Artist Vladimir Yankilevsky before his death: “the Store for me are the crematorium»

For an artist the worst thing is not death, but forgetfulness of his works. Vladimir Yankilevsky is gone, but his things remained. Now they are increasingly beginning to exhibit in Moscow. On 15 February Vladimir Borisovich would have turned 80. Anniversary — a reason to remember the master. But he is not forgotten. The best lesson on this day — watch his work, read his texts.

Vladimir Yankilevsky on the background of the triptych No. 4. Being in the Universe, 1964. Moscow, 1965. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

Yankilevsky was the artist whose paintings have defeated Khrushchev at the exhibition at the Manezh in 1962. Scandal and surging behind him consequences (15 years without legal exhibitions, poverty) did not break the wizard.

Over time his monumental philosophical triptychs waited for glory. Most of them rigorous form and content, not about trying to please or to be understood. Knock down power and self-sufficiency, unpredictable connection of painting with sculpture, drawings with collage…

The artist freely navigating between abstraction and figurativeness, without making a step back. Each new stage was the evolution. With obvious thematic and stylistic changes he remained true to his characters, felt in his youth. One of them is the door. As correctly observed by colleagues, often the installation begins with the door. Comes from Yankylevsky to Pavlensky is one step.

Vladimir Miller stands out among compatriots. His status as a master and a living classic — international (works are kept in prestigious museums and private collections). The process of painting became for him the construction of a new world literary space, which, as a rule, is not restricted by the frame. About this painting Malevich wrote: she continues the movement of life; growing forest, mountain, stone, and the artist reveals the body painting her body.

Vladimir Yankilevsky, Rimma. London, 2010. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

Art Yankylevsky — the nail on the head, but disclosed it immediately. Misunderstanding often creates alienation. And what else could be the attitude of the works that the commander in chief publicly called “daubs”? The artist with his wife and Muse Rimma Solod had to go to new York, then to Paris. They immediately understood that his work does not need the keys and passwords; any of these abstractions is the image of human experience, and above them don’t need to wrestle, they just need to feel. This is also touched upon in the conversation…

Today is my last session of radiotherapy of 35 represent? – smiling begins Vladimir Borisovich. – The hospital said in a few months all goes. So from tomorrow will start to recover.

– Necessarily! Must find time to prepare the anniversary exhibition at the Moscow Museum of modern art (MMOMA) and the national centre for contemporary arts (NCCA). Many of your works live in a Museum and private vaults for years. How do you feel about that?

– Terribly! The store for me are the crematorium. But not surprised, when I know that my stuff is not on display. They do not fit into the mainstream. Often in museums of modern art we can see the photos on the clothesline, piles of stones or sand with inscriptions, huge paintings painted with one stripe. These things emit a carrion, they do not come. Magritte, Picasso pulsate, but once you’re inside the halls of the last decades (hall contemprary art), you rolls necrotic void — no contact, oppressive feeling. This is the present decadence of the salon, often called avant-garde.

Dialogue, 1961. Oil on cardboard, 150 × 210 cm the State Tretyakov gallery, Moscow. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– What works for you live?

– Who actively influence the viewer. He seems to be present with this thing in the same space. When the landscape is drawn traditionally, you look at him, especially if he is in the frame, as something happening somewhere sometime to someone. The actual painting is now in front of the audience. He becomes her accomplice, is in the same space as a living thing. So I’m doing the big work.

– You in the beginning not afraid of the large size?

– Night — not when there is nothing stopping focus. The most important thing is to determine the tone and theme. This should be done in the highest state of tension. If this fails, the rest of the work will not require the maximum return. In such moments I become an improviser recorded maximum dramatic conflict and, to some extent, contemplate by the same created life.

Is ideal for you in art?

– Yes, in this case, the thing screams in silence. This is the most important criterion distinguishing real art from another. Not to be confused with imitation of the scream. Art requires silence — in-itself, around — for penetrating, understanding and… More silence is the criterion of completion of work on the thing. The painting is finished when it is given to rest of all conflicts. Then it might be an image of infinity. The achieved harmony is silent. Her silence sucks, as well as the starry sky or the distance. This picture suggests and the silence of the beholder.

