Author: German M.Yu.
"I exist in your imagination, and your imagination is part of nature, which means that I also exist in nature."
A. Chekhov. Black monk
The rapidly increasing distance between genuine artistic values and actively replicated and - alas! - a widely demanded mass art in its most vulgar version is a process, of course, irreversible. "Why is it fruitless to argue with the century" (Pushkin). Any time is inclined to consider itself timeless, lamentations are meaningless and always have a smack of obese conservatism. It is not complaints that are important, but understanding, awareness of the process.
In the space of "surreal", fantastic art, to which the article is devoted, the leading role, of course, fell to cinematography, as a formative artistic phenomenon of the XX-XXI centuries, besides, it is cinema that is most capable of combining both mass character and high quality.
Suffice it to recall and compare the films of German Expressionism led by the immortal Cabinet of Dr. Caligari Robert Vine, paintings by Bunuel, Greenaway, Blow-up Antonioni, Tarkovsky's tapes with popular blockbusters "fantasy", including entire virtual mega-spaces (from films to comics) of "Star wars ". Fantasy, the mystery of the "second plan" becomes the lot of the few and is rapidly reduced.
With the artist Nikolai Danilevsky *, about whose art I wrote an article a year ago, we talked a lot about precisely that phenomenon that is commonly called "fantastic realism." The fine arts next to cinematography, due to their much more chamber role in the current world, remains a kind of laboratory, a closed, but active world, where a fantastic beginning (freed from opportunities and from the burden of box-office special effects) develops in the silence of workshops.
The longer our conversations lasted, the more it became obvious: the current terminology is so confused, vague and indefinite, its fundamental concepts are used so arbitrarily and even sloppily, that without a detailed analysis of the main meanings, definitions, prolegomena, no discussion is possible.
The result was the proposed text.
Explaining seemingly platitudes clear - which can be more difficult. "Fantastic realism" - behind this term there is a servile chain of sore associations. Here and Hoffman, and Gogol, and Dostoevsky, even Kafka, Bulgakov, Orwell, philosophical fiction, glamorous quasi-fantasy literature and beyond - up to computer games and other nonsense, not to mention the artists themselves. Bosch, Arcimboldo, Francisco Goya, the famous Viennese school of fantastic realism, Böcklin, Vrubel, Somov, Odilon Redon, surrealists - in all these names and tendencies there is something close to fantastic realism. Separating even obvious cereals from visible chaff is not easy. Moreover, few people think about the fact that even these two words, from which such a familiar definition is formed, are used approximately, and, most importantly, in completely different senses, sometimes opposite.
Without pretending to establish some general standards, it is necessary to determine the conventional, but definite meaning of these concepts in this context. It should be borne in mind the following:
The concept of "realism" as applied to the analysis of various types of artistic creation is blurred to the point of complete indistinction. Goethe said that exactly the pug depicted is another pug, and not a new work of art. Indeed: most often, “realism” is simply understood as a kind of “similarity to reality,” recognizability, comprehensibility and accessibility, which leads to a reduction of the term and makes it synonymous with accessibility in the most vulgar sense of the word. Here realism passes into the space of mass culture and is identified with it.
A somewhat more professional understanding of the term reduces it to a constant approach to a vaguely understood "truthfulness" and presents realism as almost the goal of evolution. In this case, the history of literature and other arts is defined as a continuous movement towards perfection (as was often stated in Soviet aesthetics), due to which a mediocre Biedermeier artist, a minor itinerant or socialist realist was represented as artists superior in some sense to Goyu or Valentin Serov.
Often the term "realism" was used in relation to those usually ideologized, artistic trends that opposed (or would like to oppose) any daring quest aimed at enriching expressive means (say, romanticism); then Courbet was preferable to Delacroix, and Korolenko to Dostoevsky.
Hence - a completely ridiculous understanding of realism, as a trend that has its own style and chronological framework, entering into polemics, and even into battles, with romanticism, impressionism, and even more so with abstraction. Moreover: the logical series (on the example of France of the XIX century) "romanticism - realism - impressionism" is considered. At the same time, it is overlooked that realism is not a period, but an immanent quality of any genuine art.And the equally ridiculous assumption that, say, Hoffmann is not a realist, Delacroix is unlikely, but the Biedermeier artists and, of course, the Wanderers are realists. What to do with Phidias, Rublev, Giotto and Dante remained unclear.
