Catching the Big Fish. Part 1

Diversity and Inclusion Exhibition. Russian self-taught artists in The Russian Museum.

By The State Russian Museum

It Is Raining (2016) by Anna ErmolenkoThe State Russian Museum

The exhibition’s title – “Catching the Big Fish” – refers to David Lynch's book, in which he metaphorically compares the creative process to fishing in deep water. Artists find ideas and images within the depths of their personalities,  unconditioned by cultural cliches and stereotypes. For us as organizers, as well as, hopefully, for visitors, this exhibition will be an opportunity to catch a big fish, to discover unexpected images, to refresh our vision.

The artist Sergey Kolosov at the exhibitionThe State Russian Museum

We believe it is necessary to show the artworks of those who live among us, but are excluded from society, who are in isolation on a regular basis. The artists whose creative self-expression is labeled today as Art Brut* and Outsider Art**.

* Art Brut is a term proposed by Jean Dubuffet to name the pieces in his collection what had distinctive authentic characters.

** Outsider Art is the term used in a broad sense for all the art forms that do not conform to conventional criteria.

The opening of the exhibition "Catching the Big Fish"The State Russian Museum

The exhibition took place in September 2020 in the Eastern pavilion of St Michael’s Castle of the Russian museum.  Its aim is to present to the public artworks by self-taught artists, the variety of techniques and materials, as  well as studios and artistic groups which support the authors with special needs. 


More information can be found in the exhibition catalogue on the exhibition’s website (RU).

The exhibition "To Catch a Big Fish"

No Title (2018) by Aleksey DymdymarchenkoThe State Russian Museum

Part 1

ART ZALIV STUDIO: Eugenia Takareva - head of the studio, Tatyana Ishutina - fundraiser, curator of exhibitions

PERSPEKTIVY ART STUDIO: Alexander Ivanov, Oxana Bashta - heads of the studio

SHIROTA & DOLGOTA PROJECT: Natalya Petukhova, Uliya Kurmangalina– curators

STUDIO of PNI №1 Victor Chuvashev, Elena Bulatova - artists, heads of the studio

OPEN STUDIO OF THE RUSSIAN MUSEUM Lidiya Shendereva, Marina Rudina - curators of the project 

The Cheshire Cat (2017) by Sasha SokolovThe State Russian Museum

Tatyana Ishutina & Evgeniya Takareva about curator's tasks
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Art Zaliv Studio [The Gulf of Art]

Art Zaliv Studio of a charitable organization Shag Navstrechu [A Step Towards] works in one of the psychoneurological asylums of Saint Petersburg for the young asylum residents having mental or physical disability.  For them, art and exhibitions are a way to communicate with the outer world and an opportunity for self-realization. Art Zaliv helps to develop their creativity, to overcome the information vacuum, and to integrate them.

The Yolk (Humpty Dumpty) (2017) by Sasha SokolovThe State Russian Museum

Tatyana Ishutina & Eugeniya Takareva about Sasha Sokolov & Artem Dobrodeev
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Eugeniya about Artyem Dobrodeyev and Sasha Sokolov

Eugeniya: These are guys who did not open themselves from the beginning. Sasha Sokolov painted nothing eхсept small houses earlier. After 10 years of work we began to progress and this all resulted in portraits and illustrations.
We had an exhibition including his work’s series for ”Alice in Wonderland”... Generally it all went different ways..

Tatyana: It seems to me that it’s Genya’s [Eugeniya Takareva] great service. Particularly she creates an extremely creative atmosphere in their studio.

No Title, Artyom Dobrodeev, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Artyom Dobrodeev, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Artyom Dobrodeev, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Artyom Dobrodeev’s artworks stand out due to ruthless, not always pleasant honesty. The artist dissects in cold blood various vices and weaknesses, exploring human nature in all manifestations. His characters are colourful and sometimes sarcastic. With a brilliant sense of humour and an intuitive sense of colour, Artyom makes paintings that suggest pondering about tolerance and acceptance of dissent. For him, talking to a beholder through art is the main opportunity to make his point.

Hello, I'm thinking (2020) by Nikita DrugThe State Russian Museum

Nikita Drug

Nikita Drug’s art includes three main themes: airports, vehicles and means of communication. All of them are connected with his wish for freedom. His scrupulous and a bit dry style covers dreams and thoughts, concerning every human being. His artistic view formed after a trip to Crimea. Since then an airport and a plane became the symbols of Big World. Since then Nikita has a dream to visit America. He paints boarding passes, flight information displays etc.

