Rostislav Gorelov. The Camp Sketches

3 july – 25 september

In 1933, 28 young men were arrested in Moscow and Moscow Oblast. They were accused of participating in the Union of Russian Patriots, a certain counterrevolutionary Fascist terror group.

Rostislav Gorelov was one of the 28 convicted persons. This 17-year old student of the Polygraphic Institute “called upon” overthrowing the Bolshevik’s power, eliminating collective farms, murdering Stalin together with the leadership of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and members of the Soviet Government.

At first, it seemed that a quiet and happy life awaited him: studies in an art institution with likeminded people, the upward move in a career most likely due to the patronage of his father Gavriil Nikitich Gorelov, who was a successful artist back then. However, the story unfolded according to the laws of the time. Rostislav Gorelov was declared a terrorist and sent to the Temnokovsky Corrective-Labor Camp for 2 years (not far from Potma station in the Mordovian Autonomous Okrug). The events that the young prisoner saw and experience left an indelible imprint in his memory and haunted him all his life – unexpected arrest, pressure during the investigation, violence, interaction with criminals, backbreaking work at logging sites, hunger, diseases, and death. Four decades later, Gorelov wrote memoirs, accompanied them with sketches, researched the archive file in order to create portraits of his co-prisoners based on the photographs taken during the investigation.

The series of sketches by Rostislav Gorelov from the collection of the GULAG History Museum represents episodes from the life of a person who faced the repression. Here you can see a generalized character in typical circumstances: arrest, interrogation, prison, prisoner transportation, life in camp barracks, camp hospital. Gorelov’s works are of special value because they were created based on his memories of a direct participant. Excerpts from these memoirs are presented at the exhibition in the form of quotations accompanying his paintings. The exhibition also includes Gorelov’s works from the collection of the International Memorial Society that he created during his imprisonment.