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Victor Ruzo. Life and Work
(Ludwig Museum in the Russian Museum)

10 October - 20 November 2003
The Marble Palace

The exhibition dated to the ninetieth birthday of the Swiss artist and philosopher Victor Ruzo introduces his works of different oeuvre periods, which depict his unique life story, a story of a peculiar oeuvre phenomenon. Viktor Rutz (the real name of the artist) was born in 1913 in St Gallen. He grew up in the poor quarters of Zurich-Wiedikon in a happy family of eight people (six children). Even at the age of five he startled people with his realistic pictures, which were returned from contests always with some answer like: "Next time do the drawings yourself! A blind man can see that they could not possibly have been drawn by a child". As an adolescent Victor Rutz surprised the world with his hyperrealistic posters and became the leader of Swiss poster art. However, after the World War II, he stops making posters and turns to painting. He creates portraits of his beloved wife and child along with expressionistic gloomy paintings of victims of Nazism. It is then that Victor Rutz turns into Victor Ruzo. After the war Victor Ruzo turns to modern art. In 1960s he makes abstract paintings on metal. However, it was not until early 1970s that he formed his style, influenced by his travels through India and studies of Indian philosophy. Problems of introducing philosophical themes, themes of history of universe and people creation into painting take central part in the artist's mind, which brings him close to symbolism tradition. There is nothing accidental in the fact that talking of his "idols" in art, Ruzo names Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali, and Picasso, each of whom sought to reach universalism in their oeuvre. One of the central works by Ruzo is Revolving Picture of the World (finished in 1967). He spent 15 years creating it. It is a huge canvas attached to a disk. This painting presents, in every of its four aspects, stages of human life, cognition of being. Ruzo supposes that the world needs to be reminded of values of human community life, which are based on single spiritual and material life, for the sake of still unknown future and in order to not repeat our historical past - internal war that had torn Europe. In 1980s the artist paints a series of child portraits, which depict children of the future as a mixture of all races and so presents an argument against racial, religious, and national discrimination. Victor Ruzo's life has been a series of trials - family tragedy goes together with artist personal one. Terrible fire that killed his paralysed daughter and destroyed Ruzo's museum - some 500 works and archive materials of the artist. In the next two years two of his other children die. However, the artist's philosophy of joy and vital force of art helped him to live through it, reconstruct his museum, and go on creating paintings. The retrospective exhibition held in St Petersburg is dated to the artist's ninetieth birthday. The choice of the place was not accidental. The city turned 300 this year and was partly built by Swiss masters.