While Van Gogh was painting Paris, Pavel Mikhailovich Kosharov was transcribing the the dark heart of Siberia.
For almost a hundred years they were unknown to people. In Tomsk, Siberia, Galina Kolosova, the lady in charge of the Department of Rare Books in the city’s Research library discovered, among some 700 unrelated papers, some 100 wonderful lithographs of old Tomsk and the wild country surrounding it. They were the work of one Pavel Mikhailovich Kosharov. In the 1990s, she initiated his first exhibition, and then other shows.
While Van Gogh was painting Paris, Kosharov was painting Tomsk, and the wilds of Siberia.
Before Galina Kolosova unleashed Kosharov on Tomsk, his legend was known to some of its citizens. The oldest ones, those that cared about the magical lore of their home, the oldest city in Siberia. Kosharov painted views of the provincial city and the wilderness surrounding it throughout the middle and second half of the 19th century and, in his drawings, lithographs and paintings much that is lost remains. For those in Tomsk that care, Kosharov’s imagery holds the essense of of their heritage. The romance.
It’s his landscapes that sing to us today. We can feel something of Kosharov’s wonderment in them, his deep awe at what he was seeing in the those raw wilderness landscapes. Something of, to quote Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner, “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.”
Kosharov shows us what he’s seen and can’t beleive.
Tomsk was lucky to have Kosharov as its own Van Gogh. He came to them a graduate of the drawing classes at the Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg was the first professional artist ever to live and work in Tomsk, which he did between 1854 & 1902. He worked out of the male gymnasium there, teaching painting and graphic art. He also taught iconography in the Tomsk Theological Seminary and drawing classes at the non-classical secondary school. He was also the official painter for expedition of the famous traveler P. P. Semenov to the Tien Shan.
Pavel Kosharov published his first album of views of Tomsk in 1886.
Then nothing for over 140 years.
In early 2020, Galina Kolosova’s rediscovery led to an exhibition, “The creative heritage of the artist Pavel Kosharov “ . It was held in a small Exhibition Hall on the 2nd floor of the Tomsk State University Research Library. In the Old Building.