Little is known about the artist Ilya Kagan. He came from a small village in the Ukraine but was deported to a camp in the far north (why, nobody knew). Upon his return in the 1960's he continued to paint his fantastic pictures with the same spirit of the 1920's; it was as though he was "frozen" in the pre-lager past.

There is an interesting anecdote about Kagan: when he returned from the lager he wanted to join the local artists union in order to be allocated canvass, paper, paint and other materials available only to members of the union. The local Party boss, an anti-Semite, refused claiming that he was not a good citizen. In order to placate the Party officials, Kagan painted a picture in honour of "The First of May Workers Holiday", representing, among other subjects, two lovers (a painting which will be available to the Lili Brochetain Collection in the coming weeks) and brought to the Party office as a gift. It was refused because the lovers looked too "typical" for a First of May. So kagan was never admitted into the union, fell out of the register, and was almost forgotten.

Adapted from the Russian weekly: "Russkaia Misl" published in Paris, of Jan.21, 1993.


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