Valentin passed away this December, surrounded by loving family. He was 84. We will always remember him for his sense of humor and the wonderful times we all had.
Valentin Kovalyov was born in 1932 in Odessa, Ukraine.
In 1939, he lived with his family in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. There, he was fascinated by the beautiful mosaics of the ancient mosques. Many of them were chipping away and in disrepair. There were a few local men that kept slowly picking up the pieces and restoring these mosaics. As a young boy, Valentin came every day to watch them work. He’d watch and help gather the pieces. Eventually one of the older men allowed him to help with the restoration. That was the first time that he fell in love with this ancient art form.
“But if you have seen buildings of Samarkanda, you will be enchanted by its magic forever.” -ancient poem
After his service in the army, and a brief amateur boxing career, Valentin started working as an artist. He specialized in mosaics, stone, marble, wood and metal monumental works. From 1961 to 1979 he had made hundreds of government sponsored mosaic murals all over Ukraine and Moldavia. Especially in and around the city of Odessa. Some were on facades of buildings, others were on bus stops, some ran an entire building block depicting many scenes from Russian fairy tales. Many were in cafes and restaurants, as well as markets and parks. He wasn’t the only one, there were many other artists working on these type of projects.
Some of the works that he and others had labored so hard to create are still up. Unfortunately many were allowed to fall into disrepair during the period of political and economic instability after Ukraine gained its independence.
He immigrated to U.S.A. in 1979. Whenever time and life allowed, Valentin continued to work on mosaics. He continued making them to his last day. On this page you will find many original mosaics made by Valentin Kovalyov today, as well as some from the past.
These are Valentin’s mosaics that he made in the last few decades! While not all of them are here (sometimes they wind up being sold or given away before I get a chance to photograph them) I do my best to include as many as possible! These are the ones I was able to photograph since 2000.
based on Fairy Tales
Based on Pushkin’s Poem
Details, as it is rather large (think 4 feet by 2 feet).
Religious and spiritual Themes
Birds and Flowers
Music, Sunshine, and more
Mosaics by Valentin Kovalyov: Earlier Works
Click here to see Valentin’s mosaics from an earlier time in his career. He brought over some photographs with him when he immigrated, and others we found after extensive research online. These were done prior to his immigration in 1979. Please keep in mind that these are not all. There were many more of them. A lot of them lost in time.
These images from fairy tales decorated a side of a school building. Unfortunately, the building fell into disrepair, and you can scroll down to see what they looked like after.
More mosaics from various buildings
A big thank you to Alely for taking these recent photos.