Reviews, Glosses, Observations
Bělocvětov was always his own man, under any conditions. He refused to submit even to the dictatorship of the “author’s signature”, which requires artists to have their works recognized by the public at first sight. With each of his paintings, Bělocvětov experimented, he tried to get “beyond himself”, beyond what he had already done, and “beyond art”, i.e. beyond what others had already attempted in art.
[ Editor’s note: This is the 1st key to Andrei Bělocvětov’s work, and also perhaps the most succinct and “comprehensive” summary of the reasons why many art theorists do not know what to do with Bělocvětov today ]
Andrei stood at his easel for up to 12 hours a day-painting over different stylistic forms with a fierce ferocity. At the age of 17, he painted his portrait like Rembrandt, and if by the age of 20 he had mastered the craft, in another 20 years he was painting “above the form” itself.
Prof. Ivo Kořán, from the Institute of Art History of the AV ČR, art historian, expert on Gothic and Baroque art, in the text to the catalogue of Bělocvětov’s exhibition (Gallery br.Capku 1986), precisely describes the very essence of Bělocvětov’s work. (scan of the full text by Kořán: page 2 , page 3, page 4 ).
I’ll just quote a few key glosses from here:
1. On p. 2 Kořán talks about how “Bělocvětov’s genius for painting incited him to ever new experiments, outgrowing the previous period”.
He goes on to say: The only constants that persist in his work are the completely sovereign line, which in the painter’s own words “must have colour, characterise shape and enclose volume” (the worst thing is that it does indeed have all these factually unnecessary attributes), and the transparent – at once intoxicating and striking – colour .
2. “Dozens, hundreds of drawings show how, through gradual transformation, his monumental works emerge from real records …
If the masters of the secret arts spoke of a true path, then this, in my opinion, is the only true path to art that is truly musical, equally distant from academic realism and formal abstraction.”
Here, I think, Kořán – an expert in medieval art (and not only in fine art) – was the only one to recognize the transmutative form of Bělocvětov’s work, transforming both soul and images in accordance with the inner imperative of the spiritual path he had embarked on.
Then, speaking in a different context about the onset of the work’s peak period in the early 1990s, he unmistakably reflects the omnipresent “all-pervading white” in the paintings, as the completion of the spiritual journey of harmony with oneself (one’s soul), i.e. the materialization of the proverbial Nomen-Omen “Bělo-cvět-ov” (ie White-color) And it was the aforementioned tradition of the “secret arts” that associated the white-color with the radiance of Pneuma – the spiritual light permeating our – profane world.
That profound insight was subsequently used by others, e.g. Brozman in his monograph (pp. 142, 160).
Kořán’s veiled allusion to the mysteries of the secret arts and their “right way” has a concrete historical basis: In the “Texts of the Coffins” of the Old Kingdom, the “true way” is understood as the transmutation of the soul to achieve harmony with the Order (Maat) [ see also Janák: Egypt – Texts of the Coffins (TR II 32b-33a) ]. Today we know the analogy of this as “living in the Truth” (then by Christians as “living in Christ”) and in this sense are “true, true and real” synonyms of Truth.
2012 Lidové noviny magazine:
… When I first saw Bělocvětov’s paintings in the early 1980s, it was immediately obvious to me who he was. Some theorists have been at it for more than 30 years – and still have no clarity! All sorts of misinterpretations and delusions are spreading – the painter’s great monograph is unfortunately proof of this. Bělocvětov still seems to be unwilling to lie down in neat folders. … (referring to the two-volume monograph Brozman, Pospiszyl)
http://franz.wz.cz/books/Rozhovory/setkavani/index.html (Abridged here) … Andrei had apparently created a kind of energy code and concentration that no one understood, and which held together everything he did – not least his body. As a result of his wild, often self-destructive way of life, Andrei found himself at the absolute threshold of his existence. In medical terms, he had been “over-sleeping” since his fiftieth year. However, he managed to tame his will into a rare energy current. Although his energy was positive, Andrei was a very dramatic man inwardly. His heightened sensitivity and very sharp world view must have undoubtedly hurt him. That is why his work is also a kind of reportage on this world …
… At the end of his life, he reached a similar stage to Josef Váchal (and similarly to Kabelák or Meyrink). He was already in complete control of his body and could turn it off at will. Andrei Bělocvětov therefore decided one day, that he would no longer continue this futile earthly comedy … in the evening he switched off and left (see also the conclusion of the lecture). Andrei Bělocvětov, who was predicted to die at the age of 50, thus sublimated thermal energy into light energy. He was a strange being …
In both glosses here, Franz touches inadvertently on the processes accompanying both the transmutation of the soul itself, and the transformation of the work tied to that transmutation. Franz’s account is all the more valuable because, although he is not “burdened” with knowledge of the practice of traditional spiritual paths, his brilliant analytical and observational talent safely recognizes some of their typical manifestations and is thus actually an independent control of the aforementioned transmutation.
The following note would probably belong in the Captured Falsehood section, but the introductory text there is already long anyway, so I’m placing it here .
I have a colleague whose son started playing the piano (on his own initiative) at the age of two. The boy has an absolute ear and a Mozartian memory – this is certainly a musical talent .
But talent alone (undeveloped, moreover) does not make a piano virtuoso. Only practice, many hours a day for many years, can gradually develop and cultivate this talent in parallel with the deepening of technical and performing virtuosity;
Without those “12 hours” of practice a day no one will be a Rubinstein .
And the same is true in the fine arts – unfortunately, there are many who think otherwise!
And even more of those who – “think so” – allow them.
The world of music, with its educated public, centuries of pedagogy, knowledgeable critics and, most importantly, competition from outstanding performers, will quickly convince any schumacher that even with talent, you can’t do it without the aforementioned exercise.
The decline of artistic perception and practice has been going on since the 19th century and – measured by results – almost unnoticed. I will try to demonstrate this schematically with a rather catastrophic scenario in the world of music:
Let us imagine that a few pianos are preserved into the future – over the horizon of centuries – in a preserved state (leaving aside the technical details of the instruments’ functionality). The tradition of music pedagogy is completely interrupted, any musical notation and awareness of how to use the instrument is lost. The instrument is “discovered” and subjected to various experiments. One hits the keyboard with his fist and receives well-deserved admiration for the rambajz it produces. Another presses the keys with his whole forearm and that’s just the “rumble”. There are competitions – who is louder, who is higher, who is further away. The winner surprised with real inventiveness when he started jumping on the keyboard. That has never happened before – bravo Master, bravo!
That there is no musical idea? – what is it?! That there is no melody, harmony, fingering? – what nonsense!
And if you replace musical terms with artistic ones – we’re back to the present day.
Check Question: Do you think that (a hibernating) Garrick Ohlsson would have succeeded in that musical post-apocalyptic society? That – against a winning jumper – he would have any chance (I remind you that that society has no idea what a musical sound, let alone a piano sound, should look like).