Creativity and evocation is the highest embodiment of human activity.
If a person chooses this way he or she is fully aware that there is the whole inexhaustible life vibrating in a vast intricate world full of creative search, beauty, and achieving ones full potential open for them.
Whirlpool of art seizes a person leaving only one desire to submit to art and dissolve within its borders. If a young man has ever experienced love in his life he is waiting to live through those feelings again and is looking for love till the end of his life. The same is true about art. As soon as you feel the joy of creation and aesthetic delight from creating a work of art there is no way back for you. You are bond to feel that your life is empty without your favorite occupation. My aim in this article is to share my thoughts on this issue with emerging artists and everyone who is interested in the topic of art, and if to be exact – sculpture, as it is the art I dedicated myself to.
Being a representative of realistic art I am absolutely sure that training process is extremely important for a sculptor as the work should be performed flawlessly from the point of view of professional expertise, but unfortunately it is not sufficient for your creation to be considered a true work of art.
You must have often asked yourself a question: why the works of some authors catch our attention and touch some hidden strings of our souls while a lot of professionally executed works leave us indifferent? Composition is important for sculpture. If the figures are properly arranged and all the masses in space are arranged beautifully and attractively it is already a half of future success. So what about another part of creating a work of art successfully? It is undoubtedly sincerity, sincerity of the choice of topic, reverence in its embodiment, good understanding of the subject, subtle psychological intuition of an artist and a lot more. Generally speaking an artist should be fully absorbed by his creation. If we turn to portrait genre we’ll see that all the artists during the whole period of the history of arts created portraits embodying their contemporaries, outstanding people, relatives and friends. What is more important in a portrait for me?
What is it that created a portrait? It is the understanding of people, the ability to feel the inner self of a person with the whole multifaceted world the depicted person holding within. Think about the portraits by Diego Velázquez of the truhanes series or the portrait of Pope Innocentius X, who said looking at his own representation that it is “too true to life”. That is the way the highest professionalism and subtle psychological and, I would even say, dramatic sense of a great artist are melted together and expressed. Portraits of the midgets from the retinue of the king of Spain Philip IV are striking in their drama. One could have seen them as small physically challenged people, but Velazquez shows great knowledge of life, wit, keenness, and rich inner world of these people. From the portraits by the great master alive people are looking at us. Each of them has his own life force, his own tragedy. The artist’s worthiness lies in the fact that he managed to feel the world of the other person and revealed it in his works thanks to his mastery. But what a modern artist has to do when he is in his studio alone with this work? How can he understand that he is creating a worthy thing? Who can he ask for advice? First of all ask yourself as it is your work and it is you who knows what you want to express in it. Our flying age, the age of high speed, the Internet and computer technology, when a person has to “spin the hamster wheel of life” in order to earn money and not to become an outcast of society makes it more difficult for an artist to understand his own creation, our age gives the artist less time for thorough approach to creative process in general. But never the less I ask you to slow your pace down for a while and to listen to your soul and look inside yourself. In reality each person knows and feels when he has done everything right or had done something wrong. One only has to make notice of it. If your soul says “yes”, you are moving in the right direction and you can leave all the doubts behind. On the other hand modern artists have some advantage as they have an opportunity to see the great achievements of the past, the works by the old masters of the Renaissance period, Old Greece, Egypt, and Rome and this is a great foundation for modern creators. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Verrocchio, Bernini, Velazquez, Auguste Roden, Repin, Serov, Levitan, Falcone and many others… all those names will be forever included in the history of arts thanks to their uniqueness, bright individuality, great talent, great love and devotion to the occupation of their lives. Those people each of whom were using the language of his art praised the beauty of a human, the beauty of nature and all the world around us. They were writing about absolutely different topics from religious to erotic, but everyone can choose what he is interested in. One only has to be sincere with himself and be able to develop the creative potential hidden inside. It seems to me that it is that uniqueness of every person, every creator develops individual style of every artist, a handwriting so to say. This handwriting tells us whose work we see and what the author felt when he created this work of art. Paintings and sculptures executed in a unique way leave a bright trace in the soul of every person.
