Born in St Petersburg during the Soviet era, internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor and graphic artist Vitaly Pushnitsky still lives and works in his hometown. His award-winning work typically explores the concepts of space and time and has been exhibited around the world, from New York to Helsinki. Here, Vitaly talks to us about his favourite green spaces and galleries in the city.
What are your earliest memories of St Petersburg?
I was born in Leningrad, so my earliest memories belong to that time when Russia was the USSR. I remember my favourite area of the city, Admiralteysky district, as a place empty of people and cars but full of trees. There were a lot of nightingales singing in May and a lot of ducks and swans swimming in the canals. The city has grown but even today I see the Admiralteysky district as the most romantic and green area of the city.
Where do you go in the city when you’re in need of inspiration?
I like to take early morning walks. I have a dog and we usually walk around the small parks and gardens in the centre of St Petersburg. For me, it’s the best time to think and reflect.
Where’s your favourite place for a special meal in St Petersburg?
I usually prefer to enjoy a meal at home as my wife and my 11 year old son love to cook. If we’re going out to eat, I like to go to unfussy, local places which have often been recommended by friends. I like the New Holland Island Park—there’s a great mix of snack bars alongside various restaurants as well as interesting architecture and a buzzing atmosphere. Located close by, you’ll also find Rubinsteina Street, affectionately known as St Petersburg’s ‘La Rambla’, which has many excellent restaurants and bars.
Describe your perfect day in St Petersburg?
An ideal day for me would be a productive day at work in my studio. I’d then go home and sit on my balcony, with a glass of wine, and enjoy the view of Nikolsky Cathedral, with its magnificent Baroque style and beautiful golden domes. I’d end the day by having friends over for dinner and enjoying plenty of great conversation over a delicious meal.
What are your favourite galleries and museums in St Petersburg?
For me, Marina Gisich Gallery is the most interesting place in St Petersburg for contemporary art. It was certainly one of the first contemporary art galleries to open in the city and now has a prestigious reputation on a national scale. It’s a great place to come to see the work of up-and-coming Russian artists. At the other end of the spectrum, it would be incredibly difficult to beat The State Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage includes a lot of palaces in the city where you can find everything from VR projects to classical art.
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.