Post sponsored by

MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

We look at paintings by Tsoi, drafts of his songs, photographs, important documents and much more.

The biopic exhibition “Viktor Tsoi. The path of the hero”, dedicated to the 60th anniversary of his birth. It covers several areas of the legendary musician’s life, helps to trace his path from a fireman working in a coal boiler house to an artist who conquered the whole world with his songs, paintings, and acting. Exhibits for the exhibition were provided by the musician’s father Robert Maksimovich, son Alexander, as well as friends, collectors and fans. You can study some of these items online — the curators of the exhibition Joel Bastiner and Valeria Halgash told about the most interesting.

A QR code is required to visit the exhibition. Plan your visit in advance, do not forget about personal protective equipment and maintain social distance.

Choi and his idols

Viktor Tsoi’s musical taste was largely shaped by David Bowie, The Beatles, Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, Duran Duran. He collected their albums, treasured each record. A special place in his collection was occupied by the vinyl of the French rockers Noir Desir – the one that was presented to Tsoi by his friend, diplomat and writer Joel Bastiner, one of the curators of the exhibition.


Choi once hung posters depicting idols all over his room. Many of them he redrawn with watercolors himself, copying them from magazines that friends brought from abroad. The musician sold some posters at the local market in Leningrad: he took five rubles apiece (at that time it was not cheap, but people bought it).

Choi the artist

Viktor Tsoi could become a professional artist. In 1974-1977, he studied at a secondary art school in Leningrad, then entered the Leningrad Art School named after V.A. Serov. True, he did not finish it like that – in the second year he was expelled for poor progress. But he did not forget about painting – in addition to sketching posters depicting musicians, he painted original paintings: “New World”, “Duel”, “Kiss”, “Seventh Heaven”, “Forest” and many others, more than 70 in total. He has several self-portraits, as well as the playful “I didn’t have time to paint a picture” – with the same words, but without a picture. The most common heroes are funny square men, whom he used in various plots, whether it was a love date or a prehistoric hunt.

Tsoi wrote not only on paper, but also on kitchen oilcloth, packing foam rubber – in a word, on everything that came to hand. He once brought a set of professional acrylic felt-tip pens from the USA, but out of 32 he managed to use only three: orange, pink and purple. Imi wrote “The Last Hero”, “Balcony” and “Road”.

For the children of his second wife, Natalya Razlogova, Tsoi sculpted funny plasticine figurines depicting fantasy creatures, and carved miniature sculptures of netsuke out of wood.

Choi musician

In 1982, the samizdat magazine Ukho, which tells about the Moscow-Leningrad underground on its pages, devoted an article to the first album of the Kino group created by Tsoi. The material turned out to be devastating: in it the team’s game was called “rattling the strings”, compared with other groups and argued what “Kino” (and the album “45” in particular) lacks. It cannot be said that Tsoi was not at all hurt by offensive words, but he continued to adhere to the given direction in creativity. And already a year later, after the release of the second album (“46”), the opinion of the editors – and many listeners – changed a lot for the better.

In addition to the issue of the magazine itself, other things related to Tsoi’s musical career have survived: numerous handwritten drafts of lyrics, cassettes with his signature, concert guitars and clothes in which he performed, such as a leather jacket and jeans. And also – a favorite ring in the form of a cat’s head (it cracked during the accident in which Tsoi died). This jewelry was brought to the musician from the USA by his friend Joanna Stingray, a popularizer of Soviet and post-Soviet rock culture in the West, a singer and music producer. Many of these items have been in sealed boxes for over 30 years.


From the autumn of 1986 to 1988, Viktor Tsoi worked as a fireman in a coal boiler house under the popular name “Kamchatka” (now there is the Tsoi club-museum of the same name under the direction of producer Sergei Firsov, who also worked there). By the mid-1980s, Tsoi was already quite famous in the Leningrad rock scene: he played with Kino and recorded two albums, one of which was with the assistance of Boris Grebenshchikov and the Aquarium group. It was during this period that he met Joel Bastener.

“By the end of 1987, he received the main income from concerts. But when we met, he still had shifts in the boiler room – two days a week. I liked him at first sight: he was moderately ironic, sensitive, silent, very wise. He spoke little about himself, this modesty immediately bribed me, ”recalls Bastener.

