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
 
Birth. 1979, bronze, granite, height 60 cm.
Far East Art Museum. Khabarovsk
 
Bust of D. Galkovsky. 1985
Bronze, granite, natural size, 1

Commentary to Model Monument to
Russian Philosopher V. S. Solovyov,
Performed by Sculptor V. A. Yevdokimov

 

There have remained many photographs of the remarkable Russian philosopher V. S. Solovyov (1853-1900). Owing to those photographs, we know what he looked like as a young man, as a mature artist, and on his deathbed... Here he is posing for the photographer, and in another picture he is sitting at a small round table, a glass of wine or champagne in his left hand, and a rolled-up newspaper or proofs of an article written by him in his right hand... He has been memorized in his family circle, in a friendly company, and on the doorsteps at his acquaintances country house next to a life-size rooster made of china... And now he is lying, with a short hair-cut, on his deathbed... There have been left also pencil sketches by a number of draftsmen, and well-known artists made several painted portraits. But there have not been made until now any sculptured image of Solovyov, although sculptor V. A. Yevdokimov has prepared a model monument.

How can one render in sculpture the soul, the spirit, and the body of a greatest Russian thinker whose creative work has erected to him in the Russian philosophical science a monument wrought not by human hand? How is it possible to express it in stone or in metal, to make an imprint of an out-of-the-ordinary intellect that was presenting itself in so contradictory a manner before other peoples eyes contained in the philosophers live body that was infinitely more plastic than stone or metal? Which episode in the short temporal creative evolution should be preferred to all others. What should be the means of expression in order to explain best of all the phenomenon of Solovyov who has continued to influence considerably Russian culture until now? Should he be depicted attentively reading works by outstanding philosophers and theologians? But this classical writer who amazed his contemporaries with his erudition, amazes us even more with the amount of his own works. Should he be sitting at his desk? But he was not a study thinker! He did not like to sit at his desk, he wrote fast, and he sketched the plans for all his works quite in a casual manner, although he was not attached to any particular occupation in life, being a kind of an itinerant life-watcher. Soloyov was a traveler in his life-style. Should he be shown as a pilgrim, walking now in the suburbs of Cairo, now making his way to literary gatherings or to slum districts in St. Petersburg? All these and many other instances of spiritual manifestations, and of bodily reactions, are important for understanding the creative work of Solovyov, all episodes of his life showing him to us as an outstanding personality, and, due to the equality of their significance, they call unquestionably for aesthetic partisan presence in the process of artistic creation in an emulation of hagiographical marginal scenes relating simultaneously deeds of different times, performed by the person who pursued the acquisition of the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless, those may and should be rejected, although they supply the most convenient points of support for plastic arts.

In his model monument to the Russian philosopher sculptor Yevdokimov decided to abstract himself within the confines to be described by me further in the text from the body of the thinker and from the associated material, earthy world, to forgo the dynamics of body as much as this is possible in order to remain within the limits of plasticity demanding full value of dimensional expression of a spaceless idea, demanding a three-dimensional space as a means of creating at the moment of contemplation an illusion of atemporal in our everyday life (an illusion requisite for human mind), owing to which metaphysical sought through esthetical means provides a vivid picture of the static of physical and fills with spirit inert flesh (non-living matter) an artistic symbol of a once living physical person symbolizing an entire epoch in the evolution of spirit, a personality that has moved us closer to solution of most complicated metaphysical problems.

Forgoing corporality, body, physiology, physics means reducing a human body to bust, and sometimes in certain contexts to head. Head as object of esthetic manipulations does certainly possess the ability to represent to us the entire human person. Emphasizing its expressiveness and self-sufficiency for resolving any esthetic tasks, one can say that it represents the one essential minimum of corporality concentrating in it the maximum of spirituality.

