Art Collector Anatol Pedan

Restoring names 0

Interview by Sergei Timofeev

I haven’t met so many people in my life who would match exactly to what they are doing. Say, absolute physician, absolute politician or absolute collector, especially collector of art. Usually the latter makes elderly, set people with the capital made. For them, paintings and sculptures in their house are the proof of the status they have achieved, and, in some sense, investment in their future. It’s a different story with Anatol Pedan. He has been fascinated by collecting since his early youth, and this occupation in fact has affected him as a personality, shaped his life journey. Besides, he is not a mere collector, but an explorer, who lifts the veil of the oblivion on works, whose byline got lost in the turmoil of the 20th Century experience. And it was exactly the name of his collection exhibited at the Latvian National Museum of Arts in this year’s August and September: Restored Names. Along with the exhibition, large and tastefully designed catalogue was released, many articles of which were written by Anatol Pedan himself.

“Both exhibition and this entire project in fact reflected the multicultural environment of our city. And although there is the evident multiculturalism crisis in Europe, I’d like to show that Riga has always been a melting pot of cultures. Also, the catalogue itself has been released in three languages. There are not only Russian works of art on show, but also Latvian, Baltic German, Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian artists who lived and worked in Riga, were connected to this city, but at the same time were affected by Russian school or did their studies in Russia,” tells Anatol Pedan. has decided to present to its audience one of the most dedicated art collectors from Latvia, so we have arranged the meeting at his small gallery filled with paintings, named Haberland, in the Old Town, near Riga Castle. The name of the gallery is yet another restored name. Christoph Haberland was the chief architect of Riga in the end of 18th Century. History and contemporaneity seem to form the unbreakable union in this collector’s life. But what is his own personal story?

- It began quite a long time ago, when I have only graduated from school. In fact, from the early childhood I was surrounded by people whose houses were filled with paintings. My mother was the engineer of the utility lines in many buildings in Riga. We were visited by lots of her friends and colleagues: architects, engineers. The house we lived in was named “house of engineers”, inhabited by many people of art. All of this created a special environment, so my interest towards art has risen already at the age of 17. The first thing I started with was collecting my library. After graduating from school I entered Riga Technical University (former Polytechnic Institute of Riga) and, while studying, I was soaking like a sponge all kinds of information on artists, art unions and art movements. I have purchased many encyclopaedic editions, such as Brockhaus and Efron dictionary, and I am still using them almost every day. I am often asked, why do not use the electronic version of this dictionary. But am I a book-man, I was brought up in the traditional, old-style manner, thus gained piety towards the book. To take a volume from a shelf, to hold it in my arms – it is a pleasure to me.

At first I took an interest mostly in applied historic disciplines, such as heraldry, faleristics and numismatics. I received my first painting in oil technique when I was about 18, it came from a very good collection. It was a work of an unknown 18thcentury West-European artist: such a cheerful genre piece named “Revellers”. It stayed with me for 30 years. Recently I have parted from it because I have made a decision to concentrate on Russian school and realized that one can’t have it all.

Sergei Vinogradov. At samovar. 1920s-1930s. Oil on canvas. Collection of Anatol Pedan

I already perceived painting rather emotionally back then, but pieces of art were mostly part of the interior, decoration of the inner space to me. Also my interest in heraldry pushed me in certain direction: I had collected many rare prerevolutionary editions on the subject. In these books I often saw engravings painted with water colour, and I took an interest in engravings and lithography. Nowadays, most collectors do not pay attention to this genre, everyone wants to collect painting, especially oil painting, because it is something fundamental, something worthy. They pay little attention to the drawing, engraving, posters, art postcards in lithograph. But for me all these genres are masterpieces with their own attraction. I began with them. Later, though, I realized that I am still mostly attracted by painting. >>