Realism was traditionally understood (and is still understood today) as an axiological, evaluative category, in other words, it became synonymous with high quality.
These traditional ideas completely confuse all ideas about the term "realism".
In this context, realism is considered as a method immanent (permanently inherent) to any real art, since every genuine artist - consciously or unconsciously - strives in his work to create an exact and, to the best of his strength, objective likeness not to the world, but to his own idea of it, which he perceives as the only true.
It is the idea of the world, not the world itself.
For both the Egyptian artist, who created a geometrized likeness of a person spread out on a plane, and the Hellene, the author of an exact, if not a copy, then a strikingly similar, poetic image, and a medieval master who sought to abandon everything bodily and aspired to "depicting the soul" and showed not so much the body, how many hieroglyphs of emotions, and even an abstractionist looking for a direct plastic analogue to the world of the subconscious in a non-objective image - they are all directed towards the same goal. To create an artistic and (according to your idea) a truthful analogue of your truth and only her.
And in history they oppose realism (in the suggested sense) not impressionism or romanticism, but two other, eternal, like it) tendencies: formalism and naturalism.
A wingless fascination with a flirtatious and entertaining form, experiment, as such, is just as contraindicated in art as a wretched copying of the visible in order to create the illusion of reality. Realism in the high and serious sense of the term, as between Scylla and Charybdis, develops in eternal opposition to these two wretched but seductive extremes. Extremes generally popular with the public. Even in these areas, large-scale manifestations always have even more simplified versions, presenting to the naive viewer their vulgar, publicly available versions.
Thus, already at first, it is possible to declare the true artistic quality as sine qua non of realism. Moreover, both formalism and naturalism, by definition, are outside the boundaries of genuine art.
One should not forget that (since the history of art is inseparable from the history of public taste) the perception of the fine arts changed far from synchronous with the development of art itself. At a time when, according to Pliny's story, the birds flew to peck the grapes in the picture of Zeuxis, and Zeusis himself took the veil written by Paarrasius for the fabric itself, the assessment of art was reduced only to the degree of illusion (for many, even now such a primitive principle of assessment remains relevant). "White marble" for posterity, Greek statues were painted in bright colors at one time, but time required conventions, the sculpture became monochrome and, in Diderot's words, turned into a muse "passionate, but silent and secretive (silencieuse et secrete)." Illusory painting has turned into a lovely salon genre "trick".
The ideas of positivism, in line with which both ordinary love of wisdom and popular opinions developed, made the theoretical concept of "realism" synonymous in the middle of the nineteenth century with the assertion of unvarnished truth in art. Naturally, at this time, the concept of truth moved away from both the sentimental-enlightenment and the sublimely heroic ideas of romanticism (the concept of “enlightenment realism” existed in official aesthetics). Romance - even as a system of forms - was far from rigid and concrete social issues (in this sense, even Delacroix's Freedom was perceived as a deviation from social truth).
However, the direct portrayal of the fantastic (fabulous, mythological) is in complete opposition to “fantastic realism. An example of this is the work of Gustave Dore: absolutely authentic dragons, giants, ghosts, monsters, etc. are conveyed with naive and stately authenticity. The imagination of a child enchanted by a terrible fairy tale, realized with artistry and scope, but without much taste, and most importantly, without any plastic subtext, everything has been said, there is no place for imagination.
If the great Western painting retained devotion to the ideals of the artistic form, thereby spiritualizing the "substance of art" and seeing the priorities in it, the Russian pictorial tradition brought the idea to the fore.
At the turn of the century (the German "Jahrhundertwende" seems to be much more capacious than the usual "turn of the century", or "Fin fin de siecle"), art changed rapidly. However, for most readers and viewers, for the liberal Russian intelligentsia, the messianic role of art remained a priority. Changes in the artistic language did not yet occupy general attention: no matter how innovator in the field of artistic form, for example, Dostoevsky was, his books were perceived, first of all, as moral phenomena.
In the West, bold social ideas were also most often realized in a new artistic form (Goya, Delacroix, Courbet). In Russia, as a rule, it is more than traditional. The feat of the Wanderers was already partly perceived as self-destructive: preaching is verbal and in the visual arts turns into inarticulate rigorism. And if the fantastic in the highest achievements of Russian literature (Gogol, Dostoevsky), precisely because of the priority of the word, was still perceived as a natural part of the real, then something else reigned in the visual arts.
