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Originally published in The Moscow Times on November 26, 1999

The lioness reclining on a bed of flowers looks so gentle, visitors are tempted to reach out and touch her. But this cat is made, not of fur and whiskers, but of canvas and paint - it is one of many adorable subjects in Yelena Volkova's collection of paintings entitled "I Love Animals and People," currently on display at the Dar Gallery.

The 84-year-old Volkova, Russia's oldest, best-known "naive" artist, a genre based on the rejection of tradition and technique, has plenty of affection for both animals and people.

"Everything started with the love and beauty into which I was born," she said. "I had beautiful parents." Volkova's idyllic childhood on her family's farm on the banks of the Don River in Ukraine has been the inspiration for much of her work: her smiling fish, dreamy horses…

Read the full text at The Moscow Times.