The “Veronese” studio is the refuge of a talented prank artist from the 16th century. Time flows in it according to unknown laws, and the interior is full of insane combinations. The black brick creates depth that perfectly gets along with the filigree white mouldings, while remarkable golden beetles shamelessly crawl on the real imperial porcelain that adorns the kitchen panel wall. Here, a rough striped skin lies on a glossy gray floor, breaking all the style and taste canons…
My name is Nastya Timofeeva, I am an artist from St. Petersburg as well as the author of the “Veronese” studio. At first, the proposal to create an interior design shocked me. I couldn’t even imagine how to switch inspiration and transfer my skills and vision to a three-dimensional space. But, as is often the case, at that time I was simply missing a starting point. The discussion of the illusions museum (the work that I had to deal with in the coming months) became this missing point. Illusions, spaces, volumes, interiors, play, paintings… Painting and illusions! Paolo Veronese, the name of the Venice artist who I studied at the university, clearly emerged in my memory. His works were given to us as an example of the surprising symbiosis of classical painting with illusion. The next step was a matter of technique. Not a trace of the fear of the unknown remained after a couple of days. And the story that the studio tells turned into a real adventure novel!
There’s a flash, there’s a roar, a howl, there’s golden flakes, sparkles, and the sound of breaking plates. Caliari again failed to hit a jump and at full speed landed in a cupboard with porcelain sitting exactly in the center of a magnificently decorated dining room. Sitting on a pile of broken plates, he takes a breath and checks whether or not he was safe, he tried to determine what century and what part of the world he found himself in. Seeing the decor of the ceilings, the paintings on the walls and the abundance of ocher, he realized that he was in Russia, in the 18th century …
What kind of jumping? Who is Caliari and why is he in the Russian 18th century?
Let’s take it in order. Our hero’s name is Paolo Caliari, or Paolo Veronese as he was called by his friends.
Paolo is a talented prank artist from Verona from the 16th century. The picturesque illusions with which he generously seasoned his works became his business card. Either he painted a broom in the corner of one pompous canvas, that people who were not aware would always try to remove, or a pair of mice appeared among the magnificent figures. The ladies would rush to scream when having noticed them.
While working on one of these pranks, namely the image of a barn door that was part of a huge garden fresco, Veronese, growing tired of painting the structure of a tree, fell asleep. Waking up from the blow, Veronese was surprised to find that he wasn’t any more in the well-known garden, but in a dense forest, and he was no longer sitting on his favorite working stool but was rolling head over heels from a tall mountain. The reflexes reacted faster than consciousness: without even thinking that all of this could be a dream, Paolo strongly grasped at a giant fern leaf and thus stopped his fall. Catching his breath, he began to clamber back, and soon he saw a doorway among the bushes, that had the same proportions as the barn door on his canvas. Having reached the goal, the artist pushed the recently drawn door and saw a familiar garden behind it. Standing on the threshold (literally!) of two worlds, he couldn’t believe his luck!
The next morning, torn by curiosity, he rushed into the unknown world and miraculously survived. Although for the first time the forest seemed quiet and friendly, in the second time it revealed monsters and dragons that were clearly not happy about the stranger. It was then that Veronese returned from his travels, but not alone. A huge golden praying mantis clung to his foot during the escape. Veronese tried to get rid of the uninvited guest, as he was fastidious and didn’t like insects, but was surprised to find behind the newly opened door not the forest, but a strange room with emerald-green walls and skillfully executed luminous images of animals. Thus, the desire to send the insect home helped the artist know that not only an ancient forest can hide behind a painted barn door.
Veronese spent the following year exploring the phenomenal possibilities of the portal, the discovery of which was a truly inexhaustible source of inspiration for the artist!
… “Well, it’s Russia for sure! And I even guessed the century,” Veronese thought to himself noticing the two security guards in black bicornes and blue uniforms in the wide-open doors. In order not to talk with them about his presence in the imperial palace, the artist deftly turned around, climbed a mountain of debris that had once been a closet, and suddenly, disappeared right in the wall…
By that moment, the artist perfectly mastered the portal and could open secret passages through space and time in any convenient place, even though the dexterity of his jumps were not the best. The secret was not at all in the perfectly drawn barn door, but in the artist himself!
… Having flown more than one hundred years and a little less than a thousand kilometers, Veronese found himself in his secret refuge, a treasure-house workshop located in modern Moscow, in the area of Chistye Prudy …
It is no coincidence that Veronese the traveler chose Moscow of the 21st century for his refuge. He considered this era the prosperity of recklessness, and the city the center of a magnificent chaos. Neither in the future nor in the past could he find such a quality of eclecticism that impregnated absolutely everything, from people’s outfits to the buildings’ facades. In this place he felt like being a part of his own pictorial pranks, and at the same time was not afraid to draw too much attention.
…Glancing at his reflection in the placer of mirrors, the artist began to brush off small pieces of imperial porcelain shining on the black velvet of his road suit. But then he immediately froze, realizing that he had left a very, very important package with a gift in a pile of broken plates …
His 100th jubilee leap, Veronese decided to pay a visit to a distant future (as far as fantasy and caution could make it at that time). Whistle, clapping, flashes, a couple of seconds in this already familiar inter-spatially-temporary madness, and the artist landed at the randomly chosen destination. He crowd, tinkling of glass, and roar of voices instantly captured him. It was 1972, at the bar “Toby Jug” in Tolworth, England.
