Nudes – Drawing
The working method of Kalmaeva is realistic, based on observation. The oil and watercolor paintings of Kalmaeva are worked through pieces with attention to structure and especially composition. In watercolors and drawings, she usually uses a looser and faster method.
Still Lifes (watercolor)
Landscapes – Painting
Nudes – Painting
Still-Lifes – painting
Project: Portaits of Old People
Project “De Rijdende Rechter”
Project: Plenty To Go On
My art project “PLENTY TO GO ON” I started in the beginning of the year 1997. During all these years I have taken a photo’s of the toilets at the different countries.
A person of Western culture uses euphemisms when talking about some physiological processes… Conventional names veil the place of the “process”: toilet, lavatory, Loo, WC, restroom…
The “toilet” theme is extremely rare in literature, film, and photography, whereas in the fine arts it is not represented at all. A hidden part of human life…
My photo collection of street toilets in the countries of Europe was first shown in the Dutch town of Vlissingen (“DeWillem3” municipal gallery) at the “BELARU-TION” exhibition in July–September 2001.
The photo series was supplemented by an installation. The viewers put a small change on the plate – as if for visiting the toilet. It was on the eve of introducing the Euro. Getting rid of the unnecessary coins was associated with the relief after visiting the toilet. The “EN PASSANT” group exhibition, which took place in June 2002 in the Grand Church of the town of Goes, developed my initial project and was also accompanied by an installation. I put my “toilet bowl” on the church column. The visitors posed for the photograph sitting on the toilet “throne”… The participants of the performance were offered respirators and funny masks. The play obliterated the conventional line between “decency” and “indecency”. The pictures were immediately exposed for viewing. The project was a success and called for continuation.
In the center of the town of Middelburg, with the help of the administration of the “DeDRUKKERY” Book Center, I opened my own “toilet” gallery with a constantly changing exposition of photos and pictures. In September 2002, it displayed the final exhibition of the photo contest “Toilet: Beautiful, Awful, and Original”. The photos that had been sent in for the contest were supplied with commentaries and stories. The winners got prizes with the emblem of the contest elaborated by me.
In 2003, I announced another photo competition “People in the Toilet”. The collection is being replenished.
I make computer collages where I combine my pictures of people in the toilet with the faces of famous personages. In my virtual “toilet” one can find Yeltsin, Bush, Mao, and Margaret Thatcher…
The next stage in the development of my project is a series of oil paintings. Each picture is related to a historic event, a heroic person, a well-known work of art and toilet.
My motto is: giving the problem a fresh look, getting rid of the complexes.
I showed this series at the group exhibition in the “Tacheles” gallery of Berlin in October 2003.
In June- August 2007 my project was shown in the Dutch town of Vlissingen (“DeWillem3” municipal gallery for modern art). At the present I have made 22 oil paintings dedicated to the famous artists of political events. A large toilet was build in the room is as imposing as a throne. It was not intended for actual use thought visitor can leave behind a message on the wall – with a felt tip pen. The tiles with their little ‘sayings’ can serve as inspiration. One of them, for example, says ‘Elke hek ruikt graag zijn eigen drek’. Roughly translated, it means ‘Every fool likes to smell his own poo’.
In June – August 2008 project was shown at the kunsthall “Tacheles” Oranienburger Strasse 54-56a in Berlin. The exhibition has a Name “Die letzten tabus unserer zeit”.
Here ware not only 26 paintings but also an installation. For the visitors of the exhibition I have constructed and painted two paintings representing big tiles with holes for heads in it, and everyone can put their heads through it and make a photo of themselves.
In September 2008 my project was exhibited in the capital of Belarus Minsk in the gallery “Podzemka”. There ware not only the paintings but on the tiles in the toilet of the gallery I draw all kind of expressions toilet-theme. And the visitor can leave behind a message on the tile with a felt tip pen. I have got a lot of new expressions written down by the public.
In 2009, COS Zeeland from Goes (centre for international cooperation) celebrate its 25 year old jubilees. To celebrate this does they in association with CBK Zeeland among the other things by organizing a culture project called “Freedom4all”. The topic the situation of refugees/migrants in province of Zeeland in relation to the program “Four Freedom” has been formulated by Roosevelt academy. Six artists can be inspired by the tale of migrants and make work which is exhibited at CBK Zeeland in Middelburg. The artists are: Wido Blokland, Ans Couwenberg, Tamara Dees, Marcel de Jong, Ludmila Kalmaeva and Paul & Menno the Nooijer. Every artist or artist duet makes a triad works. Every work has a format of 100 x 70 cm (altitude x breadth). The work arises under a huge scanner that state established at Zeeuws Archief. The picture which arises here is converted at “Printin-art-studio” into 12-kleuren pigment print. Stuck on dibond and behind shining acryl plate (so-called Diasec) the work is presented at CBK Zeeland. Text in Russian.