... Russian writers, in fact, have almost nothing to do with the visual arts. The life of a Russian person goes entirely under the sign of a bowed brow, under the sign of deep reflections, after which any beauty becomes unnecessary, any brilliance becomes false. He raises his gaze only to hold it on a human face, but in it he does not seek harmony or beauty. He seeks to find in him his own thoughts, his own suffering, his own destiny and those deaf paths along which long sleepless nights have passed, leaving these traces. . It was this special gift of vision that brought up great writers: without him there would be no Gogol, no Dostoevsky, no Tolstoy. But he cannot create great artists. The Russian person lacks dispassion to look at a face from a picturesque point of view, that is, calmly and disinterestedly as an object, without taking human participation in it; from contemplation, he imperceptibly passes to compassion, love or a willingness to help, that is, from figurative content to plot. It is no coincidence that Russian artists have been writing “plots” for a long time 1. So Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about Russian culture, which he knew and loved.
It was this “plot” that later became the main object of not only protest, but also cruel and sometimes excessive condemnation from the young “people of the world”.
“To get away from the backwardness of Russian artistic life, get rid of our provincialism and get closer to the cultural West, to the purely artistic quests (my italics, MG) of foreign schools, away from literaryism, from the tendentiousness of the Itinerants, away from the helpless amateurism of quasi-innovators, away from our decadent academicism ”2 (Alexandre Benois).
Freedom of imagination (we are not talking about fairy-tale plots in the spirit of Vasnetsov or Repinsky Sadko) only partially began to be seen in Vrubel's, but the tragic events of the revolution and the subsequent changes in the social life of Russia stopped the tradition for a long time, which can very conditionally be called Russian fantastic realism.
However, to some extent the search for the fantastic was also synthesized with the magical meaning of abstract form.
So is Malevich's Black Square in its silent, formidable, strangely gloomy significance.
It is inscribed in a white shimmering field so that there is an unprecedented feeling of not airy, not empty cosmic, not "abstract", in the decorative sense of the word, space, but space in general - a kind of thick "spatial substance". A space devoid of beginnings and ends, length and scale, in relation to which the black rectangle is perceived as a kind of "zero-space", "anti-space", "black hole", "superheavy star" - from those categories of the highest standard of poetic scientific fiction, which will appear in another half a century. None of its angles are equal to 90 degrees, it remains in eternal becoming, as if alive. The square and the background seem to float in the same plane, in a visually felt weightlessness (Malevich invented the term "plastic weightlessness", guessing the possibilities of antigravity), not protruding forward and not retreating inward, creating a powerful sensation of a reified representation of the primary elements, of a kind of foundations " the periodic table "of forms, or, using Khlebnikov's expression, about" building the alphabet of concepts. " Fiction, isn't it fiction? The epigraph contains the answer to this question. "I exist in your imagination, and your imagination is a part of nature, which means that I also exist in nature."
It is worth carefully and with caution to consider the phenomena that are often perceived by viewers precisely as excessively similar and, therefore, capable of appearing naturalistic.
It is easy to take naturalism and works created in the mainstream of the trend called hyperrealism - from the French hyperrealisme (other names: "photorealism", "superrealism", "cold realism", "sharply focused realism") for pure water. This is a broad movement in Western, primarily American art, which has made itself known since the mid-1960s and has become an active opposition to abstractionism. The world, seen and objectified as if through impassive photo-optics (often with its help), is meticulously reproduced in a work of art, so photo information is transformed into pictorial information. Hyperrealistic paintings and sculptures assert impersonal accuracy, offering the viewer a unique man-made image based on a mechanical reproductive basis, asserting the triumph of visible reality over artistic will, creative subjectivity. The similarity with reality becomes both aggressive and poetic - the hyperrealist artist offers the viewer an image that does not require co-creation - even more detailed than the material world itself. This monuments everyday life, creates a kind of aesthetics of the world of consumption, reproduces the human environment, where the person himself with his emotions and thoughts is practically absent.
But - oddly enough - in this super-similar, super-material principle of reproducing the objective world there is a deeply hidden fantasy, a dull subtext of anxiety.
