Vadim Gorbatov, Russia’s greatest wildlife artist, was born in Moscow in 1940. He started drawing when he was only four: “…I started to draw animals. One time in kindergarten, prior to the New Years’ holiday, while children were sleeping, a room for games was decorated with stuffed birds and mammals, dry tree branches, leaves, and cotton. When I entered the room, I was stunned. This picture impressed me so profoundly that I remember it today, sixty years later.”
“When other kids were playing soccer or flirting with girls, I wandered in the woods, fields and swamps. I had half a binocular, and I knew all the nests of the birds and dens of the mammals in our forest.”
He went on to college but soon returned to his fascination with wildlife, where he gained his fame. He traveled everywhere, first through the Soviet Union, then, as restrictions ended, to India and Alaska and many other wild places.
Birds of prey and falconry have always fascinated him. “Hunting with birds of prey has a special place in my mind. I am fascinated with this kind of hunting; it is simply a part of nature’s process…. everything is in the process, not in the result.”
Fidget’s Freedomis Vadim’s first work for a American audience, and is a wonderful display of his work. He depicts, as he often does, the edge where humans and wildlife meet. Here you will find the tale of birds whose environment was damaged by humans coming back to their home with human help, see both the Rocky Mountain wilderness and the hack box that is the young falcons’ home and refuge until they can fly well enough not to need it. He depicts the birds as individuals— look at the difference between big, bold, strong Fidget, who steals food from her brother, and him. (Female falcons are larger than the males).
Look carefully at all his details—Vadim Gorbatov teaches and even amuses as he makes images of great beauty. I hope this will be the first of many books he will illustrate for an American audience.