**click portrait to enlarge**
(collage painting on cardboard, 35X15, 2009)
"Self-portrait as Hella, a character from Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita"
One of my absolutely favorite books is "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov. It's one of my oldest and dearest friends and the initial reason why I became interested in reading on the first place. It all started in the late summer of 1986 when my mother and I went to Odessa.
It was a tough summer for me. After spending over a month in a hospital after the Chernobyl disaster I accidently found out that my parents got divorced. My aunt was talking to a friend lamenting that a poor kid who barely survived some weird sickness would now also have to deal with her parents splitting up. The poor kid was me and I was totally unprepared for the news. A few weeks later, (since the cat was already out of the bag), my father decided to take me on a vacation with his new girlfriend and her daughter. When the vacation from hell ended I felt more down than I did in the hospital when everyone thought I was dying. My mom wanted to lift up my spirits and took me to Odessa, where a distant relative had a tiny apartment that she allowed us to use for a few weeks.
I arrived there sickly, unhappy and trying to cope with my world being upside down. We spend our days visiting museums and hanging out at the beach. However, there was not much to do at night, so my mom decided to start reading to me. The book she chose was "The Master and Margarita". I still remember the moment I heard the first sentence of the book, "At the hour of sunset, on a hot spring day, two citizens appeared in the Patriarch's Ponds Park."
That moment changed my life. I forgot about all my misfortunes and found an amazing way to escape reality. I discovered another world filled with fascinating characters and each one of them managed to influence my life in some way. …and so did Hella. Essentially a witch, she taught me that being uninhibited and unapologetic is something that insecure men are afraid of, which is a good weapon to have in a girl's arsenal.
"Her arm,coloured deathly green, started to stretch as if it were made of rubber. Finally her green cadaverous fingers caught the knob of the window-catch, turned it and the casement opened. Rimsky gave a weak cry, pressed himself to the wall and held his briefcase in front of himself like a shield. His last hour, he knew, had come..."
"All women are born evil. Some just realize their potential later in life than others."
"Every good painter paints what he is."