Photorealism with its (in the words of one of the critics) "embalmed gloss" of objects is to some extent associated in - the American mind - with the beloved American masters of the period of "romantic objectivity", for example, the famous Edward Hopper.
Painting Early Sunday Morning (1930, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) Hopper is fraught with a strange attractive force, a piercing sense of American singularity, American urbanism, very far from the conventional images of skyscrapers or the Brooklyn Bridge. The effect of a cinematic freeze frame (the composition of many of the artist's paintings, it seems, goes back to the aesthetics of cinema in Hopper's work lasts as long as the viewer wants, and the artist knows how to enchant the viewer. (i.e., the effect of defamiliarisation, a new discovery of a familiar place), when the habitual habitable environment is seen as mysterious and unknown. Hopper achieves this sensation, remaining in the space of hyperrealistic protocol accuracy. an image of an ordinary brick house, in which, behind closed windows for tired and boring residents, the night still lasts, a breath of early bright sunny freshness bursts in, which the viewer spied on together with the artist. , as the possibility of a different look, perhaps this is the secret.
Effects of this kind are also realized by the anthropomorphism of precisely traced, but still living architecture, the ability to convey the loneliness of a house in an empty field (House by the Railroad, 1925, MoMA, New York). It is curious that this picture became for Hitchhock a source of scenery for the famous film Psychosis (1960). Therefore, the unexpected - albeit hyper-precise - image of something seen as if for the first time is also a move in the formation of fantastic realism.
By the way, returning to Hitchhock in particular and to cinema in general, we can add that the intentness of the gaze and the poeticization of real detail in cinema may well become (and is becoming!) A poetic and completely metaphorical (therefore, with a tinge of "fantasticness") part of the artistic whole ... The accentuated material detail in the same Hitchhock (very far from the high "art house") to the famous still lifes of Luchino Visconti, Greenaway, Tarkovsky, precisely by its objectivity, objectivity, immobility, becomes both an effective counterpoint, and, at the same time, a silent accompaniment to live actors and a dynamic camera. accompaniment, sometimes more eloquent than the plot itself and the performance of the artists ..
Another American classic, Andrew Wyeth, has a similar secret power in the "almost cinematic or photographic" portrayal of a mundane scene, beginning with his acclaimed masterpiece Christina's World (1948, MoMA, New York). Even the viewer unfamiliar with the plot (an almost paralyzed woman is depicted), guesses in the picture a kind of tragic catharsis. It is fashionable here to recall Franz Roch's term "magic realism".
A simple, even ordinary perception of the unthinkable, as well as a paradoxical perception of the ordinary, is one of the foundations of this kind of vision. Here is a phrase from Hoffmann's story The Golden Pot: "he turned and left, and then everyone realized that the important man was, in fact, a gray parrot (eigentlich ein grauer Papagei war)." Nobody was scared, everyone just laughed - a common misunderstanding in the world of Hoffmaniade.
In the structure of fantastic realism, a frequent and important component is as if the presence of two registers of perception: ordinary ("important man") and incredible (it is not known why he is already a parrot), synthesized into a unity of unsolved mysteries - intellectual or emotional. At the same time, unlike a fairy tale or legend, fantastic realism persistently seeks to ground the irrational and affirm the dialectical unity of the imaginary and the material. In the story of the same Hoffmann, the Elemental Spirit, the lord of otherworldly forces, appears in the form of an army major and summons a ghost, reading a text from French grammar: “it should be indifferent what means I use <...> to manifest in a tactile form my connection with the world of spirits ". The ordinariness, vulgarity of the situation emphasizes the scale of the otherworldly horror.
The cult of unsaid (this is very important) otherworldly anxiety reigned in the so-called metaphysical painting ("Scuola Metafisica"). Longing for infinity called his 1911 painting by the Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico.
“What I listen to is worth nothing, there is only what I see with my eyes open, but even better - with my eyes closed” 3, wrote Giorgio De Chirico. Direct link to the title (and meaning) of Kubrick's latest film Eyes Wide Shut ...
For Chirico, the most valuable qualities of the picture were contact with sleep or childhood dreams. A strange combination of mystical ideas, anxieties, striving for values, primarily of inner life, constant associations with antiquity (in the Roman, "Caesarian" sense of it), but dead, motionless - such a world becomes the habitat of its characters.