We describe these very works as true masterpieces. Let’s think about marble sculptures by Michelangelo Buonarroti, in particular his noble David, looking bravely in the eyes of his fate. His posture breathes with firmness and repose, as well as beauty! One should also remember that this sculpture is made of a spoiled block of marble nobody wanted to work with. Michelangelo saw his David in this marble block and flawlessly wrote the whole life, the whole story into an ordinary piece of rock that lacks soul from the first sight, this story fulfills his work even now. One can argue a lot about the proportions of the figures cut by the chisel of the great master, one can say that there are a lot of rather controversial about these proportions, but there is a great number of works flawless from the anatomic point of view, which are long forgotten by the descendants. As for the unique style of sculptures by Michelangelo, his absolutely peculiar understanding of an image and form draws the attention of art experts, artists and many other people who are not so closely connected to the sphere of art. When I visited Italy I had to wait in a long queue to enter the Medici Chapels in Florence. When I entered I could not draw my eyes from the exclusively arranged figures I saw so many times on the photos and in the books on the history of art. All the volume was filled with drama, grandeur and calmness simultaneously. Dimmed light also added to the atmosphere. I could see and experience for myself “Day”, “Night”, “Morning” and “Evening” and I could feel the flow of time moving. Godly figures of Lorenzo and Giuliano Medichi with torsi of ideal proportions towered above the coupled groups. Inner dynamics of postures and gestures gives a feeling that the figures are thread into the volume of the chapel looking into the depth of ages with a keen eye. I have to admit that visiting the Medici Chapels is one of the most exciting experiences I had while visiting Italy. Can an artist work without the wealth of knowledge he obtains while looking at the works by old masters, reading fiction and books on history, watching documentary films and lectures on art history? I have no answer! I did not have such experience. It seems to me that an artist, with a capital “a” the one who is more than an ordinary artist should have significant background of knowledge. This is especially important for opening new opportunities for an artist. Reading enlarges range of topics for creating art compositions.
The more knowledge a person has the more he can tell and show people in his pictures and sculptures. It is particularly true about young sculptors. There exist a great number of remarkable historical events one can embody. There are plenty of heroes from your favorite books who deserve being depictured. Unfortunately there exist a rigid stereotype firmly established among some people that a sculptor is a bearded man wearing a torn sweater and a grease-smeared beret who is messing around his clay and cannot talk to other people and generally lives in an incomprehensible way. A sort of a caveman… I would say. Needless to say, that there are no young people willing to try this image for themselves, to stick on this tag on their personality. It is extremely important for young artists starting to explore some subject to investigate and explore this subject properly, to read the literature on the subject he or she is interested in, to gather all the material possible including photo and video. If you want to model a certain person, you have to study him first before taking hold of the portrait, you have to see his or her typical postures, gestures, mimics, as well as the bearing and characteristic movements of a person. First of all an artist should see an image in his mind and only when a composition or a portrait is completely formed in the artist’s consciousness one can an move on to the embodiment of the image in the material chosen. While performing a life portrait or a sculpture with live models (Here I am not talking about academic setting of the sitters aimed at teaching form) one has to communicate with the person to be able to fully understand his personality, the roots of his thoughts and motives of his actions and only after that one can proceed with work on embodying the image. An artist has to look deep inside the essence of the subject, to extract the core and choose what is important and what is not, which is also really important, as any diligent enumeration of the details without laying an emphasis on the main things makes your work dry and too naturalistic, thus distracting attention from the essence of the depicted subject. I have already said that modern pace of life, especially the one of big cities, imposes its own regulations on an artist, making him glide on the surface without going into the depth. That is why we have a large number of paintings, sculptures, movies and music made in a hurry for the sake of money without covering the subject, without drama, and I would even say without any real talent. The time has its influence on everything. It influences every branch of art. Can you think of a good movie you saw recently?
New movies are produced by “thermite method” there appear more and more of them, as for the quality of the movies it is deteriorating at a desperate speed. The first thing discussed in the trailer is the budget of the movie as if the essence of the movie is getting better because of the amount of money spent on it. Here I am not speaking about special effects used abundantly even in the parts of the movie where they are not needed at all. I have to restate here that this is my personal opinion and I do not claim it to be the universal truth. I am only expressing my own opinion of the situation. One of important stages of becoming an artist is the ability to choose a theme for the work. Everyone chooses for himself what to draw or sculpture in accordance with the inner world, feeling of the reality a person lives in. On the basis of this feeling the master chooses this way or the other.
Once I was thinking about the topic of my works many of which are dedicated to musicians and other creative thinkers. Since childhood I studied music, singing and playing the piano. Later in the youth I learned to play the guitar by myself and I play this instrument with pleasure that is why there is no wonder I turn to this subject in my sculptures. Music is by far the most widely spread, popular and universal art. Music is everywhere!
We can hear music wherever we are, and what is more, there is a melody inside every person which is absolutely unique: some people have sad and calm tunes, for others it is a passionate flamenco or a victorious march. Carefully listening to myself I understood that my attention is drawn to the images of great musicians, to their lives and their immortal musical compositions that is why time and again I turn to this theme. There is Mozart among my sculptures. He is sitting at his favorite harpsichord with a glass of punch in his hand and is composing another wonderful melody.
His hand is about to touch the keys and a note already existing in his genius mind is about to sound. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is portrayed during the moment of creation, at the moment of producing new work of art when all unimportant details are drawn away. There is only music. We know a lot of genius composers and performers among them undoubtedly is Niccolò Paganini the greatest virtuoso of the romantic period. I have made two sculptures devoted to Paganini. One have to say that while thinking of this subject I have read a lot of books about Paganini and listened to music of this Italian composer. All this helped me to discover plenty of interesting details of his life and I could feel his character and essence of his music better. In my composition the musician is portrayed playing the violin. The musician and the musical instrument Paganini loved so much and never parted with till his death are united into a single whole. The archet is about to touch the strings and music is about to start touching the hearts and souls of the viewers and listeners. This topic was later continued. There emerged portrait of V.S. Vysotsky and V.R. Tsoy and I hope to continue work on the images of musicians and other creative thinkers. Not all the artists can be moved by this topic but it is not necessary. The main thing is to find the topic to express your inner world, your feelings and experiences. If you feel that you have found a worthy topic and can fully express yourself when making sculptures and pictures, you have chosen the right way. A lot of sculptors, especially the young ones are carried away with the form and forget about the essence of the work. Like in any other work of art in sculpture it is important to keep the balance between the form and the content so as not to make the composition empty in its essence.