The Airport (2020) by Nikita DrugThe State Russian Museum

Tatyana Ishutina & Evgeniya Takareva about Nikita Drug
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Tatyana Ishutina and Evgeniya Takaryeva about Nikita Drug

Tatyana: The artist visited an airport for the first time. It was his first time out of the orphanage. This impressed him so much.  Не showcases his dream to get to an airport once again in his  works now.

Evgeniya: He dreams to migrate to Toronto, to Los-Angeles. Nikita  constantly draws tickets, boarding passes, organizes  role plays, where airplanes fly or cars drive. He can do it for hours. And the phone as a connection symbol is a very important topic for him.

The Hospital (2020) by Aleksey BarovThe State Russian Museum

Aleksey Barov

Aleksey Barov’s sculptures reflect traumatic memories of his childhood: fire engines, hospital stretchers, railways. He replicates every detail of mechanisms, and you can rarely see people in his compositions. In Aleksey’s art is fire and fire fighters equipment play important role. He says, it’s because an ignition once occurred next to him left a great imprint in his mind. Aleksey works with plasticine, usually for many hours a day. Sculptures are everything for him

The Railroad and the House (2020) by Aleksey BarovThe State Russian Museum

Tatyana Ishutina & Evgeniya Takareva about Alexey Barov
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Tatyana Ishutina and Evgeniya Takaryeva about Aleksey Barov


Tatyana: Zhenya (Evgeniya Takareva) is our supervisor and inspirer. I remember how and with what delight she told me that she found Aleхey Barov. There were sincere and strong emotions!


Evgeniya: Не is a nugget and unique person, whose head is carrying many things. Не doesn’t talk much, hardly speaks at all. But at the same time what kind of energy he transmits throughout his sculptures! Не actually works 24/7 and only has breaks for food and sleep. 

No Title (2018) by Aleksey DymdymarchenkoThe State Russian Museum

Perspektivy Art Studio

Art Studio of the charitable non-governmental organization “Perspektivy” is an art space, founded in 2001 at psychoneurological asylum №3 in Peterhof. It holds an archive of 3000 artworks made during the last 20 years.  The genre variety of stored artworks is vast indeed: from abstract painting and sculpture to photography and sound-art.

No Title, Aleksey Dymdymarchenko, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Aleksey Dymdymarchenko, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Aleksey Dymdymarchenko’s creative style is easy to recognize in his “scattered” graphic compositions consisting of thousands of dots, lines and dashes. He made his “action drawings” turning a box of chalks of all forms and colours over a white sheet of paper, exploring the material’s properties. Sound was also important for Aleksey: while working, he used to listen carefully to the material’s “voice”. Aleksey’s works were presented in several exhibitions in Russia and Europe.

Irina Marina, Olga Serbina, 2018/2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Anna, Olga Serbina, 2018/2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Valentina, Olga Serbina, 2018/2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Every artwork by Olga Serbina is a result of a long and meticulous work: it takes her two or three months to make one drawing. Her favorite media is paper and “styluses” made of markers or felt pens stuck together with tape. Olga’s works were exhibited in Semyonov library (2016) and Street Art Museum (2018) in Petersburg, as well as in Ekaterinburg during the 4-th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art (2017).

No Title (2007) by Elena AgeevaThe State Russian Museum

The studio has been working for the residents of one of the psychoneurological asylums of Saint Petersburg on the institution’s grounds since 2001. Its artists’ works are part of a collection of the Museum of Everything (London).  The studio has been lively engaged in exhibition activity and presented its production in many exhibitions in Russia and abroad, including the Manifesta-10 biennial in Hermitage (2014), Die Schlumper Gallery (Hamburg, 2015), the Ural  Biennial (Ekaterinburg, 2017) etc.

No Title, Elena Ageeva, 2014, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Elena Ageeva, 2016, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Elena Ageeva has developed her own graphic style over the years of work in the studio since 2001. She uses acrylic paints, pastel or gouache and then overlaps a slight ink drawing atop a coloured layer. This combination helps her achieve painterly effects in drawings. Elena’s artworks are in the collection of the Museum of Everything (London), and were presented in several exhibitions in progressive museums of Saint Petersburg.