His picturesque dreams are strikingly authentic. To a certain extent, Chiriko does the same as Kandinsky and Klee, but clothe his unconscious in an objective form.
However, his subjects do not turn the vague spheres of spiritual secrets inside out, do not overwhelm the viewer with disgusting materialized details of hidden or suppressed representations, which will be typical for surrealists, for many works of Ernst and especially Dali with his "fictionalized" and detailed nightmares.
In the numb, empty world of De Chirico's paintings, it is not passions, pain, life or death that reign, but only their distant, fading “visual echo”. Landscapes after spiritual battles, fossilized scars, tragedies that have turned into marble monuments to themselves. At times, in such a painful dream, as if from the outside, a person sees himself in a dangerous, alien space. In a dream, he often feels himself small, lost in a huge world of displaced proportions and spaces. De Chirico's paintings are constantly dominated by this effect of painful unrecognition - "jamais vu" (familiar, seemingly seen for the first time) - a quality, as has been noted more than once, immanent to any understanding of fantastic realism.
Chiriko's paintings are indeed a dream space, where there are no distances, where objects are removed or brought closer only thanks to some promising hints, where what seems to be more significant suddenly turns from distant into close, like in a movie with the help of a modern zoom. A slow kaleidoscope of visions, from which it is impossible to awaken, dominate objects and people. Objects connected by the will of the artist on canvas remain in non-intersecting spatial worlds. They are from different dreams.
A life-like depicted non-existent (if it does not remain within the framework of a fairy tale, myth, and does not pretend to materialize unsteady images of the subconscious) in a simplified version turns into a large-scale falsification.
So it is a great temptation for a practicing artist to associate the meaning of “fantastic realism” with surrealism, which is directly directed towards the world of subconscious fantasies. Tristan Tzara, one of the most talented theorists of Dadaism and Surrealism, argued that art should sink its roots “to the depths of the unconscious”. Unfortunately, the superficial “salon” concept of the “unconscious” turned out to be extremely popular: the French are right in asserting that “the half-learned is doubly fool (demi-instruit double sot)”. Overconfident ignorance leads to aggressive ignorance.
Unfortunately, the average consciousness is captivated primarily by the speculative and bad-tasting (albeit very effective) creativity of Dali, perceived as a kind of absolute that is no longer subject to criticism, artistic analysis, as a phenomenon that has gone beyond the context of art itself. The most understandable and entertaining of the surrealists, who lowered the images of the subconscious to the level of modern computer cinema effects, he was doomed to success and became the first large-scale representative of the modernist kitsch, a massive version of an essentially intellectual artistic movement.
Unlike many of his famous contemporaries, Dali was and remains not only a poor painter, but also a mediocre draftsman. The sluggishness of the drawing and the simplified palette introduced into his paintings that approximation, the absence of professional magic, which is usually characteristic of artistic demagogues who have lowered art to the level of "consumer culture". This is confirmed by the mass cult of Dali, which still exists among circles far from true interest in art. Dali's works remain a simple master key to the most difficult world of surrealism, and modernism, thanks to which even the inertial and lazy-thinking viewer feels the triumph of his own intellect. The artist strove to touch everything - religion, politics, sex, finding straightforward and at the same time spicy answers, masterly invented and executed with rare plastic monotony. The petty naturalness of the unthinkable deprives Dali's images (with rare and serious exceptions) of true tragedy.
And if Ernst, Mason, Georgia O'Keeffe, Miro and many others really created their imaginary worlds, really based on the images of the unconscious or convincingly likened to them, that is, in other words, they depicted an artistic picture of spiritual secrets, then Dali claimed his a kind of naturalistic protocol of overtly modeled visions, creating falsified but seemingly authentic quasi-documentary images.
Rene Magritte is much more important for the modern realization of the worldview of fantastic realism. The artist did not strive to caress the eye of the viewer (which Dali claimed very persistently, striving, no matter how repulsive his characters would be, for a banally understood, but nevertheless attractiveness, for the effect of “fake”, surreal Trompe-l'oeil). Magritte limited himself to simply visual information about what produced his inventive imagination. And these partially primitized, albeit executed with the skill of the protocol, images, indeed, are rooted "to the depths of the unconscious" (Tzara).
