The controversy swirling around sculptor Zurab Tsereteli is set to intensify with the planned unveiling of his Pasternak memorial in central Moscow.
While the fate of his gargantuan Peter the Great monument remains uncertain, the artist is pressing ahead with Pasternak despite anger from the writer’s family.
A descendant of the Doctor Zhivago author said the family was delighted that Boris Leonidovich was going to be immortalized – but aghast at Tsereteli’s role.
“We welcomed the plan to put up a monument, and being conscious of the situation with urban sculpture in Moscow we liked the modest scale of the monument,” one of Pasternak’s relatives said, asking not to be named until the family had put forward its official position in public.
“We hoped it would cut out the ‘sharks’ of the memorial business in Moscow, but we were deeply mistaken.
“From the outset the process took a strange turn, seemingly motivated by a desire to exclude those who knew Boris Leonidovich.”
And it is clear that if the family had its way Tsereteli’s designs would be nowhere near the scheme to remember Pasternak.
“Tsereteli embodies all the evil that [ex-mayor Yury] Luzhkov brought to Moscow,” the relative continued. “He created the most odious characters of this period (Peter the Great, the animals at Okhotny Ryad etc) and his work has a lack of basic culture.
“It is characterised by bad taste, revels in luxury and kitsch and is in no way affiliated to real art.
“Needless to say the creativity, vision and life of Boris Leonidovich Pasternak is in no way comparable with the likes of Tsereteli.”
With the statue already built and due to be installed by the end of the year, Tsereteli says he is happy to listen to the family’s views.
“I have created an image that has won the competition and if someone doesn’t like it, they could just come to me and say – change the eyes, the nose or anything else” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding that “I have a museum, and will be happy to keep this monument there.”
And he added that it is not another epic on the scale of Peter, weighing in at a merely twice life-size.
Despite the controversy, Tsereteli has no plans to stop offering the fruits of his muse to Moscow.
With two statues to Luzkhov under his belt and another of Vladimir Putin on display in his Prechistenka gallery he is thinking of adding Dmitry Medvedev to his roll-call of Russia’s modern-day greats.
“I’ve got plans to create monuments to all my famous contemporaries,” he said. “I’ve got Mikhalkov, Bashmet, Tabakov. There’s Putin as well, it’s called ‘Sound mind in a sound body’.”