Pyotr Dik
Disjointed Thoughts
An artist with a pen in hand trying to express his thoughts, in fact any theorizing artist, looks a bit suspicious to me. The artist's pictures should be able to convey his thoughts and feelings in full. Moreover, the word belongs in the world of its own.
And yet, it so happens at times during my work that suddenly and unexpectedly thoughts come into my head. I write them down, usually on some scraps of paper which mostly get lost, of course. Naturally, my jottings are connected, in one way or another, to what I'm thinking and feeling at the time.
They are just disjointed, "rough" thoughts. So it occurred to me to include the surviving notes in this catalogue since I can see that they are of general nature and in no way replace my works. Perhaps some people may even feel attuned to my reactions to things.
On Art
Outside the act of creative revelation all talk about morality in art and its ideology (ideological commitment) are not only senseless but also immoral because they lead us astray from the very essence of art, from its content conveyed through form, which alone carry ideas and morality, beauty and pain, and all else that is incorporated into an all-embracing notion of "art" as a means of comprehending and expressing the world.

It goes without saying that everything (or much) in art is determined by the nature of the artist's talent. But when an artist first conceives a picture and then looks for the most expressive form to convey his conception he inevitably becomes an illustrator of his own pre-conceived worldview (his idea). In this case the form ceases to be a tool of knowledge and revelation and becomes just a servant that you resort to when necessary. With such an approach art is no longer a means of cognition and expression but an illustrator of commonplaces. Whatever lofty ideological considerations the author may be guided by this method is destructive and would lead him into a blind alley, for it destroys the very nature of artistic creativity as a special way of cognizing the world.

We can see two distinctive trends in art: the art of craftsmanship and craftsmanship in art. Craftsmanship becoming an art is achieved with modern technologies where one and the same device is reiterated and perfected to the point of virtuosity (such as we see in turnery and metal work.) And in that lies their main purpose. Real art is based on the Spirit – it cannot be multiplied and it only gives birth to inimitable forms, which lose their meaning outside the Spirit.

When I'm trying to understand the cause of my unease and apprehension facing the kaleidoscope of the endlessly changing artistic devices and concepts in contemporary art, which destroy and ignore the past achievements, I come to the following conclusion: this approach is essentially the result of a fragmentary perception of the world. This art is not constructive because it contains no "constants" but treats "variables" as absolutes. This is an egotistic art of "one-day butterflies".

Today the most pressing problems, in my view, are of a general nature. Talent remains unclaimed – this is a fact. Art is undergoing an active process of commercialization. As a result, art criteria (evaluation) are getting increasingly blurred. It's imperative to restore to art its genuine spiritual essence. It's necessary to get rid of worldliness, simple reporting, false significance, and such like.

We were persuaded, first at college and then by various exhibition organizers, to depict life "in the forms of life itself". This requirement, which has become a tradition, actually renounces the very subject of art and its nature, its inherent essence. Everything has been reduced to the maximally life-like depiction of visual reality. In actual fact the essence is quite the opposite: reality should be the starting point for penetrating the essence. It was not for nothing that the ancients said: "The further from nature the nearer to it."

Art is an ability to love and be open to the world. It is thanks to this ability that art unites people with its supreme creative joy. I'll try to express myself more precisely. At some point I clearly realized that hatred separates people while love brings them together, because it compels a person to open up. And then I understood what Alexander Blok meant when he said that only a person in love has the right to be called a human being. He meant it in a broad sense, the broadest, in fact. Only through this ability to love can we attain a creative potential and our life becomes meaningful inasmuch as we are capable of creation. Hence is what determines my attitude to art not so much as a profession but mainly as a state of my spirit. For all that there are professional criteria of judgment, of course, and points of departure. But my road towards such awareness and such vision has been long and arduous.

Art should not be viewed in terms of pessimistic and optimistic. The fact of its appearance as such is life-affirming, even if it renounces life.

