Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
Sister City Connection
P.O. Box 1747
Waterville, ME 04903-1747
Write to Us
Street in Kotlas

Home > Projects > Arts Exchange

Meet Two Artists from Kotlas


"Orange," by Andrei Ikonnikov.

Bearing 21 rolled-up paintings by their fellow Kotlas artists, Viktor Korotayev and Andrei Ikonnikov arrived in Waterville on June 4. Official guests of the Kotlas Connection, they will be staying six weeks, until July 18, with Pat Hanson, in Oakland. Their goals for the visit, besides having a nice American experience, are to paint, to meet Waterville artists, and to participate in an exchange of technical ideas with the area's artistic community. The 21 paintings that they brought are among the 33 works by Kotlassians now on display at the P.A.G.E. Gallery in Waterville. (The P.A.G.E. Gallery, then located in The Center on Main Street, has long since been closed.)

The two artists are talented oil painters and have been friends for a very long time through their artistic hobby. Both are 36 years old and married. Korotayev lives with his wife and 8-year-old daughter in Vychegodsky, an outlying district of Kotlas, approximately 12 miles from the city's center. He was originally planning to become a doctor, but while in medical school, in Archangel, he became interested in painting. After four years, he dropped out of medical school to pursue his art. Although he subsequently attended evening classes at an art institute in St. Petersburg, he feels that he learned more from studying works of the old masters and the world around him than from any formal art training.

"Wood Trail"

"The Wood Trail," by Andrei Ikonnikov.

Currently, Korotayev works as sign painter for the railroad. During the Communist era, he also produced propaganda posters. In his free time, he paints his own works. These include landscapes; still lifes; historical, religious, and political scenes; and portraits, including a series on the tsars. He also paints portraits on commission, from photographs of his subjects. He has produced several such works for U.S. residents over the past few years and expects to do a couple more while he is here.

Meanwhile, Ikonnikov, his wife, and 12-year-old daughter live in Kotlas proper. He manages a small advertising agency, which arose from his previous work as an artist in the city's Department of Culture. His shop does multicolor printing using computers. At present, he has very little competition in this area. He is working hard to make this small enterprise a success.

Ikonnikov is also president of the Kotlas Artists Association, a post that he has held since his election six years ago. This non-profit organization has existed for over three decades. It holds an annual exhibit and sale of works by its members, who currently number around 30 live throughout the Kotlas area. Korotayev is an active member of the association. Between exhibits, Ikonnikov displays and sells works by Kotlas area artists at his advertising agency.

"Overgrown Stream"

"The Overgrown Stream," by Gennady Shipitsyn.

With running the advertising agency and the artists' association, Ikonnikov does not have as much time as he would like to have to work on his own paintings, although he generally manages to squeeze out an hour a day. He produces mainly landscapes.

Ikonnikov and Korotayev have both been keeping busy during their visit to the United States. Between the two of them, they have produced a dozen new paintings since their arrival, which have been included in the exhibit at the P.A.G.E. Gallery. They have viewed paintings in the Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, the Colby College Museum of Art, as well as museums in Boston and New York City. They have also enjoyed of northern New England's natural beauty at Reed State Park, Mt. Washington, and Bailey Island. Finally, they saw the legislature in action during its special session in June, posed for pictures with the Speaker Libby Mitchell and the Waterville House delegation, and were introduced to the full House of Representatives.


"Haystacks," by Valentina Golubeva.

Both artists are enjoying their visit and have been impressed by what they've seen here. Summing up his American experience, Korotayev says, "We had heard a lot about America as a rich and civilized country where each person can live how he wants. And all of this was confirmed when we first cast our eyes on America in real life. The pretty homes, the clean streets, the well-kept parks — they all make the very best impression. Among the Americans, we have met only respectable, smiling people. And the roads in America have been carried to an astounding level of perfection: wide and smooth as a mirror. Everything speaks of the high standard of living in this country."

Ikonnikov adds, "To spend some time in America is for me a fairy tale . . . [that] has come true. I have seen a lot of friendly faces, good people, and the beauty of America. But the most important thing is to become more aware of the strength of friendship between our [sister] cities."

by Gregor Smith, with Marianne Hubert

This article was originally published in the Summer 1997 issue of the Kotlas Connection's newsletter. Subsequent exhibits of the paintings were held at the Main Street Café, in October, at the Bangor Symphony Orchestra's Russian Weekend in November, at Thomas College in December, and in the Thayer Art Gallery of MaineGeneral Medical Center in April 1998.

Viktor Gennadevich Korotayev died of natural causes at the end of January 2002. He was 40 years old. Memorializing him in Kotlas newspaper Dvinskaya Pravda, a group of his Kotlas colleagues wrote, "[t]he paintings of V.G. Korotayev, landscapes and portraits, stood out for their rich mastery, strict realism, and deep penetration into the private world of their subjects. The canvasses from his brush are filled with love for people and native nature. They reflect the rich spiritual world of the artist, his high moral qualities, and deep understanding of true values."