«Блажен, кто посетил сей мир в его минуты роковые...»
Blessed be he who visited this world In its fatal hours…
All the participants of the exhibition, fifteen masterly artists, are representatives of one and the same generation. You are all older than half a century, some of you are 50, others will be 60 before long. Each of you has taken your own course in life, each has had quite a few exhibitions in their lifetime. What does this particular exhibition mean for you?
This exhibition is necessary in order to restore historical justice.
In the history of Russian culture of the second half of the 20th century there has already taken place the art of ‛thaw‛, the art of the 60s and the 70s. The terms ‛shestidesiatniki‛ (artists of the sixties) and ‛semidesiatniki’ (artists of the seventies) imply concrete content as well as concrete names. Our generation went right after them. However, we happened to begin our creative activity in the fatal 80s.
Perestroika, disintegration of the
By the end of the century there appeared a paradox, a topsy-turviness of its kind: those artists that had proclaimed themselves ‛non-conformists‛, adepts of ‛other art‛, became basically official, whereas those who pursued like us the policy of plastic art turned out to be ‛non-conformists‛.
There were many people then who couldn’t help feeling that art had come to a standstill. Death of painting was proclaimed once again.
The art of the end of the 20th, beginning of the 21st centuries is a vast stratum of culture. ‛Conceptualism‛, ‛Actual Art‛ and some other varieties of postmodernism that claim to be called ‛contemporary art‛ is but a visible, widely declared top of the iceberg, which, in fact, has a lot to hide under the water.
M.: Being an art historian I am interested in your views on the contemporary artistic life, on the art of the turn of the centuries.
L.: I am not inclined to divide art into advanced or backward artistic trends. In fact, I am not inclined to divide art at all. The art is good when there is a lot of it and it is diverse.
Culture is a complex organism. It is one whole where all is interconnected and mutually enriched. It is only in the intersection of perpendicular directions that something really genuine and significant may be born. We are having sort of an internecine war among different outlooks. Everyone declares that he or she is in the right. He who sits on your right exchanges shots with the one on your left, and whenever you sit in the middle you can hear bullets whistling above your head. Even though you don’t seem to participate in this war, you may by chance be injured all the same. It’s unfortunate but in
In my opinion, the end of the 20th century made it explicit for the humankind that it is indispensable to treat tradition synthetically. The age began with the destruction of traditions and schools, and, closer to the end of the century, it became clear that it is impossible to wave history aside, to confine oneself only to one century or to the time of one’s life; this is unfair and senseless. Essentially, a man should feel oneself within centuries and millenniums.
Without deep, overwhelming school, without traditions and trades the new Renaissance would never spring up, there is no doubt about it.
M.: Presumably, the last quarter of the century is a sufficient historical distance to make an attempt to comprehend and value the art of ‛vosmidesiatniky‛, where plastic art that retains cultural traditions and respects the trade of the artists is still as important as it was in the past years.
L.: I hope that our exhibition will be able to represent this art in the fitting manner in the works of fifteen highly professional masters, whose names are well known both abroad and at home.
Accidentally, the interest for plastic art becomes more and more evident in the whole world.
M.: In order to represent this angle of Russian art in various aspects, it is necessary, perhaps, to extend the number of names considerably.
L.: Generally speaking, we have quite a good set of artists. At the same time, I am sure there is someone missing, for Russian plastic art as a phenomenon is much wider.
M.: How was your group put together? Is there anything that unites you?
L.: I strongly object to our being called ‛a group‛. We have known each other for a long time, we regard with deference the work of each of us. We write about each other in the catalogues. We make one intimately close circle, which is pledge of friendship and respect. It is in the nature of man to keep looking for one’s own water level where he would have enough oxygen.
We are united by adherence to the plastic school of art and to our professional craft. In all the other respects, we are quite unlike each other, we are completely independent. Everyone is an individual. Like an island.
M.: And this is the reason why you called this exhibition ‛
L.: If there is an island and someone with a human soul lives there, it becomes inhabited. It seems to me that every one of us is an island endowed with a live conscience, live soul, live emotions. And that’s why this island is inhabited.
We are all subject to change. Drive, colour, questions we keep asking ourselves do vary with years. One thing, however, remains intact, entirely untouched, it is the wish to hide ourselves in the refuge of our own art, to stay there on our own, as if on an island, and be aware that we belong to the great eternal world. It is the wish to appear before God, without mysteries and embroideries. For we all live under one sky. We come and go, and the sky remains unimpaired.