– That is real art, in your opinion, needs no comments?

– Yes, I will answer by the example of their things in them, nothing visible happens. That comment, if everything is visible? So I have enough critics and admirers. Few people know how to be silent and just feel the art.

Vladimir Yankilevsky. In the background a triptych No. 20 Adam and eve. IV, 2005 and the Door. IV. At (Melancholy), 2005. Moscow, 2005. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– The only reason why not taken your stuff?

– They are difficult to understand. But it is not a criterion for their admission to the show. Any artist should have the right to show what he’s doing and has the right to open criticism. I’m not qualified I’m afraid of criticism, afraid of being buried alive.

– Do not bury yourself ahead of time. Better tell me, you feel that you’ve done your main work or is it yet to come?

– Hope. All I have left and not destroyed, has been and remains totally relevant. I feel that everything is alive. Here, for example, the triptych “Moments of eternity”, which unites the feminine with the masculine.

– Why your women are always depicted from the front, and men in profile?

– FAS — stable profile — dynamic. The man is arranged so that it is constantly looking for changes. It is in this sense, antihumanist. Woman — humanistic. Any scientific discovery antihumanistic: it destroys the existing order.

– For you there are prohibitions?

Many of them described in the old Testament. They, of course, can be removed. Everything is possible, if nothing is sacred and everything is permitted. Only the person deprives himself of the imagination. And at the same time frees the demonic forces and energy. If the artist takes off another layer of the ban, he reveals what was once an untouchable mystery and sacrament.

From the cycle Mutants (Sodom and Gomorrah). Public life, 1975. Paper, gouache, Indian ink, 43 x 60 cm musée Maillol – Foundation Dina Vierny, Paris.

Your mutants — demons in a sense?

– Yes, interpret them as deformation of the human psyche, which occur under the influence of social problems. Language mutant Novarese. This terrible epidemic opposed to only culture – as the memory of mankind. But not a mass culture that does not and can not have a memory, because it is located in one dimension of the current society. My mutants as the ugliness of modernity speak only the language of mass culture. It is usually very practical people: the candidates in the super-old, the heroes of mass media… Do not speak as a fanatic, require to cut off the dead branches on a living tree. It’s part of life, and I perceive it as a whole as the most stunning piece, where everything has a place and everything is connected. I hope I managed to reproduce this picture in his things.

– How to come up with names?

– Is not invented, it is. Name — concept things. I’m not sitting around thinking about how to call it cunning. For example, my “Door”. How else can it be called? While there, you can… At the time it had been disassembled for more than 20 years at the Dina Vierny in Paris. Before the opening of the musée Maillol (the sculptor, whose Muse was Back) in 1995, where it was first put up, but… closed and signed “Wardrobe”. I tried to open it, I rushed to the guard: say, I have no right to touch the exhibit. I’m hysterical because I was waiting for this moment for more than 20 years, rushed to Dina, saying, or rather promices that this “Door,” not “Closet.” Explained that the name is conceptual, and the door must open so the audience could see what was happening inside. What Dean said, “What’s the difference?”. Most likely, Dean was attracted to only the outer texture of the doors of the Moscow communal apartment, and her idea was completely not understood.

The door (Dedicated to the parents of my parents…), 1972. The object 178 × 143 × 30 cm musée Maillol – Foundation Dina Vierny, Paris. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– What idea?

I always remain focused on the sculptural form, which would have been the most meaningful. Did this in the “Door”. It is extremely accurate as the person it depicted as if in an existential box, that is, as in life. The hero is between the two extreme States between the input and output — between infinity and actuality, this door, which can be a door to communal or something else.

– About your own people in boxes?

