Vakhek, Ivan Bogumilovich
Ivan Bogumilovich Vakhek was born in 1880 in Prague. In his youth, he was a member of Sokol, a gymnastics club with ties to Czech and Pan-Slavic nationalism. In 1902, he moved to Tbilisi, Georgia to work at a special Sokol school, and later found work as an interpreter in the Czech Embassy there. It was for his work in diplomacy that he was exiled in 1932 to Almaty, suspected for espionage during the paranoid reign of Stalin.
In Almaty, Vakhek began work for the All-Russian Cooperative Association of Artists, a precursor to the Arts Fund that would later dominate monumental art in Kazakhstan. In the years from 1935-1937, he would work on some of Kazakhstan’s first bas-relief sculptures, most of which still survive: bas-relief panels at the former Ministry of Social Provisions, later known as KazPivo and the Book Museum (1935-1936); the Almaty-2 train station (1936); School #12 (1936), and the Philharmonic Building, which was then the Sovnarkom House of Culture. Vakhek also completed works that would later be lost, like a statue to Felix Dzerzhinskiy that was in Almaty’s Pine Park and the facades and interior of the Kazkraisoyuz Cafeteria.
In 1937, as Stalin’s Terror ramped up, Ivan Vakhek was again arrested and sent to a camp in February of 1938. By September of that year, he would be shot dead.