Today's Russian establishment has been openly broadcasting Nazism for many years, talking about its "special path" and trying to prove the superiority of Russians over the rest. The Russian authorities and the TV presenters, bloggers, celebrities and so on who serve them openly call for the killing of Ukrainian citizens who resist the occupation. Rocket attacks on Ukrainian territory — hospitals, power plants, residential buildings — are called in Russia a measure to enforce peace. It is enough to spend a few minutes reading or watching Russian media to understand that Nazism and fascism in Russia are allowed and encouraged at all levels.
The anonymous Russian artist Koin
, even before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, creates portraits of the Russian government and all those involved in the fact that this government crystallized rashism (Russian fascism) for more than 20 years, making it the main ideology of the country, and justifies wars against other states with it . In the portrait of each "hero" the artist depicts his actions, clearly emphasizing his importance in what Russia has become today.
— You remain anonymous online, will it be the same during our interview?
— Yes, it's better to call me Coin, so as not to be deanonymized. I still stay in Russia.
— How did the first portrait appear in the Russian Reality project (who was it, by the way)? And what were you doing before that?
— I had no plans to become an artist. I was into music, I was interested in computer games… At different times I had different small businesses. But whatever he did in terms of making money, he was always close to creativity. When Navalny was imprisoned, I drew the first portrait. I just took and drew Vladimir Putin. I posted it on TikTok and the next day I saw people sharing it. They began to write to me: "Draw this one, draw that one..." Although I did not consider myself an artist (and do not consider myself), I saw that over time I developed an author's style. "Working" with such characters is emotionally difficult - a lot of negative emotions - so after a while I left drawing portraits. Until February 24th.
— Generally speaking, who are in these portraits?
— Everyone whom I depicted with blood on their hands before the war, after February 24, got dirty in it. They all supported the war. I didn't make a mistake in any of them. They are bastards, there is no other word for them.
— Why, after February 24, 2022, did you decide to resume the creation of portraits?
— I was filled with anger at everything that was happening in Russia, at those people who made and supported these decisions. Of course, this is a one-man war. But it is foolish to think that only one person can do something. There is still a circle of people directly involved in this. If I feel that there is a lot of blood on the hands of this person, I will definitely depict it. It is important not to go mad when immersed in these characters, as my country is now mad because of them.
— How is the image of this or that "hero" created?
— The drawings show my subjective view of the characters depicted. The most complex portraits are such personalities as Politkovskaya, Shulman, Nemtsov... They are not villains, but they suffered from them, so they are important for the full picture. I also drew them because the subscribers asked. The most frequent request is to draw Zelensky.
The drawing process itself is a routine, it is much more difficult, before that, to understand the image of a person. Despite the fact that 50% of the requests are for the President of Ukraine, I don't know how to portray him. With all my respect to him, in my personal perception, before the presidency this is one person, during the presidency before the war — the second, during the war — the third. So I don't know how to convey his personality.
It’s still difficult to figure out how to draw Zelensky because by nature I’m not used to climbing into someone else’s garden. Every day they talk and discuss on TV how bad it is everywhere, except in Russia: how they torture in US prisons, how Europe freezes, how bad it is for people in Ukraine... But no one talks like it is in our country. How they torture in our prisons, how Russian citizens freeze, live without gas... I'm not used to it. Therefore, it is difficult for me to draw the beautiful Zelensky. I don't live in Ukraine. Deal with your "heroes". And villains are easy to draw — just sit down and draw these bastards.
— Can you tell us in more detail how the search for an image takes place using the example of one or two of your portraits?
— One of the most controversial characters is Goblin and Stas Hey How Easy. They call themselves oppositionists to the Russian government, they can sometimes scold it. But their position and words always coincide with the Kremlin's agenda! They love the Soviet Union very much. Yes, they speak modern language, and almost all of their viewers believe that they are oppositionists. It's just that no one thinks that not a single liberal can in any way support the war with Ukraine and the war in general. It's just not possible. And they support! Therefore, this is all props and conformism. The problem is that their audience is very large and mostly young people. This is terrible. Therefore, they are depicted in my way.
— How do you feel today's Russia?
— Today in Russia, doing something that goes against the official agenda and the "only correct" opinion can only be done completely anonymously. Almost all journalists, musicians stopped doing something or left. There are no other conditions. Our country creates a fierce game and people who agree with this have a complete carte blanche for disgusting. Not just an unfamiliar neighbor can report on you, your best friend can betray you. There are not only the National Guard and the police who follow orders, there are radicals and people fooled by propaganda — they voluntarily commit nasty things.
Not only are people intimidated, they are also not educated. Mobilization, for example, gathers people to be slaughtered in order to either kill or die themselves. And people just silently go: "How not to go? The paper has arrived!" And the fine for not taking this piece of paper is from 500 to 3,000 rubles, but no one even wants to look into it.
— What will happen next with the Russian Reality project?
— In the future, I want to start a more serious project — the first work in which will be Zhirinovsky painted in the form of a large icon. We now sometimes say that he was a prophet and suggest that he can be considered almost a saint… I want to show his real face. Such art can be sold and the money spent on charity. In this series, you can still include Patriarch Kirill, Okhlobystin, Putin...
I am often advised to do an exhibition in Europe. But according to my feelings, in winter the regime will change and I will make an exhibition in Russia this spring. My work is sick and it is relevant in sick times. Today's Russia is at the epicenter of this disease. In fact, I would like to do something else. But until this war is over, I will paint!