– Not really, these boxes I created a border, a membrane between the inner world of man and his external world, i.e. between the pressure of the external world and the internal resistance of the person. The shape of the boxes and the people in them are not artificial, it is created in the process of life. Everyone is under pressure: psychological and social… This pressure deforms it, his inner life. If he is a conformist, that lends itself completely to this pressure and takes the form that it imposes on society or the environment. If he is not a conformist, that resists and neutralizes the pressure. Then the form becomes very different. Each person has their own form.

I thought that the boxes about people, who themselves bind himself hand and foot, and ultimately about loneliness.

– These things can be endlessly discussed. Another thing is that people, fed by the products of mass culture, is not able to read. His imagination remains in the world of inner freedom. As a result, the stereotype of social behavior. This is not personality and character, integrated into a giant puppet, manipulated the tastemakers of popular culture. They sow the seeds of vulgarity, vulgarity, depersonalization…

– When you became interested in the study of world order?

From an early age. Did not play with toys given to me, and immediately dismantled, to understand how they work. When opened the inside of the toy, this was for me the most important thing in her. Later he began to invent and build a variety of boats and airplanes. When did another model of the toy, I was not a designer, never used rulers, compasses, some calculations. And was this a boat or a plane and I resists water or air and tried to create an image of her movements (themselves) in a resistant medium. It was an act of compassion, which was for me the most important evaluation criterion of the world.

Vladimir Yankilevsky on the background of the series of the divine Comedy. Paris, 2016. Photo: Vladimir Konstantin.

– Felt himself an artist?

– In art school. It is known that the artist who makes the picture. He knows what the picture is and how to do it. In principle it focuses on the creation of a masterpiece, which corresponds well with the idea of the painting or the artistic act with the public, critics, gallery owners. He always has a predecessor, giving him a model of creativity and workmanship. Even in appearance you can know the artist. And I don’t know what the picture is and how to do it. For me the pursuit of art was the knowledge of the world, forces to search for an adequate form of expression in the language of painting, which often did not coincide with the idea of the masterpiece. Due to chronic lack of money I often used poor materials that came to hand, just to have time to do what was in my imagination. It was cutting plywood and the walls of the crates of furniture that I steal the night (in the yard of the house where I rented a room, was a furniture store). A lot of things then because it lost its original appearance, paint faded, has faded.

– Why then you refuse to paint?

In my youth I was only doing colour things are just paint, they were very colored, for example, “Nuclear power plant”. As soon as began to enter the terrain, the colors function as a constructive start came to naught, because the relief was so strong that the need for color anymore.

– As you have been learning in art school?

– Went there probably at the request of parents. Under the direction tongue-tied and crushed by the greatness of classical art teachers I always felt a void that wanted to fill in natural science occupations and interests. It was not until my acquaintance with the art of the late XIX – early XX centuries, France and the Picasso exhibition in Moscow (1956). It was like a shock or an alarm clock that has awakened me from my sleepy state, where I was studying I did not quite touching and probing the boredom of the work. Put them in school as a role model.

– What are you shocked French painting?

– I haven’t been able to understand and explain for themselves. Just felt that these paintings comes alive refreshing wave, makes you worry and carry this experience a steady but hard-to-explain experiences. It was clear only that this impression is not associated with the depicted image, as a literary scenario of the paintings I was never interested. I was intuitively looking for ways to Express their feelings on canvas.

Teachers help?

– I was not affected. Classes in art school was very boring: I didn’t understand what I need to do. Teachers did not know how to teach. Expected: if the artist is more or less like depicts nature, it goes without saying that this is a work of art. However, the preference for a more beautiful figure, without much explanation, but the teacher somehow couldn’t explain. Although the task was — to draw the most accurate, close to nature — realistic. And then there is the situation in which beautiful work is obtained in the case where the object image is beautiful. So, for example, if you need to draw an ugly object, the artist is looking for ways to decorate it a certain aestheticism of lines, colors, textures… All this is reminiscent of the decoration of a corpse. For to portray, imitate the world and not try to Express their attitude to it, it means not to put the soul into the image, not to spiritualize it.

– How are you found?