Art is not a profession but a worldview, and its nature determines the appropriate forms of expression – this is how I understand it. My creative problems arise from the need to establish plastic, rhythmic, and other connections to achieve an overall organic perception of the world. The objective world becomes dematerialized in an art work and is translated into the language of visual presentation with its laws of light, rhythms and color. This creates a duality of the real and the irreal. And it is this duality that I work with. On the one hand, this method enables me to broaden my own perception of the subject world, and on the other hand, it helps me reveal the universal essence in most diverse phenomena uniting them into a single entity which is realized through me in a picture.

The true reality for me is the spirit of creative energy (reflecting the light of the Heavenly essence of world creation) since we have all been created after His image and likeness… So for me a work of art is realistic inasmuch as it accumulates the spirit of this creative energy rather than the work's likeness to the visually perceived world.

I understand "holy essence" as what makes all the living things alive and life-giving (creating life). Art, as a God-given gift, is a reflection of that heavenly light and its creative and spiritual energy. In my opinion, this should be the only point of departure and criteria for a humanist and creative position. The rest is from the Devil. It's not easy to follow this principle, for it is assumed that you yourself live and act according to this principle. However, I believe that following this way art may fulfill its mission to become a creative and spiritual bridge among people.

"In poetry what can be put in other words is not poetry." (Marina Tsvetaeva) So what about visual arts where the medium is not the word? Each attempt to put a picture into words produces a story from which the spirit had evaporated. The thing is that a genuine work of art is always multi-dimensional, as life itself which it expresses. Any excerpt - and this is what a retelling actually is – makes the work one-dimensional. And all is lost. Each work of art (a painting) is an energetic field arising as a result of an interaction among all the participating elements: rhythm, light, colors, space, etc. I think we perceive the world with all our being and not only through words.

Talent is the only novelty which is always new. They say a picture is like an icon. But you can't rely on God alone. You have to be able to paint a good icon. The living icons and paintings oppose dead icons and paintings.
On Creativity
As a rule I don't paint from nature but work with nature. In most cases ideas for pictures and corresponding artistic solutions come unexpectedly. My theme is always with me. I always react to the surrounding world, anything can suddenly become an inspiration for a picture: a figure on the road, a crow on an aerial, a hole in the wall, a doorway, and what not.

It took me a long time to find the right material, the language and form of expression. I used to profess professionalism in art. But gradually I came to the understanding that one's personal perception of the world is indivisible from the appropriate means of expression as a precondition for the formation of one's artistic consciousness.

At some point I realized that when you're looking for an art idiom you may not find it, but when you are concerned with some human problems and feel the need for an outcome you find the right one for it. I've arrived at this conviction and I'm not going to prove my point or argue with anyone.

I'm interested not so much in the details of everyday life as in the inner springs behind people's spiritual states.

Infinity focuses in a certain point and the point grows into infinity. This is only possible in conditions of absolute inner interconnection, interdependence, and interpenetration of all the constituent elements of a composition. And only then a work acquires its distinctive individuality and becomes a living organism existing according to the laws of all the living creatures. It is no longer a random motif but an independent universe.

I presume (think) that the artist's utterances ought to be as natural as his breathing. There is no need to invent anything out of the ordinary, to go out of your way to express the times, in which you live. Every artist carries his own truth, also about himself. A taste for quest prevents results.

It's a matter of the scope of one's artistic Weltanschauung, which is determined by the artist's talent rather than the importance of his theme. You can collect all the symbols in the world and still fail to produce a work of art.

When you need to put into words your "artistic creed" you can't help feeling embarrassed. I think this is primarily because verbal explanations don't really explain much about the art which uses different means of expression and exist in its own element. Moreover, you have to talk about what has been accomplished already, or about your creative plans. I don't see much point in discussing my past experiences which have already been realized in a work of art. Discussing your creative plans is equally useless, because at the start of a project you never know how it may end.

For me art is not an Act of Will but a Revelation, an act of creation. This is why to the question "What is your creed?" I answer: ""My creed is in my works."

I would like to immerse the viewer into an atmosphere of quiet. This is so natural, in our day and age, when we're surrounded with thundering noises and mad rhythms. In order to hear and be heard one needs quiet. I would like to come back to people and all that is human, and in my art I would like, as far as I can, to restore the inner dynamism rather than the outward. Inner dynamism presupposes an outward static. You can see it clearly in icon painting: under the impact of secular art the emphasis in icons is shifting gradually from the inner dynamics to the outward. At the same time icon painting is losing its energy and the Spirit, increasingly becoming just a picture to look at.