Toilet Project – Arsenaal 2010
The National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk: THE SPHERE OF HUMAN (2016)
Ludmila Mikhailovna Kalmaeva was born in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, in 1946. Her keen interest in painting at school determined her way in life. …The family was preparing to celebrate Easter, cakes were being baked and eggs painted with dye made from onion skins. A visiting artist was scratching the surface of the painted eggs with a needle, and Lucia was watching in awe at how Christ’s stunningly beautiful face was taking shape… The girl held out her autograph album to the artist. With a sure hand, he made a quick color-pencil sketch of a blue tit pecking at a rosy apple; an evening landscape with haystacks, a blue forest and the rim of an orange sun, too … Impressionist style, they would say now.
That evening, the girl understood that artists hold power over the world. Pencil in hand, they could do anything. To be an artist was the best thing in the world! Ludmila’s mother took her to the children’s art school of Sergey Petrovich Katkov, a renowned teacher. In the studio, they painted still lives, landscapes, imaginative compositions – work molded artists. At home, Ludmila would spend whole nights in front of the easel; she also drew at school. The girl longed to create a kind of formula of an object, a sign which, like a letter, could be easily recognized and remembered. In class, she would make quick abstract drawings, trying to discern something special in them… With a few additional strokes, she made the picture clear to everybody. Thus, she practiced creating an expressive visual form. After school, L. Kalmaeva entered the Belarusian State Art and Theatre Institute, which in those years had no departments of painting, sculpture and graphics, so she had to choose one of the applied arts.
Ludmila opted for the textile ornament department. The teaching staff was comprised of interesting, talented painters and graphic artists: P. Krokholiov, F. Doroshevich, P. Maslennikov, and M. Vetik. For the first-year students, those masters were next to gods descending from heaven… They taught by the method of example, taking a brush or a pencil and adjusting the work. The girl spent four years at the department of applied arts, coming to an ever more distinct understanding that her vocation was graphic art. “My childhood’s dream was graphic art,” wrote the young artist. “The clear line of a drawing leads me into the world of exquisite invention – the world of mystery…” Ludmila dropped out of the Minsk Institute and went to Tallinn where she enrolled as a second-year student at the graphics department of the ESSR State Art Institute. The Baltic Republics had actually never been truly Soviet; the artists had not been constrained by directives “from the top”, they created freely and boldly. Just as free were the students’ relations with the professors – P. Luhtein, U. Okas, A. Hoidre. The world-known artists allowed young people to address them as “seltsimes” (comrade). The Estonian school of graphic art inculcated into the students a love of experiment and high professionalism. During her study period in Estonia, Ludmila Kalmaeva worked out her own approach to drawing. The teachers said, “Put your strokes according to the form”.
But the sheet of paper has no volume, while nobody puts strokes on real objects. This contradiction bothered the student, who gradually developed her own philosophy of drawing – a system of transposition of real volume into a depicted one. …A line, fine and sharp, assembled in a bunch, makes a blotch, and a scattered line turns into a chaos and abstraction. From chaos, an object can be recreated to be turned into an assemblage of strokes again… Thinning out and thickening strokes create bulges and hollows, relief on a flat sheet of paper. All this is illusion. It exists only in our mind and depends on our fantasy.
Later, the artist applied to color works her conceptual approach to form. She studied for nearly ten years. Ludmila learned a lot of things and worked out her own principles and convictions. She had evolved as an artist. A ripe fruit falls from the tree. Ludmila returned to Minsk. An artist’s first steps in the USSR… The state system brought pressure to bear upon a person, directing creativity into a politicized channel. Pictures and posters were subjected to ideological control. The artist who came back from Estonia (nearly the West!) was not given a chance: her posters were not printed; her pictures were not bought… She had difficulty earning a living. As years passed, Ludmila Kalmaeva was exhibiting, and her works attracted the public with their fresh and original artistic thinking as well as perfection of craftsmanship.
