Eye. Amulet of Valeria

Valeria Mokeeva


The beginning XIX centuries is marked by occurrence in St. Petersburg unique, creative group. Empress Maria Fedorovna, wife of Paul 1, together with the architects N.Brenna, K.Rossi and carver J.Fai have created a line of unique work of art in style of &quotRussian classicism" with usage ivory, amber, wood and gilded bronze. Valeria Mokeeva after 200 years could splendidly continue their undertaking, by executing refined "Pavlovsk casket&quot.
At the same time, from the early period of her creative activity, Valeria felt towards the "Silver Age" of St. Petersburg culture, that is, towards the times of the prime of Art-deco in the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. And Valeria created an unprecedented series of works,
such as statuettes in "Retro" style and decorative compositions "The Rose' and "The Bowl" with the use of the most sophisticated techniques combining ordinary horn with mammoth ivory, when horn looks like stone, amber or cloth.
These works do not have analogues in the world history of bone carving.
Valeria is ready to accomplish any intricate order.

Pavlovsk Casket
"Pavlovsk Casket"
17,7'' x 12,9'' x 14,2''
mammoth tusk, gilded bronze, wood, mirrors
in private collection. USA.
Casket "Cupid with basket"
Casket"Cupid with basket"
6,8'' x 4,5'' x 4,2''
mammoth tusk, gilded bronze, wood

Toilet box
"Art Deco"
1988, H-2,3'', bone
in Moscow Kremlin Museum.
Basket with Roses
Toilet box
"Basket with roses"
1992, H-4,6''
mammoth tusk, horn
Sculpture "Rose"
Sculpture "Rose"
mammoth tusk, horn
in private collection. Russia.
Sculpture "Walk"
Statuette "Walk"
mammoth tusk, horn, wood
Sculpture "Arrogance"
Statuette "Arrogance"
mammoth tusk, horn, bone, wood
Sculpture "Strictness"
Statuette "Strictness"
mammoth tusk, horn, bone
in Moscow Kremlin Museum.
The Bowl
horn, mammoth tusk

Candlestick 1
The not realized project
K.Rossi 1803.
Candlestick 1

Candlestick 2
The not realized project
K.Rossi 1803.
Candlestick 2

Temple of Glory
The not realized project K.Rossi 1803.
Desktop art object
"Temple of Glory "

M.Y. Kryzhanovskaya, State Hermitage Museum, 1993

    Bone, be it ivory, walrus or domestic animal bone or horn as kindred to it, is a wonderful and distinctive material...
... Yet the twentieth century opened new artistic perspectives for this material, making it reveal another aspect when combined with various metals. Very promising turned out to be the combination of bone and horn.
    It is in this technique that Valeria Mokeeva, St. Petersburg artist, professional carver and General Director of Petropol Gallery, showed her best. Though the number of works is not very big for the last decade when Valeria Iosifovna started her independent activity, her twenty objects demonstrate one of her best strengths, the sense of natural match between the solid bone and the schistose substance of horn, which may seem not very effective. The best example is the "The Bowl" (1988). It constitutes fantastical and obscure floral design of the stand carved from mammoth ivory. It is not a real stem with real leaves but a free interlace of sprouts and scrolls, which spring up and there, as if similar to soft hands, support the semi-transparent, fragile horn cup. What is very important for a decorative piece of art, the cup distinctly expresses the combination of the supporting and supported parts; the proportions are very good; and the qualities of both materials are exposed at their best...
... Yet the artist is not only fond of applied art. Her series "In the Retro Style" (1987-1989) is very fascinating. Small refined statuettes personify "Coquetry", "Strictness", "Delicacy", "Arrogance". Intentionally doll-like heads make the figures look non-ambitious of any serious character and mainly emphasise the playful and easy theme. The artist concentrates on the effects of the material and perfects it quite masterly. Bone and horn easily turn into heavy velvet or into airy lace of the flounce. The "Strictness" statuette enchants with its flickering "satin" dress; the "Coquetry" nearly loses its light scarf, which may be gone with the wind... These images are created with the visual effects, and we feel how the ideas turn into something imperceptibly light, cheerful, and sunny.
    The artist is already full of new plans and ideas. We may expect things more impressive and meaningful that will open new perspectives for her talent. V.I. Mokeeva is particularly interested in the decorative interior mammoth ivory sculpture, which gives wide opportunities for this wonderful material, the bone.

M.Y. Kryzhanovskaya, Ph.D. in Arts,
Researcher of the European Department,
State Hermitage Museum

From the Catalogue of the "Theatrum Machinarum, or the three epochs of bon-carving in St. Petersburg",
Hermitage - Petropol, 1993

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© Valeria Mokeeva. 2000