July 01, 2004

The Wild Edge

Vadim Gorbatov, one of Russia’s best nature illustrators, has been drawing since he was four years old. “It was wartime,” he said, “and, like all children of that time, I drew pictures of war. At the same time, I started to draw animals. One time in kindergarten, prior to the New Year’s holiday, while children were sleeping, a room for games was decorated with stuffed birds and mammals, dry tree branches, leaves, and cotton. When I entered the room, I was stunned. This picture impressed me so profoundly that I remember it today, sixty years later.”

Born in 1940 in Moscow and evacuated to the Altai with his family during WWII, Gorbatov has traveled for six decades throughout the former Soviet Union, observing and drawing nature and its inhabitants.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gorbatov has begun to get more exposure in the West. Part of this is due to his participation in the Artists for Nature Foundation, an organization based in the Netherlands that brings together well-known artists in every medium from what its founder, Ysbrand Brouwers, calls “endangered locations,” so that their artwork can focus attention on the need for conservation. Gorbatov has been working with Artists for Nature since its founding in 1999, and has expanded his palette to include wildlife from Alaska, the Pyrenees, India, and more. But his favorites – birds of prey, large predators, and the fauna of northern Russia, the taiga and the tundra – remain his most evocative.

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