Articles
Annotation to personal
exposition of 1981
Of Completion and
Incompleteness
Short annotation to personal
exposition of 1992
Two spaces
On sacrifice
Ethics of beautiful
Contest design for Rekolle
International Workshop, 2005
  1. Avant-garde today
  2. Humanized space
Ability To Bring Light
Movement of the Diagonal
Artistic Credo
Articles by Other Authors
Fragments of article by O. Kostina
Fragments of article by S. Serova
Commentary to Model Monument to
Russian Philosopher V. S. Solovyov
Fragments of article by V. Perfilyev
Thinking about time. I. Svetlov
Spiritual Anxiety
Mystery of Art. S. Orlov
Master. V. Maloletkov
Academy of Arts Is Presenting
Ksenia Karpova
Mystery of Art. L. Yevdokimova
 
Eternal Path. 1980. Bronze, granite, height 80 cm
 
MYSTERY. 1997 1998. Granite, height 320 cm
Hunnebostrand, Sweden
 
Centauress. 1992. Paper, sepia, size 46x30 cm
 
Of Completion and Incompleteness
 

It has always been characteristic of the artist to ponder about the meaning of the relations into which he enters with other people by the medium of his works.

The purpose of creative work consists in raising the voice of art in order to open human hearts to oracular uttarances.

One of the important professional problems, understanding of which moves the artist closer to the performance of his social mission is the issue of completion and incompleteness of his work of art. The history of the problem goes back to the ancient thought that discerned in this problem two distinct aspects which provided the two channels for almost all subsequent speculation on the score.

According to Plato, the eternal idea alone can be genuinely perfect, while its embodiment always remains imperfect. Aristotle saw in a genuine work of art harmony of completed and perfected cosmos. They both of them arrived at the idea of art as a necessary phenomenon for realizing the ideals of a perfect human society as the only genuine work of art with Plato, and as an elitist phenomenon with Aristotle.
True, time has expanded the boundaries and the tasks of art, while having preserved its goal: achievement of personhood and making of society but now to the scope of their ethical and esthetical universality.

If we consider the notion of completion in its application to art, we may assume that this notion is applicable in full measure only to a perfect creative act which creates perfect, spirited, live life.

Genuine culture creates images of perfect life as its call and its anticipation. It is artists immediate gift to create perfect being only at the moment of his creative act, as a form of his own spiritual life; and it is his intermediate gift to create perfect being through the cultural product, his work of art which, in the process of affecting life, acquires completeness of existence in the creation of the perceiving subject. It becomes clear therefore that imperfection, incompleteness of a work of art without the act of its perception, is a basic property demanding completion of the image in the creative perception of the spectator. It is at this precise moment that the formative potentialities of art come to be realized.

A possible degree of completion is acquired by a work of art not as a thing in itself, but only as existing inside a kind of triunity in which one can conditionally identify the artists creative act, the materialization of that act in the piece, and the perception of the piece of art as a creative act. In certain arts these three levels of the being of art are realized at the same time. This must be one of the reasons of the powerful effect of music at the moment of its performance. An especial manifestation of this phenomenon is provided by the process of artists working when he is simultaneously both a creator and a spectator.

In the sculptural arts this triunity, implying a contact of consciences, may realize itself in temporal extension. It is as if the embodiment of the creative energy of multiple perception is accumulated by the piece of art, increasing its prophetic potentialities, its spiritual saturation. Let us visualize The Trinity by Rublev or imagine hearing a folk sing. Completion of image in perception may also be understood as process of expansion of spectators conscience, as inclusion into an esthetical phenomenon.
It seems to me that realization of a work as a piece of art at the moment of its creation, when the artist acts in two capacities simultaneously as a creator and as a spectator cannot be considered as sufficient, for this cuts off future potentialities and plans in the life of art.

In a certain sense, the existence of the work of art can be considered as the process of its completion.


From the professional point of view, the problem of completeness interests the artist in its more narrow sense, as seen in the plane of embodiment of concept in material. It is in essence a matter of creators artistic tactfulness rather than a problem of a particular state of the form, which is determined by the artistic presetting. But objectively it is possible to discuss a work of art as to the degree of its completion. If we proceed from existence of different creative presettings inside a culture, then it becomes clear that there cannot be any absolute state of completeness of form. This coheres with the idea of incompleteness as a sine qua non property of a piece of art.

The character of the work is constituted by the complex interaction between the image, behind which stands the artist, and the exercised understanding of the sculpturing properties of the material.

Being closely connected, these two aspects of the work of art always stay, however, in a state of contradiction, and a clear primacy of one of those results either in a profanation of the image, or in a naturalistic destruction of artistry. The properties of solid material, seen as its artistic possibilities, turn out to be exhausted at a certain moment during the sculpturing, and thus become an obstacle in the way of a perfect embodiment of the idea. On the other hand, the idea may use only some of the properties of the material, leaving other properties unutilized. An attempt to cross these boundaries imparts a negative effect to the content of the image. Complete correspondence between the idea and the material carries the work over unto the plane of applied art, as its ideal version.

It is obvious that both the material as such, and the image in the piece of art must remain in a state of certain incompleteness, which makes the creative work of the imagining spectator a necessary part of the artistic phenomenon. This creative work of spectator's imagination must, ideally speaking, supply the completion of the piece of art which is understood as not only an abstracted object.

At this level of the existence of the piece of art they are the potentialities of the spectators ethical and esthetical senses which become the measure of the pieces completeness. The full value of the life of art depends largely on the degree to which the spectators are prepared.

Thus the degree of completeness of a piece of art may be considered in three aspects, respectively: as completeness of the subjective creative act of the artist, with possible inclusion into the analysis of masters artistic presetting; as technical completion of the material embodiment of the concept and its changes connected with vicissitudes of subsequent fate of the piece; completeness of the image as it is manifested in the temporal existence of the piece of art through the power of its effect.

The problem of completion becomes particularly acute during historical periods in which non-canonical art is dominant.

The sense of incompleteness makes it possible to take the piece of art as part of something larger. Passing through various stages in the process of creation, the sense of incompleteness reaches its highest point with the artist: new horizons of the theme become opened to conscience, which transcend the structure of the piece already created. Here comes the completion of artists labor and the ethical justification thereof.

There can be no absolute completion in art.

Valery Yevdokimov, 1982.
Magic Mount journal, No.3, 1995, Moscow.