Leonid and Olga Tikhomirov have both been honored with the title of Merited Artist of Russia.
The couple are among the best people and artists I have ever met – at first, our contact was work-related, but then later we became close friends; I brought my friends Yury Zhdanov, Boris Bekhterov and others to their cozy studio, with its piano and small calico herb-filled bags hanging on the walls. The glorious Nicolai Gedda would sometimes travel all the way from Sweden to visit them, and would sing in his majestic voice romances and duets with Olga, who also has a beautiful voice. With her sleek black hair and emerald-green eyes, Olga is a beautiful woman, too. And a kind one, with that wonderful smile of hers and that cheerful, heart-warming laughter!
They were both keenly sensitive to Russian nature, with its soft fluffy snow, its golden sunsets, summer sunlight, luscious green grass and tender chamomiles.
Olga and Leonid Tikhomirov are the only artists to have painted the great Galina Ulanova from life. She did not like the attention, and had no time to sit for painters. But she finally succumbed to their persuasions after the couple had “chased” her for two years. But the ballerina only agreed after Olga told her on the phone, “After all, Galina Sergeyevna, you have already made your contribution to art, so let us make ours and do what would be the most important work of our lives – your portrait.” And she said, “Now you are talking; now, I just can’t say no.” And she would come to their studio and sit or stand for hours on end; and when once Leonid said to her, “You must be tired of standing still for so long?”, Ulanova beckoned to him and let him touch her leg, which was as hard as a rock, and answered, “Do you really think legs like these get tired?” A magnificent triptych came into being as a result – in the middle, Ulanova, wearing a light, pale lilac dress, looking like an iris flower, is standing, looking stern, slim and tender but also tough and strong. In the right-hand piece, Ulanova is seated on a sofa, holding her head high, and her forehead is clear and open just like that of an Early Renaissance Madonna. In the left-hand piece, she is reflected in a mirror.