From México to Russia. The tale of a reclining woman


Zarina Martínez

Evegueny Evtushenko visited México during the Cultural Olympics in 1968. The Olympic Committee informed Ricardo Martínez that the young Soviet poet wished to be acquainted with him. It is likely that Evtushenko had seen works by Ricardo Martínez shown at the great exhibition of Mexican Art in Moscow during the early sixties, thus his interest in visiting Martinez. 

One Saturday in April Evtushenko arrived in Etna 32, where Ricardo Martínez worked and lived with his family. The visit lasted all day, at the end of which Ricardo Martínez gave Evtushenko the painting which is the subject of this text. Despite its considerable size (90 by 150 cm), Reclining woman in green, arrived in Moscow without a scratch.

Reclining woman in green, 1967

Ricardo Martínez and Evgueny Evtushenko never met again, but they did send each other friendly messages through unexpected channels. At some stage, Evtushenko wrote to Martínez that he always had the painting before him and that it gave him inspiration to write his poetry.

Ricardo Martínez and Evgueny Evtushenko, 1968

After Ricardo Martínez’s passing, several attempts were made to contact Evtushenko in Moscow in order to register the painting.  Evtushenko died in April 2017, almost forty years after his encounter with Ricardo Martínez, and it seemed more unlikely than ever to find and have access to the painting.

A visit to the Museum of Contemporary Russian History in Moscow at the end of September 2017, surprisingly led to the painting. During his life, Evtushenko had decided to donate his Russian and international art collection to the state and had even designed a gallery, which is nowadays on the same plot as his house in Peredelkino, the writers’ dacha complex outside Moscow, and which is named after him. The gallery is a branch of the History Museum and was thus advertised in an interactive map in the lobby. The map showed different images of the gallery, among them Martínez’s work.

The Museum director’s secretary very kindly gave me the data of the director of the Gallery in Peredelkino, Nina Nazírova. I called her immediately and, when I explained my errand, she invited me to visit the gallery the next day. Each one of us told what we knew about that morning in April 1968, which almost forty years later led to another encounter, equally close, between two departed artists…

Nina Nazírova, director of Evgueny Evtushenko Gallery in Peredelkino, Russia, and Zarina Martínez, 2017