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Образцы работ (Masterpieces)


Moscow today&tomorrow magazine,
march  / 2 0 0 2

The  Austrian Chancellor Paints
a Russian Icon

By Konstantin Petrov,
Photos by the author and ITAR-TASS

At the end of January, the Federal Chancellor of Austria Wolfgang Shuessel, made an official visit to Russia. His meeting with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in the Kremlin was the central event of the chancellor’s stay in Moscow and was notably affable. 

The meeting began in the Kremlin’s official reception room, where the two leaders talked to each other without interpreters. 

As the Russian president noted, economic cooperation makes up the main agenda in relations between Moscow and Vienna, with trade turnover between the countries reaching $1.9 billions in 2001. 

The delegation accompanying Wolfyang Schuessel included a hundred Austrian businessmen, many of them contemplating investments in Russia


Among the international problems discussed, the main one was that of Russia's integration within the European Union. Chancellor Schuessel corroborated his reputation of a politician, strongly advocating an immediate rapprochement between Russia and the Old World. He expressed support for Russia's membership of the WTO. "Without Russia it is hardly possible to talk about the building, of a larger Europe," the. chancellor pointed out.


During the visit, talks between Wolfgang Schuessel and the. Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, were. also held.

Both Russia and Austria believe it is possible to double bilateral trade turnover within a period of 5 to 7 years. To realize this objective, both sides discussed mechanism to safeguard investments and promote trade, among them the extension of cooperation between Russian banks and Austria's control bank, as well as an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation. Cooperation in such domains as culture and tourism was also discussed.


As Prime Minister Kasyanov noted, "There: are no problems between Russia and Austria that could make us worry about the future of our relations. Both parties strive. to develop cooperation."


The organizers of the exhibition "Light Unfading" meet the Federal Chancellor of
Austria Wolfgang Schuessel in the rooms of the Union of Russian Artists


Beside the official political talks, the programme of the Austrian chancellor's stay included his visit to the exhibition, "Light Unfading", showing, the works of present-day Orthodox artists.

The exhibition, organized by the Creative Union of Artists, showed a wide variety. of arts and crafts: icon painting,  gold embroidery, miniatures, church vessels and photography

Those who contributed to the exhibition work for various churches and monasteries in Moscow and Moscow province, among them the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Church of the Ascension of Our Lord, the Sretensky Monastery, the Saint Daniil Monastery, the SS Martha and Mary Cloister. The works of some have won medals and awards from the Moscow Patriarchate and the calendar for the year 2002 (with views of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour), produced by the photographer Crigory Kuzmin, has been given the blessing of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexiy II.

Mr. Schuessel showed a great deal of interest in the works exhibited and expressed a great admiration for their beauty and variety. 


In Austria and abroad, Wolfgang Schuessel is well known for his erudition and wide-ranging interests. A leading figure on Europe's political scene, he does not confine himself to the usual pursuits of a politician. He is known as a talented artist, as well as a musician. He has been keen on drawing since youth and he is also a capable accordion player. Several years ago, while serving as his country's foreign minister, Mr. Schuessel drew beautiful illustrations for the textbook,  Geography for Children. 


In one of Austria's most picturesque corners, in the region of Styria, is an ancient castle, Retzhof. It houses a cultural and educational centre, famous throughout the country, where they hold seminars, lectures, and master classes in literature, fine arts, music and history. Such events, which have a high reputation in Austria, attract participants from the country's cultural elite, people who are truly keen on the arts.


Several years ago a Moscow artist, Yelena Kuskova, was invited to Retzhof to hold a master class in the history of Russian icon painting. Whilst there, she became acquainted with Wolfgang Schuessel. A friendship was forged through their joint interests and creative work. Mr. Schuessel had dreamed of continuing his studies in icon painting in Russia one day. Hence, during his official visit to Russia, he wished to paint an icon. 


Guided by Moscow icon painter Yelena Kuskova,  the Federal Chancellor
of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel is painting an icon


The image he chose to copy was "Elijah's Ascent into Heaven in a Whirlwind". 

Yelena Kuskova has worked in icon painting for 21 years and is the artist of about three hundred icons. Various churches now own her works. One of her icons has been acquired by Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery and is now part of its permanent collection.  

In one of the rooms of the Creative Union of Russian Artists, amidst beautiful icons, a work place complete with easels, paints, etc. was set up for the Austrian Chancellor.

 Under Yelena Kuskova's guidance, Mr.  Shuessel worked nonstop for two days to make his version of "Elijah's Ascent into Heaven in a Whirlwind", allowing himself only very short breaks for cups of coffee. This capacity for work amazed the Russian painters while his artistic accomplishment was no less admired.


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