– I have physiologically good eye, well see the proportion, grasp important. This does not mean the talent are two different things, but I was always very easy to draw. Always saw the most important characteristic. Maybe that’s why doing cartoons.

– Appreciate them?

– Very. But one day a girl I drew a cartoon and posted it in the newspaper, saw it and wept. Since then, more of them do not. Especially on women. When teachers put the model, model, and it was necessary to write… It was so ugly: the atmosphere, the fabric… And they said — you should do nicely, it seems, but beautiful. I couldn’t understand if it is ugly, how can I do it elegantly? Only then guessed that they didn’t know what to draw, what to paint. I didn’t understand what they want.

The pentaptychs No. 1. Nuclear station, 1962. Oil on cardboard, 154 × 615,5 cm Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– Who at that time was like from artists?

– Vrubel, Leonid Pasternak. He has a very good graphics. It has a sense. I had the idea that we should only write what I feel. If, for example, I painted the sitter, who was standing on one leg, the other he did not feel, I only drew this leg. Thus arose the idea of transferring my feelings, and began a search form.

Then broke off relations with the academic?

– When I decided not to enroll in the Surikov Institute. By this time I already knew that he was not giving me anything. There’s a dead school. Entered the Moscow Polygraphic Institute, where there was relative freedom. There were teachers who were once considered formal, they are of VKhUTEMAS, students of Tabor. At that time I was very worried the art of Picasso. It affected me because I saw in him what I was looking for — expressive deformation.

– Miro for you means something?

It quickly ceased to interest me, as did virtually surreal things, he was the sky or some space where floated the individual items. And I wanted to do the sky, and the big thing, inside which there are small things, but every organ inside the body. I have everything is equally intense.

Vladimir Yankilevsky with his wife Rimma against the background of her portrait 1958-th year. Moscow, 1974. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– How did you come to collage?

– The world I wanted to show, had such parameters that could not be described using traditional painting methods. For example, is the attitude which has emerged in me still exists. It can be every person is, simultaneously, past, present and future. The past as memory, present as actuality and the future as dream. Not to say that he lives only in past or future. It’s all at the same time. It can directly in all the spaces to be.

– Give me an example.

Is perfectly expressed Magritte. He wrote of a man from past, present and future. Magritte — the last artist that can be shown with the help of illustrations of the problem of modern understanding of the world. And all modern currents in art, he foresaw, and painted as an illustration. Description of the world of the literary way is unacceptable for me.

– What do you prefer?

– Music. In it I learned myself, attitude. She helped me come to the correct scenic space and compositional dynamics. Albert Schweitzer in his fundamental work on Baja (I have devoted a cycle of works) wrote that composers are artists and writers. In this analogy I would call myself an artist-composer. But I never thought of music as a commentary on some vital events. Perceive it as an impression of life and eternity.

Triptych No. 11. Moments Of Eternity (Dedicated To Alexander Rabinovich), 1974. Oil on canvas 113 × 487 × 14 cm Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg. Photo from the personal archive Jankilevskij.

– You only think about eternity? I do not want to write about that here and now?

– If the pieces are glued to today — after 20 years, forget about them. The real art is transparent at the time. It will go down in history.

…An evening in memory of Vladimir Yankylevsky will be held in Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM) on 15 February.

Help “MK”. Vladimir Yankilevsky is one of the key representatives of nonconformism. Considered the founder of the metaphysical conceptualism. Yankilevsky is a graduate of the Institute of Printing, where in the early 60’s implicitly matured ideas of new art. It is here taught artist and teacher Ely Belyutin, which Yankilevsky close, and with whom he participated in the famous exhibition “30 years MOSKh” in the Manege. Sector of the exhibition featuring works of artists-experimenters, was heavily criticized by Nikita Khrushchev. Among the works that caused the irritation of the Secretary General, was and works Yankylevsky. After that, the artist could legally be exhibited only in 1975, after the easing of persecution of nonconformists. In 1965, he wrote one of the most famous works titled triptych No. 5, “Adam and eve” that sold in 2017 at the auction “Vladey” for €250 000.


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