Konstantinov's Riddle
In our city, where the right person can often be found through a couple of mutual friends, it was almost impossible to find an author of a number of monumental bas-reliefs that decorate the iconic buildings of Almaty.
Architectural researchers Adilzhan Psyayev and David Kaminsky spent several weeks looking for information about Viktor Konstantinov and any mention of him in documents of those years. From the "Artists of Kazakhstan" factbook published in 1987, they learned that our hero was born in 1926 in Irkutsk region, graduated from the Leningrad Mukhina Higher School of Art and Design, and participated in the Second World War.

Many of his works are still preserved – for example, a decorative composition in front of "Alatau" hotel. In "Arman" cinema he created facade bas-reliefs with a total area of 220 square meters, and "crown" - wrought iron fence around the perimeter of the roof with a complex ornamental pattern. The team tirelessly researched the archives, but could not find any drawings of the "crown", or any data about the Konstantinov family.

At the Kasteyev State Museum of Arts they could not tell anything - the artist never exhibited, he worked only as a monumentalist. Valeriya Ibrayeva, Art Critic and Author of "Monumental Art of Kazakhstan" and Saule Bultrikova, the former head of the Union of Artists, also did not have information about Viktor Innokentyevich.
Searches, like walking through a maze, everywhere ran into a dead end. The investigation began to resemble the plot of a Dan Brown novel, with one exception - the case did not throw any clues and prompts. After months of work, we didn't even know if the artist was alive.

Aleksandr Korzhempo, Architect and Project Designer of the "Arman" cinema, said that before Almaty, he and Konstantinov worked together in Frunze - now Bishkek. It became clear that it is necessary to go to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, but there Adilzhan and David could find only a few of his works - the rest were not spared by the time and the owners of the buildings (see Search for Konstantinov's Language).

It seemed that the search is over and an identity of the artist will remain incognito. But in early February 2019, Art Curator Dilda Ramazan, a member of the team, accidentally learned that her friend Leonid Khan, a young artist, had painted a portrait of Viktor Konstantinov in 2011.

We met with Leonid in the "Arman" cinema and learned that Viktor Innokentyevich died without seeing his portrait.

It was a project that the artists made with the Union of Veterans, deciding to capture the surviving veterans on canvas. "We brought someone to the studio, talked with them and made sketches. Konstantinov could not come to us for health reasons, so we went to him ourselves. Despite his ill health, he himself opened the door for us. Leaning on the walls, he moved quietly around the apartment. There was also his second son at home, whom the the family adopted; he had some serious illness, he was immobilized," recalls Leonid.
Portrait of Konstantinov. Artist: Leonid Khan
"I remember the surprisingly kind eyes of Konstantinov, even through the veil of old age, they retained a sparkle. He talked about his work, about the "Skaters" at Medeo. In the war, he reached Berlin, having got to the front as the yesterday's schoolboy," says the artist.

Before the exhibition at the House of Veterans, Leonid called Konstantinov to invite him to the opening and offered to call for him, but Viktor Innokentyevich answered: "No, do not call for me, I will not be alive." When the artist called him the next time to give the portrait, it was his wife who answered.

Unfortunately, Leonid could not remember the address of Konstantinov's apartment, and the phone number had long been lost. We learned a little more about our hero, but never found a thread connecting with his family.

Not losing hope, on April 5, Dilda went to Almaty Council of Veterans to find contacts of Konstantinov's relatives who can live in Almaty. It turned out that the Council does not hold the data of deceased veterans...