Victor and the White Deer
Renowned artist Victor Bakhtin lived for some years in an old farmhouse on an obscure Sauk County back road between Leland and Prairie du Sac.
An unexpected encounter with a white deer one day in 1998 both amazed and inspired him. He instantly had ideas for a painting. The finished product, “Ghost of Winter,” was completed in 1999.
Originally from Russia, Victor made his way to the U.S. and Sauk County in 1994 through his connections with George Archibald and the International Crane Foundation. Some of his incredible natural landscapes can be found at the ICF headquarters near Baraboo and in the orientation theater in Madison’s UW Arboretum Visitor Center.
A painting by Victor, “Sauk Prairie Remembered: A Vision for the Future,” has become the visual depiction of the goal of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance–a group working to restore the land at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant between Prairie du Sac and Baraboo. The painting is iconic of Victor’s ability to handle a rich tapestry of detail within a broad and historic landscape.
Victor reveled in the beauty and detail of nature and saw his work as an attempt to solve a natural code–what he called “touching the mystery“:
“Nature…is subject to the laws of universal harmony, and it’s a great pleasure to study it in the detail available to my eye and brain. This is a daily touch of a secret attempt to move closer to the ‘code’ of the harmony.”
Victor was also struck by both the toughness of nature and its incredible vulnerability:
“I want those who look at my paintings to understand my admiration for the beauty of nature, as well as be astonished by nature’s incredible persistence and terrifying vulnerability.”
A white deer can still be seen in the area where Victor once lived–probably a descendant of the one that inspired Victor’s painting. Victor, however, is no longer with us. He passed away a year ago in November after a long illness. Victor’s artwork and its significance in the conservation of nature are the outstanding legacies he leaves behind.
Click here to view an excellent selection of Victor’s paintings. The website is in Russian, but his paintings need no interpreter. Here you will not only get a glimpse of a bird or animal caught in time, but also a glimpse of the gifted soul who “touched the mystery“ and passed it on.