Когда «Камчатка» закрывалась как котельная, поэт и музыкант Андрей Машнин, тоже работавший там, снял со стен, чтобы сохранить, многие из украшавших ее самодельных плакатов и коллажей. Среди них оказалась самодельная табличка «Осенняя “Камчатка”». На ней перечисляется состав рабочего коллектива и рядом с каждым именем — прозвища: начальник Анатолий Соколков («властный наместник подземной страны»), Сергей Фирсов («старый хитрый кочегар»), Виктор Цой («ушлый модный запевала») и другие. Сохранились также разнообразные заявления, табели и прочие документы музыканта, имеющие отношение к «Камчатке».

Choi traveler

In the late 1980s, work in the boiler room was a thing of the past. A new life began, full of concerts and tours, including abroad. In Tsoi’s family archive, a foreign passport, visas, air tickets, applications and questionnaires for the visa and registration department have been preserved. Traveling to other countries was not easy then, and for Tsoi everything was complicated by the lack of a Moscow residence permit – he was registered in the house of his first wife Maryana. To draw up the necessary documents, he had to constantly travel to Leningrad. Choi filmed all his trips abroad with his video camera, in those days it was a real luxury. In addition to videos, he brought home souvenirs and things bought abroad: for example, in 1990, a kimono from Japan was replenished in his closet.

Thanks to Joanna Stingray, Tsoi and Kino were known in the USA, fans were waiting for new records and concerts. His paintings were also highlighted: one day, Joanna showed several paintings to the legendary Andy Warhol, who, approving them, signed for the author a can of the same Campbell soup – the first thing that came to hand. Tsoi never opened it – he kept it as a keepsake. In Europe, the popularizer of his work was Joel Bastener, whose archive contains the disc “Kino”, released in France in March 1989. Tsoi chose the songs for her himself – Bastener also kept the list for the release, written by the musician’s hand.

But Tsoi had the largest number of fans, of course, in his homeland. Fans sent him letters to Leningrad, to the address of his parents’ apartment. Messages – every single one – were handed over to the musician, he read them and, if possible, tried to answer. Schoolchildren wrote that they admired him, the girls confessed their love, and the guys invited him to visit their cities in a friendly way. One letter remained sealed – marked “comrade postman, understand us fans, we just don’t know the address” it miraculously reached the addressee, but Tsoi did not have time to read it.

Choi actor

Tsoi was also successful in the acting field. He starred in eight films, some of which are documentaries. Feature film directors appreciated him for his artistry and charisma. Viktor Tsoi can be seen in Assa (1987) by Sergei Solovyov and The Needle (1988) by Rashid Nugmanov. In the latter, he played the role of Moreau, a young man who saves his friend from drug addiction. This work was appreciated not only by fans, but also by critics: the Soviet Screen magazine named Tsoi the actor of the year. Nugmanov kept the original script with notes that were made, among other things, by Tsoi. The actor sometimes corrected his lines.

“At first he doubted: “I’m not an actor, not a playwright.” But that was just what was required. I explained, “You’re absolutely cinematic and you just have to be yourself.” I gave him the example of Bruce Lee and James Dean – both of them did not play anyone on the screen, and it turned out that both of them are his idols, ”recalls the director.

And in 1990, Tsoi was supposed to star in The Citadel of Death, a cyberpunk film by Rashid Nugmanov, the second part of The Needle. According to the plot, Moro, who fell in love with the audience, continued to fight evil – but already outside the country. Everything was almost ready: the script for the film was written by William Gibson, the producers from Japan planned to start work, Bruce Willis and David Byrne were approved for the roles, except for Tsoi, and the scenery was assembled. Nugmanov kept props in his collection that were never useful to him: road signs, painted tires, metal tanks, some clothes, a chair with the name of an actor, and much more.

Filming did not take place due to the death of Viktor Tsoi – he died on August 15, 1990. The family archive preserved an item related to the tragic event: a cassette of the New Composers group, which was playing in Tsoi’s car at the time of the fatal accident. By a strange coincidence, the album that the musician listened to then was called “Exactly today! Right now!”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

MIL OSI Russia News