It is similar to making a portrait of a person accurate in its form, but absolutely soulless and by no means psychological in its essence, lacking the understanding of the personality and character as well as the ability to understand the nature. Professional character is undoubtedly important, but if the artist does not fully express himself in his work and only confines himself to orderly forms he gets the pupilary work as the end result. People pass these works by as “trains at full steam” paying no attention to them. As long as we are talking about sculpture, I cannot but say some words about absolutely outstanding master with absolutely unique style. Contemplation of his sculptures leads us to the world of passion and love, the world of erotic if you wish. You have undoubtedly understood whom I am talking about. It is Auguste Rodin. The form in his sculptures overflows from one volume to the other, it looks as if the sculptor does not pay any effort to make life vibrate in the stone veins of his characters. Being a person full of love Rodin embodied love and passion that fulfills his life in his sculptural groups. His works cannot be taken for someone else’s because nobody has ever done sculptures like this.
Bright individuality of the author is fully expressed in his works. “The Kiss” and “The Eternal Spring” are the embodiments of the life itself, they are the subtle feeling of love floating above the world, they are the rapid pulse of spring, breathing with one’s breast, they are tenderness and reverence, they are the beauty of form and unique stylistic of the great master. Each of these moderate compositions consists of a million of decently executed large-scale monuments. Sometimes I am asked a question: “How many hours one should one work on a sculpture? How many hours do you dedicate to sculpturing and when do you have to stop?” During all the time I dedicated to sculpture I understood that one should work while he gets pleasure and satisfaction in what he is doing. Here it is important not to get engaged in a huge number of hours of sculpturing and not to start spoiling your work. As soon as you feel that you are tired you should take a break and have some rest because there exists the best period for work and concentration of attention after which an eye is getting tired and “frays at the edges”. You can work at your composition for a short time but you have to be fully concentrated and attentive, by doing so you can spend only a couple of hours making more than working routinely for the whole week to the point of exhaustion. Needless to say that everyone has his own secret I have just revealed my own. Overcoming the resistance of material is also one of the tasks for a professional sculptor no matter what material you have chosen. Every material has its own potential and the aim of a sculptor is to make the viewer believe that the material has limitless potential and the sculptor has mastered it to the highest degree! The tendency to turn to double standards has appeared long ago and is especially vivid nowadays. Realistic art has to prove that it is up-to-date and needed and can successfully compete with a vast range of new trends existing for a short period each, so called “art of one day”, that never the less become popular and are treated as new, up to date and true art. The aim is clear – to make easy money by selling some “piece of art” advertised by all possible means. I will never believe that installations with buffets with jars or a mousetrap with pieces of fat can be considered as works of art as some “connoisseurs“ argue and exhibited in the museums. The same is absolutely true about sculpture. One has to admit that false art critics and false artists are rather successful in organizing exhibitions of such “art” which imposes bad taste on some people and disconcert the visitors who came to the exhibition waiting to see the exposition full of beauty of forms and colors as well as subtleness. The visitor hears:”Here the true modern art is! All the one existed before is outdated and no one needs it anylonger”. “This mucus smeared-out on the canvas is a new approach. It is a gulp of fresh air in a modern art”. Is it a piece of art if anyone is capable of making it? What do you think? Why do you have to study for years to learn how to feel the form, the color, the composition? Why do you have to study to become a true professional if one can take a dirty wash-cloth pour some glue over it, stick it on a apple packing-box and get an excellent piece of art in return? The most horrible thing about it is that a lot of people attracted by easy money choose this way and think of themselves as artists. Don’t fool yourselves! It goes without saying that one has to look for the new opportunities, and if to be exact, to look for your own way, but it seems to me that an artist has to look for the beauty of the lines, colors and forms, an artist has to reveal if possible all the best sides of his soul and fully reveal his potential. The true art exists on the border of the impossible even if it seems that the piece of art is executed with easiness.
The main thing a person possesses is undoubtedly a choice. What to do, where to go, how to realize ones potential everyone chooses for himself.
Once I asked a rather famous and revered art expert, ‘Could you tell me how do you see a true piece of art, a really worthy work?’ Are there any criteria to reveal a true piece of art? Do you know what he answered? – Yes, I’d say there is one criterion. I was eagerly waiting for the reply. – So, what the criterion is? The answer was, ‘It is a real work of art if you are looking at a painting or a sculpture and it gives you goosebumps all along you spine!’