Any other fragment of human body, a vitally important and esthetically meaningful minimum of body, receives maximum spirituality, an importance of an idea, an ideological load -- only in the context of a certain symbol which is extraneous to body and which, while rendering to it a metaphysiological content and disclosing its idea and essence, does not define completely its ontological significance. Yevdokimov has selected the cross as the tale-telling context of Soloyovs writings, which symbol not only sets out the general cultural context, but reflects also a certain aspect in the writings of this Russian thinker who develops the philosophy of universal oneness. At the same time, the choice of the cross as the horizonless field of meanings imposes, this is true, substantial limitations in sculpturing. It seems to me that juxtaposition of body to cross dictates unequivocally elimination of the arms of the depicted person even if that person is seeking Christ. For in this case they have no place to be in due to the sacral nature of the symbol owing its appearance to Saviors suffering at the cross, they have no place to be in in order not to replicate the too well known posture of the suffering, in order not to profane it....To cross them on the chest against the background of the cross? To stand leaning on the cross-piece? The cross in the arts is a kind of a Procrustean bed which dismembers the body and cuts off anything physical for the sake of metaphysical. It should be noted however that when this sort of context is chosen, much is lost in the order of concrete, in expressiveness, because arms, and hands particularly, are considered as human persons second face.

Now a few words about the cross in the composition of our monument. What catches the eyes is the shortness of both the cross-piece and the upright piece. The effect produced is concentration of all vital forces at the center, the spectators attention being riveted to the point in which the planes intersect each other, to the meeting point of two spiritual evolutions, to the place where the thinkers body is fastened, a body reduced, esthetically paradoxical, in accentuation of the living mans caricature-like appearance (extreme leanness and clumsiness). The second, and the most substantive, distinctive characteristic of Yevdokimovs cross consists in the considerable interruption of the upright piece and its jointing by a massive rectangular monolith, which may be interpreted as fortification by philosophical teaching of previously broken faith, as philosophers own understanding of Christianity, as the corpora of his writings, whereas the cross-shaped base, the three-tier foundation of the cross is seen by me as three stages of historical Christianity, three main types of its understanding in the history of humankind Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism. It may also be added with respect to the last feature that the interruption of the upright piece of the cross may be understood also as divergence between the historic Christianity and the teaching of Christ as such, to which Solovyov was tending (this is where the bust of Solovyov is) as he was trying to overcome the doctrinal limitation of any one religious confession.

Now let us concentrate our attention at the bust, at the spirited face with his bushy hair aflare and his forking beard. The body of the original thinker, a typical representative of people who are not of this world, seems to be substituted for with the cross, it is melted into the cross which in itself, in the exposition of Yevdokimov, represents a symbol of spirited creative work. In fact, Solovyov not so much lived in the conventional sense of the word, as he was engaged in creative writing. As to his face, it has something in it of Don Quixote, of St. John the Precurser. In Solovyov, as well as in the lyrical images of his characters, there was much of the literary character of Cervantes, there was much of don-quixotic quality such as his plea to pardon the terrorists who killed the tsar, his habitual giving to the poor, as his possible contribution to redistribution of wealth, etc. On the other hand, we was, of course, at the same time a precurser of a new set of minds, a herald of a new religion (adoration of Sophia), of a new philosophy (the philosophy of Universal Unity), of a new science (in the system of Consolidated Knowledge). Such face reflects on the whole the personal dualism of Solovyov, who was a romantic and a reformer, a fancier and a diviner, a philosopher and a poet, a spiritist and a publicist, an eternal bachelor who praised eternal femininity.

Those are the thoughts that were provoked in me as historian as I looked at the model monument to V. S. Solovyov, performed by sculptor V. A. Yevdokimov. I hope that after the collection of the needed amount of money (a considerable amount!), the monument made after the model of this particular sculptor, who has rendered so aptly the spirit and the soul of one of the greatest Russian thinkers, shall be erected in the courtyard of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Vasily Vanchugov
Magic Mount journal, No.3, 1995, Moscow.