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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WEIRD MOSCOWPushkin Your Mother

Would you believe that Ira Valdron's timing with her exhibit of Pushkin related-appliques was purely accidental? The artist says she began work on the project without giving a thought to the great poet's bicentennial this year.

The exhibit, which is now running at the Gelman Gallery, is titled "Fuck You, D'Anthes," something probably many Russians would have liked to say to the Frenchman who killed Pushkin in a duel.

In her pieces, the artist spices up recognizable historical characters and serious poetry with her own humor, which, she believes, Russia's patron saint of poetry would have wholly approved of. Pushkin and his handsome blonde killer, Baron Georges D'Anthes, pose with animals and beautiful women, surrounded by quotes from Pushkin's famous poems.

Valdron, who lives in France and in Russia, said the purpose of the exhibit was not to make fun of the Pushkin, but rather was done out of love for his poetry. "My whole life I've loved Pushkin. ... This was my heart's calling," she said, adding that since she works with texts, Pushkin was the perfect choice of subject.

Equally famous as Pushkin the poet is Pushkin the lover, a character who is represented at the exhibit by "Pushkin's Don Juan List," in which women's names - and even one man's - are beautifully embroidered. Although the list is probably a bit shorter than the real one Pushkin was said to have kept, it is long enough to spread across the small gallery's floor.

Fortunately, no one dared step on the rug at the opening. "Pushkin is somewhat of a saint to us, so people are careful like in a church," Valdron said.

But if you are skeptical about Pushkin, Valdron just might make a believer out of you yet. If you come home after the exhibit and want to read "Eugene Onegin," then you'll know the artist's magic has worked for you.

- Anna Andreeva

"Fuck You, D'Anthes," runs until Feb. 20 at the Gelman Gallery, 7/7 Malaya Polyanka, Bldg. 5, 238-2783, noon to 7 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday. Metro: Polyanka.