Peeling potatoes, painting pictures: women artists in post-Soviet Russia, Estonia and Latvia

Renée Baigell and Matthew Baigell's book reviewed

This appealingly titled book follows on from the authorial duo’s Soviet dissident art: interviews after Perestroika and has a similar journalistic, made-as-for-TV-documentary style which gains in human interest more than is occasionally lost in artistic focus. The artists are eloquent, committed (often through great hardships) to putting their vision into practice and they give full and often fascinating accounts of the current scene’s pleasures and tribulations. The courage and determination are such that all aspiring artists should read this book. But credit is also due to the interviewers, who have honed their technique so well over the years that they have evidently gained the confidence of these women artists and show exemplary tact, never intruding on the conversational flow; journalists could also learn much here. The book succeeds in making one keen to see more work by contemporary Baltic and Russian artists (men and women), something not really within this book’s scantily illustrated remit.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 123 March 2002