In the texture, color, linear constructions of Magritte there is absolutely no desire to please the taste of the layman, his terrible is devoid of sweet attractiveness, it is not based on naturalistic details, but, most of all, on a detached and always meaningful, meaningful comparison of objects and phenomena, sometimes inscriptions.
Believing that painting is only a means of communicating ideas, he practically ceases to be interested in the “substance of art”. Magritte had a special gift: in his comparisons of ordinary things, that sublime horror arose, which is characteristic precisely of visions, delirium, and heavy sleep. The daily routine of things in Magritte's anxious touches inspires an indistinct and formidable anxiety.
The metaphor of undeciphered fear, not images of the subconscious, but those pictures that the unconscious sends us not yet deciphered - this is the area where Magritte is unmatched.
One of Magritte's secrets is the ability with frightening simplicity, without encryption and plastic hints, to place the viewer in front of a clearly fixed "frame", as if thrown by the subconscious into the visible objective world. Thus, the watercolor In praise of dialectics (Eloge de la dialectique) (1936, private collection) becomes an emotional and frightening metaphor for the famous Hegelian judgment that the inside, devoid of the outside, cannot be signified by the inside: it depicts a house seen through the window of a house, inside it, and not outside - the typological situation of a nightmare, objectively and dispassionately stated.
Magritte anticipated a lot, creating a kind of guide to the labyrinths of postmodern art. His inscriptions on paintings, asserting, say, that the depicted pipe is not a pipe (since this is only an image of it or simply because an intellectual and absurdist game is being played with the viewer), is a direct path to conceptual constructions. Combining fragments of classical paintings with his own painting, turning face into body, cold and rational eroticism, undoubted cinematography, closeness to science fiction of the highest standard. And, of course, a detached look from the outside at oneself and one's work, repeated cold reflection, where the “frames” of the looking glass are reflected in ordinary and unusual mirrors so many times that they again begin to seem like reality. And when Magritte painted his painting Attempt of the Impossible (La tentative de l'impossible) (1928, private collection), depicting an artist writing a model, he created an unprecedented and together exact equivalent of a subconscious creative act: under the artist's brush, it appeared in the space of a room, and not on the canvas is a real living body, and everything around remained, probably, only a painted plane.
In our context, one of the most amazing paintings by Magritte The Key to the Fields (1936, Thyssen-Barnemisse collection), where fallen fragments of broken window glass retains a landscape visible through them, a picture that contains many meanings and, of course , opening up new perspectives of not yet filmed cinema and even computer effects.
We add that a lot of terminological and essential confusion arises in cases where an artist or some association of artists, in the process of hasty self-identification, find a name for themselves. This is exactly what happened with the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism (Wiener Schule des Phantastischen Realismus) at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Composed of artists, mostly focused on surreal roots. Interesting masters in their own way - Albert Paris Gutersloh (Albert Konrad Kitreiber), Ernst Fuchs, Arik Brower, Anton Lemden, Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter, etc., they were more or less influenced by Max Ernst, and, of course, more in all, they were focused on external hypertrophied frightening effects, combined with the use of decorative effects, partly overlapping with the style of the secession. The movement was notable for its frank eclecticism, although in the painting of Gutersloh (the theorist of the group) there is an undoubted temperament and pictorial dramatic energy that anticipates the discoveries of German expressionism. One way or another, the declared name belongs only to history, but it is very far from the real problems of “fantastic realism”.
Naturally, Soviet aesthetics practically excluded the fantastic beginning from the context of realistic art, just as it is natural that since the end of the 1980s it began to return from the underground world to exhibition venues and gained a certain success (especially in the world of gallery art).
The city itself contributes a lot to this. St. Petersburg is one of the youngest famous cities in the world, which managed to visit both the imperial capital and the regional center, a city that changed faces and masks, a city that changed its name three times (or, more precisely, four times!), And probably its fate. “If Petersburg is not the capital, then there is no Petersburg. It only seems that he exists ”(Andrey Bely).
A shaky mixture of the imaginary and the real - a phantom of Pushkin's "proud idol". And Pushkin's odic lines, beginning with the words "I love," are almost refuted by the "heavy-voiced" galloping of an idol pursuing an unfortunate madman. And this is also Pushkin (1828):
Lush city, poor city,
Spirit of bondage, slender look,
The vault of heaven is pale green,
Boredom, cold and granite.
