, expressionist city landscapes, using material largely drawn from neighboring Apraksin Court (Apraksin Dvor) and exhibited them at Leningrad's library of the Academy of Sciences. The exhibit, unexpectedly popular, was cut short; new KGB intervention ensued, on grounds of the scenes' disheveled appearance, the artists' ties with foreigners, and so on. The exhibit reopened, however, at the suburban House of Architects.

Concurrently, Apraksina had shifted her creative attention from underground (if classically inflected, in St. Petersburg) aesthetics to high art, again through music, most importantly as embodied by the Leningrad Philharmonic in its last years under the conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky. The involvement of Dmitry Sollertinsky (son of Ivan Sollertinsky) facilitated her study of the orchestra and its musicians. She received a disused studio at the philharmonic, and her first philharmonic exhibit, including sketches drawn from rehearsals, opened that autumn. Apart from Mravinsky, the violinist Mikhail Gantvarg was central to her philharmonic work; the violinist's portrait and the earlier Red Fiddler reflect this influence, as does a series of subsequent works. Internal politics resulted in her loss of the philharmonic studio; her tie with the philharmonic and classical music continued, however, as she acted on Sollertinsky's suggestion to paint a memorial portrait of Dmitry Shostakovich. The portrait, created with the participation and support of the composer Boris Tischenko, Shostakovich's student and close eyewitness, appeared in 1986. Bequeathed to the Leningrad Conservatory, it hung in the auditorium where Shostakovich had taught, then went to the Composers' Union and the collection of the composer and musical authority Andrei Petrov. Her next major work of portraiture was of a still-living composer, Alexander Lokshin, in Moscow, where she exhibited first at the Kurchatov Institute and then at the Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture in 1987. She also met with and produced a portrait of the composer Mieczysław Weinberg.

In this period, Apraksina's paintings were featured in the magazines Music in the U.S.S.R., Soviet Music and Soviet Union. Among Apraksina's final 1980s paintings were works inspired by the Leningrad Philharmonic's performance of Verdi's Requiem, by Mikhail Gantvarg's Soloists of Leningrad ensemble, by Goethe's Faust, and by the Borodin Quartet, with whom she had begun to work while in Moscow.

In 1989, permission and funding through the Soros Foundation were secured for her travel with more than thirty paintings to the United States, where she exhibited and delivered a series of lectures (later compiled and expanded as American Lectures) for academic, cultural and media centers throughout the country. In 1991, she exhibited in Leipzig, concurrently studying Bach's St. Thomas Church. In 1993, she entered St. Petersburg's Oriental Institute, to systematize her longtime study of Eastern thought.

Building on experience producing a samizdat journal Athenian Class (1994), in 1995, she founded the magazine Apraksin Blues and began in 1996 to organize an annual cultural festival, March Solo, while continuing to paint, write and lecture on her ideas (significantly at the Sollertinsky Music Festival in Vitebsk and at Saint Petersburg State University). Apraksin Blues won a "Golden Gong" media award in 1997.

In 1999, Apraksina returned to the United States and began a long period of creative work based primarily in California's Santa Lucia Mountains. Among works written that year were an epic poem California Psalms (St. Petersburg: Neva, 2005, 2007; laureate in Roszarubezhtsenr international poetry competition, 2008); an additional verse cycle, Looking at Fujiyama... (St. Petersburg: Reality and Subject, 2001, 2002) followed in 2000. Her reflections on Alexander Lokshin (1998, 2002) have gone through multiple editions. Her reporting for her own Apraksin Blues has covered a range of subjects, from the California poet Robinson Jeffers (2002) to the writer Jack Kerouac in Big Sur (2004). Her latest work has had a number of significant presentations by its author and others in both the United States and Europe.

Documentary features on Apraksina have been produced for, among others, Lentelfilm (Concordance AKA Harmony, 1989) and other Russian television programs (such as Fifth Wheel, St. Petersburg, 1992), as well as for the European culture channel Arte.

External links

Apraksin Blues site: [1] T. Apraksina's California Psalms and biographical information in Neva, St. Petersburg: [2] On festival "March Solo III": [3] Program of festival "March Solo III"/"Age of Music" exhibit opening at St. Petersburg State University: [4] On festival "March Solo I": [5] About Tatyana Apraksina and "Mike" Naumenko in Alexander Kushnir's 100 Cassette Albums of Soviet Rock: [6] About Tatyana Apraksina and Alexander Lokshin: [7] "St. Petersburg Encyclopedia" entry: [8] Ochakovo Films catalog listing of "Harmony" film: [9] Composer Richard Cameron-Wolfe's cantata "Measure of Love and Silence," setting of a poem by Tatyana Apraksina, to premiere in St. Petersburg in 2008: [10] Mikhail Gantvarg at Russian Wikipedia: ru:Гантварг, Михаил Ханович



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