The mural depicted above shows a map in the form of a globe with the landmarks and historical sites of the provincial town of Borovsk in Russia, which is located some 115 kilometers south-west of Moscow.
This is one of the dozens of frescoes made by Vladimir A. Ovchinnikov, which embellish the walls of the buildings in this town.
this picture and the next ones by Vladimir Butenko
(this picture made in december 2016)
Ovchinnikov all his life was interested in making drawings and paintings, but his busy job gave him little chance to do so. However, when retired he had time enough and as a self-taught visual artist he went to work.
Already in 2000 he had a first exposition in the local Borovskaya Picture Gallery where he presented some hundred landscapes, still lifes and portraits.
In the period between 2002 and 2005, during four summers, he created some 90 murals.
(photo made december 2016)
He continued this activity untill the present day (early 2017) and meanwhile he has provided the town with such a large number of murals that it has been said that he transformed the city into the largest open air gallery in the world.
The frescoes in particular are located in places with a public function, such as government buildings, the fire station, the library, the court and the hospital, but also in places near shops or markets,
Ovchinnikov’s murals, which predominantly are realised in a very meticolous way and with great attention to detail, include paintings with an illustrative character, such as landscapes.
But many murals have a narrative scope with scenes that relate to historical events and personalities, often in relation with Borovsk or Kaluga, the region where the city is located.
So there is a mural (picture above) of Dmitry Nikolayevich Senyavin (1763-1831), a famous russian admiral who originated in Borovsk.
Another famous person depicted on a mural is Tsiolkovsky, the theoretician of Russian aerospace who lived both in Borovsk and in the Kaluga region.
Above picture also shows that a text is added to the painting. This is also a feature of Ovchinnikov’s artwork.
These texts, often of a poetic nature, mainly have been written by his wife Elvíra Nikolaevna Chastikova, a poet and writer, who published some fourteen books (poetry, storybooks for children).
Well known historical events, especially if somehow related to the history of Borovsk, are another main topic in Ovchinnikov’s oeuvre.
Those murals dealing with events in the ages before the 20th century, such as Napoleon’s campaign in Russia (1812) and the great fire of 1857 that destroyed half of Borovsk, in general were appreciated by the inhabitants and the local authorities.
However, when in 2005 Ovchinnikov got involved with the rescue of an abandoned church and made a critical dyptich with pictures of the mayor of Moscow and the governor of the region, he got the reproach to cause unrest.
In August 2016 a just completed artwork/monument named Gulag Archipelago, with pictures of twenty victims of political terror, was daubed with red and yellow paint, an event that became national news.
In the summer of 2016 Ovchinnikov incidentally also made a twenty meters long frescoe on a wall along Lenin street, in which he portrays twenty artists who worked in Borovsk in the 20th century.
Ovchinnikov probably painted his murals directly on unprepared surfaces of bare brick or plaster. Especially in the case of brick this gives a specific expression to the painting, as can be seen in the picture of admiral Senyavin in this post, but the unprepared base may also result in fragility of the paintings.
* Website Rutlib.com with an article (undated) about life and work of the artist
* Website Mochaloff.ru with a large number of pictures of the frescoes by Tom Illeni
* Website Nikatv.ru (july 2016) with pictures of Ovchinnikov making a new, large mural portraying twenty artists
* Series of pictures of the frescoes on Live Journal
* Website (jan 2014) with a photo-excursion along Ovchinnivikov’s artwork, departing from the mural of the globe
* Article by Denis Boyarinov (nov 2016) on website Taki Dela, with information about the vandalism of august 2016
* Video by Sergey Kuznetsov (Youtube, 4’15”, uploaded august 2008)
murals can be seen in public space