Every art has its own tasks
in the spiritual life of man. If we should understand
sculpture as one of the manifestations of human
activity, the sense of which consists in active
spiritualization of cosmos by the creation of
moral values, then we may understand the task
of sculpture as revelation of the truth from
the side of its plastic, spatial manifestation,
as the experience of creation and self-creation
of life penetrated with intellect.
In the plastic this experience
has its historic development in the form of
gradual spiritual enrichment of image and of
our idea of space and weight proportions.
The idea may seem paradoxical
if we remember the lofty predestination and
the irresistible fascination of the art of the
antiquity. However, if we compare the beauty
of the ancient Greek sculpture, not laden with
doubts, against the lucid readiness for self-sacrifice
in the images of Andrey Rublev, then, I should
think, the latter will prove closer to us.
Likewise, a more attentive
look at the forms of the spatial existence of
the plastic of the past cultures reveals to
us a picture of gradual departure from the exclusively
planar two-dimensional depiction in the direction
of a more active reclaiming of the physical
space by our ability to imagine. One can illustrate
this process with a certain degree of approximation
by the following graph: cave drawing – relief
– the round sculpture.
We must make a provision at
the very beginning – the enrichment of our idea
of space should be understood as appearance
of new forms of depiction. It would not be right
to consider the modern realistic drawing as
formally more highly artistic by comparison
to the cave drawings, nor to give preference
to the architectonics and the modeling of figure
in the modern sculpture before the sculpture
of the antiquity.
When a form of art is born,
it comes to fruition fast, and subsequently
inside it there may only be more or less fortunate
repetitions. We cannot rival the ancient people
in the forms that were born by their times.
The experience of the past schools forms a school,
a tradition, which allows an artist to repeat
the path of the art in his personal development,
necessary to provide for organic character of
his self-contained creative activity.
When speaking about the development
of our spatial conceptions, I mean in the first
place the development of the spatial compositional
thinking. Thus, it was not at once that relief
acquired its developed third dimension, and
the round sculpture remained for a long time
frontally oriented (the Archaic type). The rich
compositional thinking of the Greeks was two-dimensional
as a matter of principle. The Roman art and
the Gothic art, while developing the notion
of spiritual space, were formally closer to
the Archaic art than to the art of the antiquity
during the time of its efflorescence.
The Renaissance in the person
of Michelangelo made the next step along the
road of the enrichment of our spatial thinking.
Nevertheless, Delacroix already thought it possible
to describe Michelangelo as a painter rather
than a sculptor, because the majority of his
compositions are calculated for the frontal
The first protuberant attempt
of realizing a developed compositional action
in the three-dimensional space was made by Au.
Rodin in his composition «The Citizens of Calais».
However, the plastic unity of that sculptural
group has remained unrealized, nevertheless.
It was only in the art of the
early- and mid-20-th century that it became
possible to make a decisive step in the direction
of developing the three-dimensional compositional
thinking, albeit at the price of certain dehumanization
of art. Such experience must have been necessary.
The penetration of the problem
of time as the forth dimension into the compositional
thinking of the artist, who takes the process
of becoming as something wholesome, is taking
place before our very eyes. It is precisely
the nature of the space in which occurs the
compositional action, that determines the type
of the spatial compositional thinking of the
artist, as realized by him in any particular
piece of art. I think that one of the main tasks
of the present-day plastic consists in returning
the humanistic content to the composition holding
firm all the achievements of the spatial thinking
of the contemporary art.
Adequate artistic expression
of the image, of the idea in the contemporary
art, is impossible without mastering the spiritual
and plastic culture which has been accumulated
by humanity by the moment at which the particular
piece of art is being created. I feel the desire
to express in my compositions spatially the
themes and the plastic principles which we find
in the old Russian painting. I am stricken in
it by the combination of the depth of the image
and the absolute feeling of composition. It
seems to me that this combination is anything
but incidental. It finds its strongest expression
in the icon of the 14-th – 15-th centuries.
I consider the contemporary expression of the
classical theme precisely as the theme about
the modern times. Close to my heart also is
the plastic of the sculpture by A. Matveyev.
In its mood, It goes with its roots into the
art of the Old Rus.
The acquisition of humanity
by the contemporary sculptural composition,
on the Russian ground, implies, it seems to
me, an organic fusion of the plastic, close
in its spirit to the art of the early Matveyev,
with the experience of the spatial compositional
thinking of the latest times.