When I was about 16, my parents replaced wallpaper in my room. They didn’t buy enough rolls and ran out of them before they could cover the part between the door and the corner at the head of my bed. My mother’s solution was to cover that part of the wall with some blank paper and suggesting that I paint one of my fantasies on it. It was about 4.5 feet wide and running from the floor to the ceiling.
Just then a friend showed up with a smuggled copy of Elton John’s 1975 Captain Fantastic vinyl LP he had bought on the black market. I was so impressed with the elaborate album cover and the accompanying illustrated lyrics booklet that I decided to copy some of its surreal characters onto my wall. I got to work right away, starting with the monster dog and the weeping mouse, as Elton John was playing in the background. The rest of the composition came later. I kept working on it in between my other teenage pursuits over the next several years, adding more things and ideas, until I finally realized that in order to create complex fantasy drawings one first needed to learn how to draw real objects. By then I was already in college, majoring in English.
That’s when I found an art studio nearby, led by a young artist and poet, Yan Martsinkievich. We quickly became friends and remained close until my emigration to the United States. Sadly, he died in July of 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. He had mailed me some of his later works in a Sotheby’s brochure; I’ll try to add them here as well.
I started dabbling in real art. It turned out to be more challenging and infinitely more interesting than my teenage fantasy drawings. Or maybe I simply grew up. In any event, I lost interest in my wall painting and never finished it, with the upper half of the wall remaining blank. This is a cropped version.
Before our old house was condemned and demolished in 1986, I carefully tore the paper with the drawing off the wall, rolled it up, put it in the closet, and forgot all about it. When I returned to Ukraine in 2016 I found this drawing in the attic at my parents’ dacha, along with some of my other artwork. I took a picture of it, which I then cropped and cleaned up in Photoshop.