L. Kalmaeva was invited to teach at the Belarusian Academy of Arts. Teaching students proved a vocation for Ludmila, alongside creative work. She used new methods of teaching (role play and team work) and actively attracted students to “adult” creative activities – participation in international, All-Union and Republican competitions, publishers’ commissions, theatre posters, exhibitions… Students worked on an equal footing with their “seltsimes” – the teacher. The results of the new teaching approach were convincing. In 1977, V. Sidorova won a prize in the Republican Environmental Protection Poster Competition for her course project. Many of L. Kalmaeva’s students took part in the international poster competitions of 1978–1981: “1980 Olympics”, “Soviet–Polish Friendship”, and “Red Cross in Struggle for Peace”. V. Scherbin’s poster on environmental protection (course project) was published by the “Belarus” Publishing House. N. Belevich, I. Golubenko, A. Drozd, E. Lis, A. Los, and V. Scherbin in 1981 became prize winners of the Republican Fire-Prevention Poster Competition for their course projects. In 1982, A. Drozd got an award of the Republican “Red Book” Poster Competition. O. Karpovich and V. Rulkov presented their course projects at the 1984 “Peace and Security” International Competition. Ludmila Kalmaeva gained renown in her native land. Repeatedly, she won awards at All-Union and Republican poster competitions, such as the All-Union Health-Protection Poster Competition (1978), the International “Moscow Olympic Games-80” Poster Competition (1979), the Republican “Poster Struggling for Peace” Competition in Minsk in 1987… For high achievement in her artistic and teaching work, Ludmila Kalmaeva was awarded the medal “For Labour Distinction” in 1986. Moscow, Riga, Tashkent, Brno, Warsaw, Oslo, Sofia, Paris, Damascus, Dublin, Lahti, Reykjavik, Osaka, Sidney – L. Kalmaeva’s works have been displayed in many cities of the globe. As for Ludmila herself, she lived in Minsk and had never been abroad… A person has only one life… But if one moves to another country – there appears an opportunity to live another life ‘from scratch’. In 1991, on marrying Brian Tordoff, an Englishman, Ludmila left for Holland with him. The climate and nature as well as the people’s appearance and mentality – everything was different for the Belarusian woman.
She had to adjust to everything: learn Dutch, furnish her home, find a job and a studio… And the main thing – she had to go on creating under the new circumstances. “During the first years of my life in Holland I found myself in complete social isolation. I had no contacts whatsoever with any artistic associations. I had no earnings of my own,” recalls Ludmila. The artist worked in the streets of her town of Vlissingen. Passers-by, those willing to have ‘they painted’, were queuing up. Half an hour of strenuous work – and there came a portrait painted in pencil, sanguine, charcoal or watercolor. It was a meagerly paid job, for painting was treated as play… It was not easy to make one feel at home in the foreign world. Only years after did L. Kalmaeva open the door of her own studio where she began to teach painting pictures and icons. Students of the “By the Windmill Studio” are adults and pretty wealthy, too. They consider fee-paying classes a good investment. Growing a creative seed in an ordinary adult is quite feasible.
Ludmila Kalmaeva is convinced of it, having developed her own original system of teaching. “Each person is somewhat of an artist,” considers Ludmila. She is going to register the copyright on her teaching methods. In her home country, Ludmila enjoyed painting landscapes. “Belarusian nature is spontaneous, romantic, and seems perfect. In Holland, everything is trimmed, orderly, artificial, and stirs little emotion,” says the artist, who stopped painting from life. A fictional world, full of harmony, light and color, has substituted for the foreign reality; fantastic, fanciful images seek to be embodied. Carnival, circus, fairy-tale… Improvisation and intuition form an important part of the artist’s work. “I work intuitively, without a plan. I cover the surface of the canvas with rhythmical color blotches… This rough product helps me immerse myself in the unconscious… Looking at the canvas, I begin to see random images. I help them to transpire… Then I am carried away into a world of fantasy, forgetting where I am and what I am! But the vague shocks from sub consciousness finally stop…”
The artist puts the brush aside. Some time later, she resumes the interrupted work, trying to enter that world of hers, attentive to her senses… So, it goes on until Ludmila decides that there is nothing more to add. Everything has been said – the work is ready. The master calls her working method “meditation with the canvas”. Work helps the artist live. Natalia Gromyko Ludmila Kalmaeva If a world-famous artist appeared at Ludmila Kalmaeva’s exhibition, he would be likely to address her as “Master Ludmila”… Master Ludmila, allow me to bless your hands… In our time, when we are so short of professionalism, when the fever of amateurishness has spread onto the holy of holies – art, your creations come as a real miracle… “It is an artist’s duty to keep one’s soul tense,” says Ludmila. Her muse is a toiler, a martyr with burnt wings and a deep introspective gaze. “Talent means kindness; it is humanity, a force that unites people…” L. Kalmaeva’s works are known and admired not only in her home country but also in Finland, France, Germany, Syria, the Czech Republic, Poland… “In the future, I suppose, every person is going to be a creator of both the surrounding and the inner world…” And Ludmila Kalmaeva creates, reopening to us the light and shade of existence… I would also call her “a master”. If I did not know her personally. Gentle and so womanly, in the profound and wise sense of the word… Galina Bogdanova]]>