Fazil Iskander
Laureate of State Prizes

The pictures gleam, bright and tremulous…
We see the victor’s puzzled grin
Or the rueful smile of the wise man
Lasting for all eternity.

I’m not a critic or art historian, and I judge Evgeny Zevin’s paintings on the one hand as a simple viewer and on the other as a writer who’s pleased to recognize in them laws common to all art forms, including those that are perhaps closer to me.

Zevin’s paintings bring me joy above all through their holiday spirit, their unusually bright colors and their heartfelt generosity, humor and irony. He has the rare gift of laughing at reality without bitterness and anger. And this, in my opinion, is a sign of the artist’s wisdom: he knows that after mocking one bit of stupidity another is sure to appear in its place. So he doesn’t fly into a rage at the sight of folly and vainly attempt to destroy it forever. With a smile, Zevin does the only thing one can with stupidity: he banishes it.

There’s a kind of mystical precision; when an artist achieves it, his paintings, regardless of their subjects, comfort and reconcile us with life. I think the main aim of art is to comfort people, and Zevin nearly always achieves this aim. His innovations are paid for on the spot in the oldest and soundest coin of the realm: talent. And here we can’t help but recall Boris Pasternak’s utterance: “Talent is the only news that’s always new”.