Veronese, being afraid of losing sight of something important and beautiful, eagerly watched what was happening and didn’t notice that behind his back the bright light of powerful spotlights outlined the space of a modest scene. The sudden cascade of echoing, galloping sounds seemed to call out to the artist, and his eyes were looking to the stage, where a tall, thin man languidly and, somewhat lazily, fingered the guitar strings. His hairstyle seemed incredible even for that time, and the orange-blue lightning painted on his face clearly distinguished him from the crowd of compatriots …
“It’s a, it’s a, it’s a drive-in Saturday,” the musician sang.
Strolling through the completely empty streets of a small town at night, Veronese thought that a random leap led him to the same time traveler as himself.
A few days after his amazing journey into the future, the artist made a plan to thank the extravagant musician, and at the same time check his guesses about the existence of other time travelers.
Closing his eyes tight, Paolo most clearly pictured the ill-starred imperial hall at the time of his disappearance. Flashes, claps, bright light and… no clank of breaking dishes, no crash of falling. Did he do something wrong?! “Fre-e-e-e-e-ze!” The cry of men in blue uniforms, coming from behind, dispelled any doubts. He just missed the mark of the landing place! The guards, who had not yet recovered from the sudden appearance of a scoundrel, first froze in their places, but after a moment rushed in his direction. Veronese had enough time amidst the confusion of the guards to reach the pile of fragments, grab the bundle and rush back. In an attempt to stop the intruder, the lanky men, not daring to start firing in the luxurious interior, began throwing in his direction pieces of cups, teapots and everything that they could get their hands on. On the run, Veronese fantasized finding himself in his studio at Chistye Prudy. In parallel, while dodging dishes banging on the lacquered floor, he said to himself that a little rest and a cup of tea would do good. Suddenly, the universe heard his request and threw our hero home, straight to the dinner table! Still breathing heavily after the victorious sprint, the artist glanced toward the kitchen and laughed, the once-flat tiled wall was now full of imperial dishes stuck in it. What a wonderful reminder of the adventure!
Leaning on the wall of the old stove, Veronese drank strong tea and admired the gift saved from the captivity of its own absent-mindedness. David’s plaster head looked menacingly and slightly surprised at the artist’s window sill. Yes, indeed, The One Done by Michelangelo Buonarroti. It was this head that was different from the others, it was separated by a bright golden lightning passing through the entire face.
The workshop of the young sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti was one of the favorite places of Veronese. Coming into it under the cover of night, he was inspired by the infinite talent of the master. But once, in spite of his caution, the artist left a bright trace of his presence. On the way back, he decided to grab one of the best plaster cast of the master: the head from the sculpture of King David, the future super hit by Michelangelo.
Putting the bright turquoise glass aside, Veronese neatly turned the sculpture on its side and scribbled the message from below. The gift would be delivered very soon to its happy owner. The wait was painfully intriguing!
Having placed the gift in the nearest bookstore, Veronese returned to the workshop to carefully prepare for the most important journey. He dressed up in a bright yellow shirt with a wide double collar, black and white checkered pants, and flashy red lacquer shoes. Then, he picked up a bag with a gift under his left hand, snapped the fingers of the right hand towards his reflection, winked at him and with a malicious smile and disappeared in the portal leading in 1973.
Still in the same posture of the playful macho, Veronese appeared in the lonely space of a recording studio. He landed on a coffee table located between two sofas. Laughing at his funny appearance, the artist immediately jumped off the table, put the box with the gift on it, set straight a postcard with a signature and disappeared again with a satisfaction.
A minute later, the same musician who had amazed our hero during his jubilee time travel entered the room, with fiery red hair, shaved off eyebrows, wearing a jacket fully embroidered with sparkles. The look of a real newcomer from the future. He immediately noticed an unfamiliar object standing on the table. “To David B, from PV,” was written in the postcard attached to a splendid bow on the package. He packed off right away! And now two of the Davids were looking at each other, one frowning menacingly and shining with golden lightning across his face, the second on the other hand, smiling at an unexpectedly subtle gift. Walking around the room in search of a temporary shelter for the gift, David turned the sculpture in his hands and noticed an inscription on it. Frozen in the middle of the room, he read, “If time is open for you, leaving this world, bring David home, Moscow, Myasnitskaya street, 30, building 3, Veronese Studio. April 27, 2019, 07:07 PM.
When Veronese got back to his workshop, he checked the time on his golden Casio. The date and time were correct: April 27, 2019, 07:10PM. The answer to the question that tormented the artist was in the distance only taking one glance from him. Veronese mustered up his courage, closed his eyes tight, and took a deep breath. He sharply turned on one leg towards the window as if he was starting some hussy dance and opened his eyes. The loud scream “I kne-e-e-e-e-ew it!” filled the room. The head with a golden lightning on the face was in its former place as if nothing had ever happened! In the blink of an eye, breaking the distance from the hallway to the window, he grabbed the sculpture. The gift had obviously aged: cracks had appeared on the surface, and the gold lightning that had shone with its novelty a few hours ago, had faded and peeled off. Having turned the plaster head, the artist saw a new message, “Hello from Mars!” From David B., January 10, 2016″.
He’s not alone! Shocked by his discovery, the very next day Veronese would go on a new journey. From now on, he was driven not only by the thirst for inspiration, but also by the search for time travelers like him!
When staying in the”Veronese” studio, don’t be surprised if you suddenly find your things in different places from where you left them, or if some things suddenly seem sharply aged. Our friend Veronese loves to play pranks and sometimes might borrow an ipad to watch the last series of “The Game of Thrones”, or even your fashionable suit…
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