The Krasnoufimsk Museum of Local Lore is collecting materials related to the life of Yevsey Yakimov, a self-taught artist born without hands and feet. Some of the unique works by this rough diamond from the Ural hinterland have been transferred to the Yekaterinburg Museum of Naïve Art.
If the Ural self-taught artist Evsei Yakimov had lived in the Internet age, he would have gained enormous fame, just like Nick Vujicic. After all, people who managed to break through limitations of their physical disabilities and manifest their talents, deserve great respect all over the world. The talent of the nugget from the remote village of Verkhnie Sarsy, who had no hands and feet but painted hundreds of unique canvases brimming with life, was admired by outstanding writers Pavel Bazhov and Boris Ryabinin from the Ural region of Russia. However, only echoes of the life story of this unique self-taught artist, and several paintings, made their way into the museum halls.
So he was born without arms and legs, into a large poor peasant family back in 1919, in bygone pre-war Soviet times. He had only a stump of the left leg, up to the knee, with fragments of three fingers. Nevertheless, Evsei never gave up and served himself almost from childhood. He learned to read and draw. From the very childhood, he had two crutches on a leather strap. He put them on his neck and leaned against his armpits. That’s how he moved around. The main thing for him was independence ...
Lyubov Alekseychik, an employee of the Krasnoufimsk Museum of Local History, told us all the details of the life of this amazing countryman. For over 20 years she has been studying the biography of Evsei Yakimov and collecting materials related to his life. These are letters, photographs, paintings and even furniture, which was adapted to the unique artist. At her request, the filmstrip "Lessons of Courage" has been created to show to the museum visitors.
“Yevsei had a friend, Andrei, who was blind from birth. Together they managed to go to the forest for picking mushrooms and berries. They to the most picturesque places of the district for plain air sessions. Andrei took the stroller with Evsei, and Evsei guided him where to go. Most of the landscapes were born thanks to this friendship”, - the artist’s nephew, Eugene Yakimov, said. - But basically he painted at home. The largest easel was two by two meters in size. Working on the floor, Uncle rolled over the canvas, applying paint while holding the brush in his teeth”.
“Daring and original” – this is how art historians describe the canvasses by Evsei Yakimov. Huge fir trees, cliffs over the river, and all this enveloped into mysterious, fabulous atmosphere of unknown paths of the mighty Ural Mountains. It is not by mere chance that the landscapes by Evsei Yakimov were admired by the famous Ural writer Pavel Bazhov and the Ural geologist-localist Modest Clare.
Paintings by Yevsey Yakimov were immediately appreciated. People literally stood in line for his art works, both ordinary people, and those in power among them. The latter especially liked to order portraits of the Soviet leaders.
In 1952, the artist engineered a special motocross, which was made for him at the Serpukhov Plant, and he dared to drive it by steering with three fingers of the appendage of his only leg.
And then he married a woman who had lost sight in the war. Evsei met his future wife in Moscow and they lived happily ever after. Till his last days the incredible artist did not lose optimism, and faith in people and himself. He tirelessly kept painting stunning art masterpieces. Evsei Yakimov died in 1976.
He was a strong and happy man. In all the photographs that have come down to us you can see Evsei smiling. The power of his spirit would make it for a thousand people, and maybe more ...
His paintings can be seen today at the Krasnoufimsk Museum of Local Lore, the Museum of Naive Art, and at his relatives and neighbors in Balakhna.
Author: Vera Ivanova