No Title (2017) by Yulia KosulnikovaThe State Russian Museum

Yliya Kurmangalina about communication with the world through art
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Shirota & Dolgota [Longitude & Latitude] Project

Shirota & Dolgota unites artists, curators and volunteers providing indoor and outdoor art workshops for the residents of psychoneurological asylums. The project also arranges exhibitions, searches for and supports self-taught artists. The project aims to show the art of those living in isolation, to widen their audience and establish the connection between the society and secluded institutions by the means of art. 

No Title, Yuliya Kosulnikova, 2016, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Yulia Kosulnikova, 2018, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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No Title, Yulia Kosulnikova, 2017, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Yuliya Kosulnikova started drawing at the orphanage. She is attracted by medical books and TV-series about doctors, and her works depict this interest, showing everyday life of hospitals and asylums: operating rooms and wards, patients waiting in queues, people in wheelchairs, doctors’ rounds – everything she’s used to. Yulia prefers to work with crayons and pieces of cardboard and covers of sketch books. She has never studied art, and developed her distinctive style on her own. Yulia’s art was shown in several personal and international collective exhibitions with the support of Shirota & Dolgota.

Grotesque (2018) by Vadim MuzykaThe State Russian Museum

Yliya Kurmangalina about inspiration
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Yliya Kurmangalina, Shirota & Dolgota project curator

By simply ignoring such artistic phenomena, we deprive the wide river of contemporary art of its tributaries. Which have always inspired many avant-garde artists. And this [the appearance of art brut in museums] is a worldwide natural process.

The World, Vadim Muzyka, 2017, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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The City, Vadim Muzyka, 2020, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Vadim Muzyka has made art for four years. He draws with his mouth, using different techniques, but often preferring coloured pens and felt pens. He likes art, music and his family.

The fragments of the pictures "City" and "World"The State Russian Museum

Vadim Muzyka

Vadim’s artworks were shown in the exhibition space of inclusive workshops “Prostye Veschi” (“Simple Things”) in Petersburg (2019) and at the “Gazprom” children’s drawing exhibition and competition in Moscow (2018).  

No Title (2020) by Artem LevinskyThe State Russian Museum

Artyom Levinsky

Artyom Levinsky’s art is an example of that lucky case when the author finds his medium. Artyom discovered plasticine as a new reach material during workshops led by Nadezhda Ishkinyaeva in the art studio at the Psychoneurological Asylum №7. He makes canvasses that resemble carpets with peculiar patterns. Following the coloured lines, one can see how the artwork was made, step by step. Making his art Artyom combines traditional weaving techniques and performative practices.

Different Games (2020) by Tatyana TrapeznikovaThe State Russian Museum

Tatiana Trapeznikova

Tatiana Trapeznikova makes graphics, paintings and photographs and writes poems. Due to their compositional, coloristic and ideological integrity, which is a result of her knowledge of art history, good sense of colour, vivid imagination and dramatic biography Tatiana’s works win the attention of professionals, despite the fact that Tatiana doesn’t have academic art education. The artist’s videos were shown at the exhibition “Occupational Safety” in DK Rozy (Saint Petersburg, 2020)

The interview with Tatyana Trapeznikova

The Wolf (2020) by Yuriy KozlovThe State Russian Museum

Open Studio of the Russian Museum

Open Studio of the Russian Museum is a sociocultural project for adults with mental disorders. It was founded in order to give such people an opportunity to work in a space of museum, to make their own artworks and to get involved into the art world.
The studio provides art workshops for the clients of rehabilitation centers and residents of institutions. The workshops are conducted by specialists of the socio-cultural communications department of the Russian museum and artists.

The Woman, Yuriy Kozlov, 2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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The Northern Woman, Yuriy Kozlov, 2020, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Yury Kozlov is a charismatic person, and his speech is full of metaphors. People in military uniform, characters with huge teeth, bizarre women – the artist creates fascinating images, and relates them to historical events (mostly of the World War II) and his own fantasies. Texts are an important part of his paintings: they accompany, frame and complement the image. Yury came to Open Studio with the support of Shirota & Dolgota Project. It had a beneficial effect on his art and life.

