Only a few big mosaic panel-paintings, which were a popular type of urban décor and an instrument of monumental propaganda in the Soviet times, have remained in Voronezh. RIA “Voronezh” correspondents have put together a list of places where one can still see the mosaics in all of their beauty.
Proletary Film Theatre
Year of creation: 1968
Author: Yury Lvov
Address: 56, Revolution Avenue
The building of Proletary Film Theatre was built in 1917 and for almost half of century had looked like a typical neoclassicism-style structure – with semi-columns, bas-reliefs, arches and sculptural images on the façade. But in the late 60s, a decision was made to re-design it: to add a semicircular building on granite pillars with a glass entrance roof overhang to the main one and to change the interior design of the film theatre giving it a more contemporary look. This is when the “Prometheus Bringing Fire to the People” mosaic was created.
The building by Devitsky Drive
Year of creation: 1971
Author: Yury Kaziner
Address: 72, Koltsovskaya Street
This is the only mosaic located on the side of a residential building instead of an administrative one. And, apparently, it plot is related to the location – a family consisting of a mother, a father and a daughter under the symbolic sun.
Raduga Children’s Center
Year of creation: 1972
Address: 6, Polina Osipenko Street
Originally, the building was the cafeteria of the Aircraft Production Plant. Later it was reconstructed and made into the House of Pioneers of Levoberezhny District. It is during the reconstruction that the space-theme mosaic was created.
The former Cosmonautics Club
Year of creation: 1980
Author: Eduard Plotnikov
Address: 25, Oleko Dundich Street
The Cosmonautics Club was built in Voronezh in 1963 and was named after cosmonaut Vladimir Bykovsky. He had raised many astronomers among which was Alexey Berezhnoy who managed to prove that there was water on the Moon’s poles not visible to us. Nowadays, the former Cosmonautics Club is turned into the House of Children’s Art of Soviet District.
Year of creation: 1983
Authors: Yury and Larisa Utenkov
Address: 56, Kholzunova Street
This mosaic was ordered by Voronezh plant “Avtoremprom”. The typical two-storey building required art decoration, and on the two symmetrically placed shorter sides of the building from the direction of the main entrance there was empty space that allowed placing a painting or a mosaic. The authors decided to make the main panel-painting in the form of spread wings, and at the back there was space left for small mosaics with children’s symbols.
The passage by Petrovsky Public Garden
Year of creation: 1986
Author: Eduard Plotnikov
Address: 18, Revolution Avenue
The mosaic was ordered by the South-Eastern Railways for the celebration of May 1: it pictures buildings under construction, fireworks and a timely (at the moment) emblem of Voronezh – at that time, such an image was the symbol of the new city. For a time, the mosaic was hidden behind a kiosk, painted over, partly knocked down, but, nevertheless, it still exists and looks the same as thirty years ago.
The TV broadcast center building
Year of creation: 1988
Authors: Vladimir Klepnin, Vasily Karev
Address: 97, Moskovsky Anevue
This is the biggest mosaic in Voronezh. This building used to belong to research and production facility “Energia”, on the side of which the architects left a place for a panel-painting. After some time after the construction, the mosaic was decided to be made after all – on the topic of energy and exploration of the universe. It was decided that the painting should picture cosmonauts behind the control panel of a space rocket with various small elements added around the composition to create the feeling of dynamic and somewhat draw the viewer into the depicted space. The mosaic on the building was not with laid out with tile with pieces of the picture but using a direct kit.– A powerful burst of usage of mosaics in the world and Russian culture happened during the Art Nouveau period. The technique became relevant again during the Soviet times. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, this type of art had blossomed and gained an ideological tendency related to the topics of heroism of labour, pioneering and space exploration. A proper concept was chosen for each object. For example, as using the “sacred” themes in an underground passage was not quite appropriate, in places like that the authors used abstract topics in order for the panel-painting to serve entirely decorative purposes without a certain meaning.
a professor, a Candidate in Architectural Sciences
How mosaics are made
Mosaics are most often made using smalt – it is cobalt glass prepared in accordance with special technology with addition of metal oxide colorants. The result is a coloured compound which, after cooling down, takes the form of sticks. It is either sawed with abradants or cracked. In the first case, it looks dim on the place of the cut, in the second case it is lustrous. The advantage of using smalt is that in the course of time it almost doesn’t lose its colour, because the material is affected by neither humidity nor temperature drops.
The mosaic technique is very labour-consuming. A small picture can be made on the spot, but creating a huge panel-painting on the sort side of a building is extremely hard. Usually, such mosaics are made on the floor in workshops and in parts. At first they draw the picture on cardboard – sort of an actual-size sketch, then turn it over and redraw on the other side. The final picture is broken down into modules. Then they make an encasement for the module plates – a dismountable wooden form. After the artist puts the picture together in the encasement, it is filled with cement from the other side and reinforced with metal bars for durability. The plate is fitted with anchor parts to keep it attached to the wall. The finished plates are numbered and used to put together the final panel-painting.