So many gloomy judgments have not been expressed about any city, although for all it remains a "beauty and a marvel" of "full countries".
"Everything is deception, everything is a dream, everything is not what it seems!" “The most intentional city in the whole world” (Dostoevsky); "And my city is iron-gray" (Blok). Even Chekhov, who was not a Petersburg writer at all, saw in the inhabitants of Petersburg “a special breed of people who are specially engaged in making fun of every phenomenon of life; they cannot even pass by a hungry person or a suicide without saying something vulgar ”(The Story of an Unknown Person).
The city itself is a continuous quote, sometimes it seems that it arose not by the will of Peter, but by the movements of goose feathers, would it have been without the nightmares of Herman or Galyadkin, without the torment of Raskolnikov, without the Retribution of Blok! And without the lofty and merciless dreams of the doomed Decembrists, without political assassinations, without the "three revolutions" that we were taught to be so proud of. Is everything a deception, is everything a dream?
On the icy St. Petersburg stage, open to the winds of European culture, passions were painfully illuminated, seen through the “magic crystal” of the city and by those who wrote about it.
And the "cinema sphere" gradually poeticized and adorned the city: it spread out in fields of polished asphalt under the wheels of "Emka" - the taxi driver Petya Govorkov - the future great singer (Sergei Lemeshev) and the arrogant and stupid ZIS Tarakanov (Erast Garin) in the Musical story, surrounding the funny American utopia with the light of cast-iron lanterns and the patrician facades of St. Petersburg palaces; the city also became the scenery for romantic fantasies of revolutionary fairy tales, its factories, ennobled by the skill of excellent cameramen, turned into the scenery of famous films about Maxim, "legends were created in the world of prose", in Verharne's words, and Leningrad turned into a magical legend about itself. What a "dubious fantastic light here, like we have, in St. Petersburg" (Dostoevsky).
But, unfortunately, it is the salon, entertaining version of “fantastic realism” that attracts the audience, striving to join the elementary, inviting, which only pretends to be deep and complex.
As Nikolai Danilevsky said, my thoughtful interlocutor is either a like-minded person, or even an opponent: “A distinctive feature of Petersburg fantastic realism, from similar trends in the absence of catharsis. This is a "fairy tale with an unhappy ending." Here I completely agree with him. Moreover, it is he who consistently tries in his artistic practice to grope, if not a happy ending, then a genuine artistic quality, without which any experiment is doomed. Rejecting traditional figurativeness, the artist seeks and finds a purely plastic equivalent to his vision, where fantasy becomes the very truth.
There are probably other ways. In the meantime, we have taken the first steps towards understanding the root system of Fantastic Realism. Shoots - in the process of implementation. Quite a few artists simply call themselves “fantastic realists”. Everyone has the right, everyone proves it in their own way.
It must be assumed that Fantastic Realism is a concept that primarily includes the desire for a meaningful, stylistically unified formal system (similarity to nature, traditional objectivity may or may not be), but sine qua non is the integrity, suggestiveness and individuality of the artistic substance. realizing the artist's ideas about phenomena outside of sensory experience.
The only way to survive in a world you have to fight is to know more about it.
* Nikolai Sergeevich Danilevsky - the founder of the "Petersburg School of Fantastic Realism".
1 Rilke RM. Moderne russische Kunst-bestrebungen. Samtliche Werke in zwolf Banden. Frankfurt a. M., 1976, Bd 10.S. 613-614
2 Benois A. The emergence of the "World of Art", L., 1928, p. 21
3 Cit. Quo: 100 oeuvres nouvelles 1974-1976. Musee national d'art moderne. P., 1977. P. 24
about the author
Mikhail Yurievich German - Soviet and Russian writer, art historian, doctor of art history, professor, member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), member of the International PEN Club and the Union of Russian Writers, member of the Union of Journalists of St. Petersburg and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Leading researcher at the State Russian Museum
Special thanks for the materials provided to Nikolai Danilevsky
The material was first published:
Herman M. Yu. Fantastic Realism: Myth, Reality, Present Day (Answers to Unasked Questions). - SPb., Pushkin Museum: almanac. Issue 8, All-Russian Museum of A.S. Pushkin, 2017 .-- 432 p., With ill. - ISBN 978-5-4380-0022-8.)