The cult of technology, the same as an underestimation of it, will be overcome, in my opinion. Technology is not an end in itself after all, but a means to an end.

A human heart is beating with the same rhythm even in a spaceship. Come to think of it, Andrei Rublev created his "Trinity" and "Savior" without our modern technologies. In the times of terrible trouble Rublev formed his understanding of an Ideal and realized it in his "Trinity".

Have you paid attention to how people simply do not see or hear one another? They make noises feverishly, fuss around, and interrupt each another. You have an impression that no one is interested what his neighbor thinks and feels: it's as if everybody is for himself. Hence the rumpus, the bustle, and the mad race for dubious values, usually worthless and mercenary. Artists are aware of this and try to be true to life as much as they can. The more thoroughly the artist conveys this spirit the more damage he does because he simply adds to the bacchanal and vanity. And this is instead of summoning the courage to stop it (even fall behind, if you will) and listen to his inner self, trying to understand himself and others.

I've never tried to guide myself in any direction but stayed maximally open to the world. I retain an awareness of my connection to it, and view myself as a conductor of what is being realized through me.

I'm not attracted to the idea of "savoring" the horrors of the modern world, Russian in particular. I'm interested in what helps people survive. I share an irresistible feeling of love for the world, for my near ones, and our "lesser brethren".

I never redo anything, and neither do I impose my will on others. But if thanks to my works people get nearer to one another and better understand each other and learn to love each other, then I haven't lived and toiled in vain.
How Works of Art Emerge? God Knows!
Everything is determined by the nature of the artist's talent. As with other artists, the language and style of my works derive from my individual perception of the world (that is, not my everyday life but the life of the mind, not my social reactions but the springs behind my spiritual states.) They compel me to select specific plastic solutions and reconsider certain notions: instead of lighting I'm looking for the Light, and instead of warm-cold color arrangements I address color as a category, color intensity, etc.

How Works of Art Emerge? GodKnows! I don't even try to analyze how they come into being – no point at all. I don't invent them: it's as if they overtake me so to say. My task is to be ready for them and sort out my relationship with the sheet and paints in front of me.

A sheet is a whole cosmos, a veritable infinity. It responds to your touch accordingly. It treats you as you treat it. You should carry on a dialogue with the sheet sensitively and with care, as with any other material. It is a living organism with which you are coming into contact. Your work starts living an inner life of its own and I have no idea how it is going to end. All the elements start interacting with one another creating a separate environment of space, plastic expression, rhythms, colors, and light, all paving the way towards what I call organics. When a work attains a distinctive face it begins to exist independently of its author.

The most precious thing for me is the miracle of the birth of a new picture. If this happens it means that all the factors joined into a maximally organic single whole, all the elements of which have become saturated with the same energy. That moment of birth determines the resultant artwork.
On the national Russian landscape
There is much talk nowadays (in some artistic circles) about the national Russian landscape, its wide vistas, depth, etc. These go without saying, but the presence of such motifs in a painting does not make the author a national Russian artist.

Emotional motifs, however attractive they may appear, should not replace a creative act without which there is no revelation in art and you're only crawling on the surface of the "visible" illusory world.

Without a broad visual context a picture will remain within just a superficial perception. A creative act is an artistic revelation (a unique phenomenon which cannot be mass-produced) conveyed with the means of expression available in painting. Through an artistic interpretation of reality a way is found for representing the essential features of this reality. You should not ignore the language which provides those means of expression.

The road of likeness in art is the road of illusions leading into a blind alley. An artist embarking on the road of likeness inevitably comes to creating an illusion instead of real art. Such "art" negates its own nature (as a system of conventions: surface, color, rhythm, tone, form) but claims to be a reflection of life.

