Mikadoyus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
Mikadoyus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911) is one of the most interesting masters of the early XX century.
An excellent composer, a classic of Lithuanian national music, he was also an amazing artist.
His work attracts increasing attention of the artistic community. The Museum of Ciurlionis in Kaunas, in which almost all the master’s works are concentrated, becomes a real pilgrimage site for hundreds of thousands of people: the display of works in other cities is difficult because of the fragile technique of their execution (pastel or tempera on paper).
Interest in Mikadoyus Konstantinas Ciurlionis explain. Chiurlionis is attractive not only for exciting emotionality, sincerity, passion. Not only the singularity of the painting, which puts before the attentive observer a lot of questions connected with the composition, plasticity, rhythm.
The art of Ciurlionis is like a romantic flight to the world of a pure and fair tale. Flight of fantasy into space, toward the sun, toward the stars …
In the whole world painting the works of this master occupy a special place. Musician and artist, Ciurlionis made an attempt to merge together the two arts: his best works are concerned with his “musical painting”. And if you cover the work of the artist as a whole, with a single glance, it will appear as a kind of pictorial symphony.
It can not be said that the creative legacy of Ciurlionis is understood, explored and explained to the end. The content and meaning of his paintings, as a rule, receive different, sometimes contradictory interpretations. Disputes that began even when the first works of the artist appeared at exhibitions, continue today. Genius, innovator – these words have become customary for fans of Ciurlionis, among them M. Gorky and R. Rolland, A. N. Benois and M. V. Dobuzhinsky, N. K. Roerich, A. P. Ostroumova-Lebedeva, A. N. Scriabin, I. F. Stravinsky, E. Mezhelaitis, A. Venclova, B. Dvarionas and many other remarkable artists, musicians, poets. But next to the praises, there is often a decisive misunderstanding, even a fundamental denial of his art.
Such polar views are, of course, connected with the unusual nature of the master’s creative heritage. But not only. Mikadoyus Konstantinas Ciurlionis does not belong to the number of painters, in the pictures
which “everything is said”, he is far from being accessible and simple, and “reading” of his plans presupposes a certain level of artistic culture. Ciurlionis does not reveal himself to the viewer at first sight. To understand the deep essence of his compositions, efforts are required: often complex designs of the pictures seem encrypted.
The atmosphere of idealistic and occult interpretations, created by pre-revolutionary artistic criticism, densely enveloped his work. It was difficult to break through. Continuing and developing such views, one can come to the most unexpected explanations of Ciurlionis. You can include him, for example, as a “literary-psychological symbolist”, 1 or, as some foreign researchers do, assert that his work is of a “purely abstract nature” or represents one of the early stages of formal searches in the painting of the beginning of this century. 2 Others go further and, seeing the direct impact of Ciurlionis on VV Kandinsky, declare the Lithuanian master of the forerunner of abstract art and the “pioneer of abstract art.” 3 In addition to such statements, since 1949-1950 they have been widely read in French, English, German and Polish literature on art, one can not fail to mention the point of view of one of the Italian scholars who assigns the work of Ciurlionis the role of “propaedeutics of Russian avant-gardism.” 4 The author of this book does not pretend to give exhaustive answers to the whole range of issues related to the problems of the art of Ciurlionis: the search for materials and documents relating to the life and craftsmanship of the master is far from complete, and the study of the most complex ways of developing art in the early 20th century, when Ciurlionis formed and created, is in the theoretical stage, it is hardly possible to draw definitive conclusions. The author sees his task only in acquainting the reader with the works and the main stages of the artist’s creative development. Having rejected the idealistic and mystical husks that have accumulated around his searches and biographies thanks to the efforts of numerous admirers and critics, the author of this book tries to find answers to the “riddle of Mikadoyus Konstantinas Ciurlionis” in his works. In the history of his life. In his letters and articles.
This task requires first of all a clarification of the ways of the creative evolution of the master, as well as the biography taken in its development. With respect to Ciurlionis it is difficult to do this. His letters remained few. Several articles, sketched in pencil on the pages of the drawing albums of the record, reminiscent of poetry in prose, – that’s all his literary heritage. (Excerpts from letters, articles and notes in the albums given in this edition are intended to help the reader to feel the very structure of his feelings, to “hear” the lyrical intonations peculiar to his soft voice, to more fully reveal the artist’s intentions, his creative laboratory.)
The diaries that Churlonis regularly led, apparently, disappeared. His paintings and drawings he did not sign – the more difficult it is to establish the time of their creation, and without this it is impossible to understand the sequence of tasks that he posed for himself. Meanwhile, in this case, the researcher requires special accuracy. 6th
The fact is that Ciurlionis-the artist worked only a few years (1903-1909). In this short period, he managed to go through a huge way of becoming – the way that others have been letting go of decades. The time of maturity of his work is limited to three years (1907-1909). The chronology and accuracy of the dating of the works acquires a greater importance here for the study: to understand the progressive development of the master, decades and years are no longer important, and sometimes months.
But if you do this, based on the artist’s letters, catalogs of exhibitions and, mainly, on the stylistic analysis, will not the path of Ciurlionis be more clear, consistent, even purposeful? And if you try to carefully analyze the artist’s works, if you look closely at what the artist himself did, listen to what the artist himself said, will his position in art appear in a new, sometimes unexpected light? Will not we come closer to deciphering his peculiar language and his creative intentions?
We will make a reservation, however: Chiurlionis is one of those artists whose complex creativity does not lend itself to an unambiguous, “only correct” interpretation and explanation.