By Drawing Eyes On Million-Dollar Russian Painting, A ‘Bored’ Guard Destroyed It

by Peter Barnes
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Million-Dollar Russian painting named The Three Figures by Anna Leporskaya were sent for restoration after a guard doodled on them with a ballpoint pen on his first day on the job.

On his first day on the job, a security guard at an art gallery in west-central Russia was fired for defacing a rare painting. Because he was “bored,” the guard allegedly took out a ballpoint pen and sketched eyes on two of the three faceless individuals in the piece of art. He lost his job because he wanted to do something other than safeguard the gallery’s artworks from similar vandalism. The picture was on exhibit at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center in Yekaterinburg, west-central Russia, when it was vandalized. Two people who went to the gallery noticed that the sculptures had been changed and told an employee about it.

According to a Metro story, the guard is suspected of defacing the picture on December 7, 2021, but he was fired after his name was discovered.

The artwork, titled “Three Figures,” was on display as part of an exhibition titled “The World as Non-Objectivity” and was insured for 74.9 million Russian Rubles, which is the equivalent of 7,40,000 pounds. “The Birth of a New Art” is a phrase used to describe the emergence of a new art. Anna Leporskaya, a student of the Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich, created it.

The Yeltsin Centre claimed in a statement that the employee of a private security organization “who painted the eyes on the statues” had been identified but did not reveal his name. “A ballpoint pen was used to cause the damage,” the art center noted.

By Drawing Eyes On Million-Dollar Russian Painting, A 'Bored' Guard Destroyed It
Russian Painting ‘Three Figures’ by Anna Leporskaya – before it was defaced by a bored security guard.

The ink had slightly pierced the paint layer because the titanium white used to paint the faces was not sealed with author’s varnish, as was commonly the case in abstract paintings at the time, according to a story in The Art Newspaper Russia, which broke the news. The vandal drew with a pen that didn’t put too much pressure on the paper, so the overall flow of the strokes wasn’t changed.

The exhibition’s curator, Anna Reshetkina, told the Shutterbulky, “His (the security guard’s) reasons are still unknown, but the administration feels it was some kind of lapse in sanity.”

Experts believe the painting can be restored to its original state without causing long-term harm, and they are already working on it. The renovation is expected to cost roughly 2,50,000 Russian Rubles.

The security guard has been charged with vandalism, which carries a fine of 40,000 Russian Rubles and a one-year prison sentence. The police announced last week that they had begun an investigation.

Read how that guard vandalized “Three Figures” Russian Painting

On December 7, 2021, during his first shift at the Yeltsin Centre in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, west-central Russia, Alexander Vasiliev doodled some eyeballs on the blank faces of the characters in Anna Leporskaya’s iconic artwork.

By Drawing Eyes On Million-Dollar Russian Painting, A 'Bored' Guard Destroyed It
Alexander Vasiliev | Credit: East2West

All of this occurred during an exhibition titled “The World as Non-Objectivity.” The Birth of a New Art,” and he was fired after his supervisors discovered the painting had been vandalized.

The security guard has now admitted how the doodling began, saying: “To be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy these photographs [at the exhibition],” he continued, “I’m a fool for what I’ve done.”

They left a sour taste in my mouth. I tried not to glance [at them] as I walked by. I observed how people reacted, and then I noticed a group of teens, aged 16 to 17, standing and debating why there are no eyes, lips, or beauty. “

He told the that the schoolgirls who were viewing the show had encouraged him.

“There were some girls in the group, and they said, ‘Draw on the eyes, you work here,'” says the narrator.

By Drawing Eyes On Million-Dollar Russian Painting, A 'Bored' Guard Destroyed It
Alexander Vasiliev | Credit: East2West

He also claimed that he believed the work was done by young people, and that he even questioned individuals who encouraged him to draw on it if the paintings were theirs, and that they responded yes.

He went on to say, “They presented me with a pen.” I drew the pupils of the eyes. I assumed it was just their kids’ artwork. ” I noticed folks smiling as they walked by. “

He stated that his wounds from the Chechen War, when his body was riddled with bullets and he was not supposed to survive, had begun to hurt him.

In 1995, he was one of only four senior lieutenants out of 36 soldiers in his detachment to survive a violent gun duel.

Yulia, a Covid nurse, described him as a “regular man” who may be “naive like a child.”

She blamed his actions on his military wounds.

The painting was “slightly penetrated” by the ink as a result of the doodle session because the canvas was not protected with a protective varnish.

The painting was removed from the show and returned to Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, where it underwent a £2,500 restoration.

Russian Painting ‘Three Figures’ by Anna Leporskaya – before it was defaced by a bored security guard.

Credit: NDTV | The Art Newspaper

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