On November 22, 2021, the Seoul House of Literature held an inauguration ceremony for a monument to the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. It is highly symbolic that the inauguration took place on the great Russian writer’s funeral 111th anniversary as the first snow fell in the Republic of Korea this year.
The ceremony was attended by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s descendant, Presidential Advisor for Culture Vladimir Tolstoy and his wife, Yasnaya Polyana Estate Museum Director Ekaterina Tolstaya, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Korea Andrey Kulik, Rector of the Repin Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg Semyon Mikhailovsky, Russian Seasons Project Director Alexei Lebedev, Russian conductor, artistic director and Mariinsky Theatre Director Valery Gergiev and Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, Oh Yong-Woo. The guests of honor at the ceremony included CJ Kyung-Shik Sohn, Chairman of CJ Company, Song Hyeon-ok, wife of the Mayor of Seoul, and Kang Young Hoon and Lee Kyu Hyung, former Ambassadors of the Republic of Korea to Russia.
“It is gratifying that today’s ceremony takes place in the Cultural Exchange Year between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea. Despite the difficulties associated with the pandemic of new coronavirus infection, the humanitarian relations between our two countries continue to develop steadily, as evidenced by the large-scale Russian Seasons cultural festival held in the Republic of Korea,” said Andrey Kulik.
The image of Leo Tolstoy for Korea has become a collection and embodiment of the Russian man – high-spirited, self-sacrificing. The author’s works are imbued with the spirituality and identity of the Russian man.
“I want to congratulate everyone on this wonderful event. I don’t know if it was intended that way, but today is exactly 111 years since the funeral of Leo Tolstoy. He was buried on November 22, 1910. If not intended, they guessed incredibly well with this event. In Russian, the word monument has the obvious root ‘memory,’ which is what people leave behind. People go away, but they leave a memory of themselves. And that’s very important to those who are left behind. Leo Tolstoy left behind a truly enormous memory. He left a great legacy, above all his novels, his works, his thoughts, his philosophical thoughts that remain relevant and necessary for people today. It’s why he continues to be read, published, translated into different languages of the world. I like this monument and how my great-great-grandfather looks here. How he is portrayed by a young sculptor from St. Petersburg, it is a very expressive work, very talented,” said Vladimir Tolstoy.
During his speech, Vladimir Tolstoy expressed his gratitude to the host country, the Ministries of Culture of both countries, the Russian Embassy in South Korea, Rector of the Academy of Arts Semyon Ilyich Mikhailovsky, and the project, without which this event would not have happened – the Russian Seasons.
“I sincerely congratulate all of you with one of the events within the project Russian Seasons held in honor of cultural exchange year 2020 -2021, namely the installation in Seoul of L. N. Tolstoy’s bust, the great master of world literature,” – emphasized Oh Yong-Woo, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism in the Republic of Korea.
The author Ekaterina Pilnikova is a young sculptor of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. A graduate of the sculpture department. The young master studied at Professor A. S. Charkin’s workshop, in the creative workshop of G. D. Yastrebenetsky, participated in the exhibition preparation in the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019.
“It was important for us to find proportions, to make it convincing and simple. This monument should be simple in execution, but it should have emotions and feelings. It’s wonderful that she managed to achieve such emotionality, and it’s a strong image,” said Semyon Mikhailovsky.
The project authors were Alexei Lebedev, director of the international cultural project Russian Seasons, and Semyon Mikhailovsky, rector of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts named after Ilya Repin.
As a reminder, on November 24, 2021, at the Seoul House of Literature, an exhibition of the Ilya Repin Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg will open. The exposition’s leitmotif will be the young artists’ interpretation of the Russian classics and their ideas that are in tune with our time, as well as the Mariinsky Theater concerts at the Lotte Concert Hall.
Information for reference:
“Russian Seasons” is a large-scale project to introduce Russian culture to European audiences. In 2017, in Japan, there were 238 events in 100 cities with the participation of 29 cultural institutions. In 2018 in Italy – 310 events, which covered 74 cities and 87 participating institutions. In 2019, the global cultural project “Russian Seasons” took place in Germany. 473 events in 90 cities with the participation of 90 Russian groups triumphantly presented Russian culture to millions of German audiences. In total, during its existence, the project “Russian Seasons” has captivated more than 13 million viewers.
For foreign and Russian fans of Russian culture, the Stay Home with Russian Seasons online service was launched to provide access to Russian cultural content and continue the project despite restrictive measures. The project is a free media library for videos by Russian Seasons participants. A specially created section on the site presents events from Russia’s leading cultural institutions and creative groups, as well as a series of video tours Discovering Russia with Russian Seasons. All broadcasts are accompanied by an English translation.