Edik Sedunov (left, in the painting below,) and Ivo Turzo…

Edik Sedunov (left, in the painting below,) and Ivo Turzo (right) were my best friends in college. (That’s me in the middle.) Our friendship continued over decades and across oceans, surviving upheavals and epic transformations. Edik passed away a couple of years ago. Ivo is still going strong in his native Slovakia.

I painted this triple portrait from an old black-and-white photograph taken around 1963. In this picture we were staging a scene well-known in European art – “The Card Sharps”. Edik played the swindler, Ivo was the victim, and I was the swindler’s accomplice. I managed to convey the atmosphere of the dorm room in those days fairly accurately, (including the empty bottle of Vodka and the ribbed glass.)

Edik was a gifted artist, a skillful guitarist, and a straight-A student to boot. He taught me how to play the guitar and to love the Russian forest. Ivo was also a wonderful and humorous artist. We formed a team “Se-Ma-Tur” that undertook fairly large artistic projects in the school and in the dormitory.

After graduation Edik went to work in a military research institute in Siberia. When the Soviet Union collapsed and there was no central authority for a while, the workers in that Institute voted him to be Director General. So later in life he was driven around in a black limousine and met with big wigs in the Kremlin. Last time I saw him he came from Omsk to St. Petersburg (a 4-hour flight) to see me. Three years earlier we spent a couple of weeks together (with our wives) in a health resort near Saint Petersburg.

Ivo went to work in the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences where he was an expert on electronics for nuclear stuff. Last time I saw him we met in Berlin a few years ago, and spent a day admiring the bust of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum.

The theme of the card sharps was tackled by many artists, most notably Caravaggio, (see below, bottom.)

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