In Soviet times there used to be a magazine called “America”. It was an illustrated monthly edition in Russia, issued by the US State Secretary Department between 1956 and 1995. As a counterpart to Soviet Propaganda it was intended to inform Soviet citizens about American life. All together 454 issues of this magazine were issued, proposed for the USSR audience with 50000 editions of each issue.
It is known that at least in 1972 the magazine was published in Beirut and shipped to Yugoslavia by sea. One of the articles in this magazine dated approximately 1973 – 1975 was called “The most delicious American mushrooms” and described the 17 kinds of most exquisite mushrooms in America. For the USSR, America was always the greatest enemy and the worst nightmare, especially for ordinary people.
Taking its starting point in this article, the exhibition explores an imaginary mushroom culture embodied in real people, semi-fairy characters, living somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Russian villages and fairytale forests. These mushrooms’ area of habitat is quite wide – they can be easily found in the minibus, at the family feast, among the children in a classroom, etc. They sprout from imagination and live their autonomous lives as they find salvation in barely perceptible values, half-forgotten traditions, their special understanding of mental values and total rejection of the new.
On the edges of the mysterious Russian forests the most delicious American mushrooms live their dreamy lives. Seemingly free and equal, they have their own households, sing songs, wander around the forest and love each other.
Through watercolours, the artist illustrates the adventures, everyday scenes and fantastic stories of the mushroom people. Rooted in the Russian forest, a spiritual resource, which inspires artists and folktales while also serving as a component of cultural identity, the mushrooms are specialties afraid of being consumed by the Western mind-set.
Exposition in SABSAY gallery, Copenhagen, Danmark
photo Georg Jagunov
The most delicious American mushrooms, diptych
300 х 200 сm, oil on canvas
An article from the magazine
- Leucoagaricus procerus. The pileus is topped with flakes. It grows in forests and virgin lands under the bushes in late summer and early fall.
- Cantharellus cibarius. It is coloured in yellow, has a smooth pileus, and long dashing on foot plate.
- Lactarius sanquifluus. Pith of a pileus is coloured in dark red on its fresh fracture
- Cantharellus clavatus. Young specimen’s edges of the pileus have purple tone. With age the pileus becomes olive. They often grow in-group. Can be found in coniferous forests in late summer and early fall.
- Boletinus pictus. The main feature of this mushroom are scales on the pileus covered with hairs. The body is yellow. It grows under the white pine in the summer and early autumn, after heavy rains.
- Philloporus rhodoxanthus. The pileus looks dry without any glance. It is coloured in pale red, ocher or olive. It has yellow plates. They can be found in almost all deciduous and coniferous forests of the country.
- Boletus edulis. Feet and pileus can be boiled. Light brown, slightly sticky pileus has tubes instead of plates on its lower side. Boletus is widespread in the Highlands and coniferous forests.
- Lepista nuda. The pileus is smooth and wet. It is coloured in bluish-gray, purple or brown with purple edges. Young specimens the plates are also purple. Grows in coniferous and mixed forests from late summer until late fall.
- Collybia dryophila. It has a yellow or brownish smooth pileus with a size of 5-8 cm. Plates have a pale colouring. This mushroom is widespread in summer, fall, and it he breeds on humus of leaves and sawdust.
- Suillus luteus. Before cooking, the slime from the pileus should be washed off and the spore-bearing layer must be removed. The pileus is russet and the spore-bearing layer is yellow. It grows from September to November in pine forests.
- Dentinum repandum. The pileus has an irregular shape and is sized 7-30 cm. It could be whitish, brown or reddish-brown colour. The pith is white. It grows all over the country in coniferous and deciduous forests from mid-summer to October.
- Morchella esculenta. The pileus is round or conical; it has cells and is coloured in brown.
- Armillaria mellea. There are two types of this mushroom: the one with a smooth yellow pileus grows in late summer in deciduous forests; the other one has brown scaly pileus and can be found in fall in deciduous and coniferous forests.
- Sparassis radicata. A branched mushroom is colored in grayish-brown. It grows in coniferous forests in the season of autumn rains.
- Clavaria pyxidata. It has a grayish-yellow body, grows in June on fallen deciduous trees.
- Marasmius oreades. The pileus is smooth; it is pale or red. Grows circular colonies in spring and fall.
- Coprinus camatus. The pileus is scaly. It has a conical shape.
40 x 30 cm, watercolor, paper
Mushrooms having dinner
|Mushrooms’ bus||Mushrooms’ sex|
|Family and birches I||Family and birches II|
The pisser I
|Near the river||Mushrooms-voyeurs|
|The witch||The pisser II|
Mushrooms selling mushrooms
|Mushrooms-voyeurs part I||Mushrooms-voyeurs part II|
|Mushrooms on vacation||Mushroom-accordionist II|
|Mushroom in a window||The girl and the tiger I|
|Mushroom and a bear||Father and doughter|
|Mushroom-hunter and a dog||The girl and the tiger II|
In the forest
|The pisser II||A village shop|
In the morning to school