The interview with artist Yuriy KozlovThe State Russian Museum

The interview with Uriy Kozlov

The Wonderful World (2019) by Ivan KolenkoThe State Russian Museum

Ivan Kolenko

Ivan Kolenko creates his own mysterious reality. In his paintings everything is talking, parts of the images are communicating with each other and with the spectator. He prefers watercolor. Ivan doesn’t like talking, especially to strangers. Instead, he paints, and sometimes his paintings are more eloquent than words. His work in Open Studio alongside with fellow-artists has enriched his life, making him more independent and assured.     

The Front Staircase with Cleopatra (2020) by Aleksey KrivoshlykovThe State Russian Museum

Aleksey Krivoshlykov

Aleksey Krivoshlykov came to the Open Studio in 2016. The museum inspires him, which is reflected in his latest works. He’s a delicate and quiet person, expressing his emotions in art. Choosing a subject for an artwork, he considers every tiny detail. He carefully draws every fragment. He never leaves his paintings unfinished. Aleksey’s styles differ, but in every piece one can always see his bright personality and ability to express complicated thoughts.     

No Title (2020) by Sergey KolosovThe State Russian Museum

Sergei Kolosov

Sergei Kolosov has been living in social institutions since his early childhood. He has always loved drawing. Three years ago Sergei came to the Open Studio with a group of fellow-residents of PNI 7 and volunteers of Shirota & Dolgota project. There he found new opportunities for making art (canvases,  easels, paints) – and new impressions. Sergei works in different painting techniques, sculpturing and cut-outs, and does decoration.

The interview with artist Sergei KolosovThe State Russian Museum

The interview with Sergey Kolosov

The Excursion to the Hermitage (2019) by Vladimir KhrustalevThe State Russian Museum

The art studio of the PNI [Psychoneurological Asylum] No. 1

The art studio of the Psychoneurological Asylum No. 1 in Zelenogorsk provides workshops of drawing, painting and ceramics and have all the equipment necessary for creativity and accessibility for people with limited mobility. Classes are led by artists with  extensive teaching experience. Of the 1,000 residents of the asylum, about 50 people visit the workshops. Another 130 people paint and sculpt in their residential departments. Every 2-3 months, exhibitions of the studio’s works are held.    

The Group of People (2016) by Kamil MamleevThe State Russian Museum

Kamil Mamleev

Kamil Mamleev is an artist passionate about painting. The fund of PNI No. 1 contains hundreds of his wonderful works. Before entering the asylum, he was a tractor driver. He came to art on his own. Kamil Dzhigantovich is not worried that he has no professional art education. The most important thing for him is creative freedom, the ability to create his own special painting world. Copying reality does not appeal to him.

The Chancel, Yuriy Zelenko, 2014, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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Volodya Grigoriev, Yuriy Zelenko, 2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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The Marquise, Yuriy Zelenko, 2019, From the collection of: The State Russian Museum
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For Yuri Zelenko, art is the meaning of life and a kind of reward for the hardships that fell to his lot. This artist was able to reveal himself on his own in the very difficult conditions of asylums. His paintings are full of unique features that testify to the great skill and innovation of the author. Yuri neglects photographic precision for the sake of vivid metaphors and, with the help of a rich palette, creates the perfect balance in landscapes and portraits.      

The Group of the Artists and the Curators on the Exhibition "To Catch of a Big Fish"The State Russian Museum

The exhibition is held by the Department of Sociocultural Communications of the Russian Museum. 



The Department of Sociocultural Communications is a team of specialists in different fields of humanitarian knowledge and art, engaged in creating an open  and accessible cultural environment. 

Project team: 

Anna Tsvetkova, Deputy Director General for Development and Public Relations of the Russian Museum 
Olga Goncharova, project manager 
Ksenia Torström, project curator 
Anastasia Volodina, project coordinator   

Credits: Story

Natalia Petukhova, curator of the online exhibition
Sofia Krylova, Google Arts & Culture Coordinator


Anastasia Volodina, audio and video editor
Alfiya Shageeva, audio transcription
Anna Tankova, translator
Leonid Tsoy, translator, editor  

The organizers of the exhibition express their gratitude to the Russian Center for Museum Pedagogy and Children's Creativity and philanthropist Kirill Shishkov for supporting the exhibition.


 "Поймать большую рыбу. Часть 2"  

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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