Mass-production of likeness illusions is directly contrary to the act of creation which is always unique and one of a kind. Art is not only an instrument for examining and expressing reality but also, in a broad and profound sense, it is a visual expression of being versus non-being.
On Life
"Along the Way there are no trodden paths, one who has embarked on it will be lonely and in danger." (Zen) Life is wonderful in all its manifestations. The cult of Life is the only way which is self-justifiable. IsManwonderful? Should we pose the question like this? Man is wonderful because he created all the great values of the spirit, engineering, art, and intellect; and Man is horrible because he disfigured the world beyond recognition and his cruelty knows no bounds.

I think a way towards Life and the Creator of Life is impossible within a herd. Each person passes his predestined Way on his own and with humility. As an artist I know that if your hands and fingers (they say "clever fingers") are working synchronously with the beating of your heart they perform precisely the message of your impassioned Soul.

That is, in a moment of creativity the body and the spirit are inseparable. They become a single whole. Life – Love – Art. These are the three hypostases which determine my attitude towards all being. To live, to love, to work, - this path I would like to follow all my life so that my life would last. This is how I see my predestination. It does not mean that one should see life only in radiant colors – "Being becomes real only when it is threatened with non-being." (Dostoyevsky)
On Medieval Russian Art
I am a Russian artist (raised on Russian culture, a German by birth, Russian by education, language, and culture.)

It is not enough to say that I love medieval Russian art (icons and frescoes) - it also makes a great impact on me, opening up to me as my readiness to perceive it grows. The inner orientation of this art towards the very foundations of being and its overall confessional nature are of particular essence to me. This art teaches us, who live today, some very important lesson. We are lacking that tranquil spirit which Old Russian masters strived for and so well succeeded in. I can't help noting another important feature of that art: it does not reveal to us the author's will but his revelation.

Perhaps due to the specifics of my personal perception of art, I feel particular affinity with Theophanes the Greek. Why he in particular? Because he does not observe our earthly world from high above as it were, watching those below pottering about and suffering. He is one of us, one of the martyrs. At the same time his angle of vision and observation is wide and he is able to see and perceive much. The sorrows coming with this knowledge as well as the joys of our life are what I call mystical vision and "suppressed light".

What I said about Theophanes the Greek is not just an abstract thought. I also feel the need to be involved in the events around me. In my view it's a sacrilege to observe from aside what is going on around you. Someone said that to suffer for humanity is easier than to do a good turn to your own mother. Compassion means action in the first place.
On Icons
There are no two icons alike.

An icon radiating grace and reverence is one thing. But icons deprived of these qualities (there are quite a few of those) is a different matter altogether. No priest is able to infuse such icons with what has been missing in them originally: the artist's talent of the soul.

Whereas an icon serves as man's prayer to save his soul, art, and particularly painting, is a grateful confession about life, a hymn to the Creator for giving us life.

The easiest way is to reject flesh as something "sinful", "mortal", and transient. But our body is the container of our spirit and it is important that it becomes a temple for the Spirit, but it should be the spirit of Good and not Evil.

The soul can be more sinful than the body. The soul sends an incentive to the body, and the quality of the Soul directly determines the state and activeness of our body (even its physical condition.)

If Christ is the ideal for humanity then the more humane a human being is the closer he is to the ideal, to Christ.

Opposing godly knowledge to self-knowledge is equal to opposing God to man instead of juxtaposing them.

An icon image is an ideal face, a concentrated representation of a human face. An icon image expresses certain facial states such as self-immersion and aloofness. A child always perceives the face of God's Mother as that of its own mother because the icon image is so obviously similar to the human face. In what measure a human face approximates an icon image depends on how much humanity a person can cultivate in himself and how closely he can approach this ideal, Christ.

World art and icon painting should not be opposed because essentially they derive from the same roots: the World and God. Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" is not seen as an icon but they are not much different. People meditate in front of paintings as in front of icons. God is where life is. Der Gott ist dort, wo ein Leben drin ist.

On landscape
Of all the landscapes the closest to me are those with distant even horizons: valleys, sandy and stony deserts lined with black low hills or gentle-blue mountain ranges at the eye level. Such landscapes make you lose a sense of time, and beyond the horizon something is always lurking, which gives you hope.
On viewers
I speak to the public at my own level. There is no need to adapt to the viewer's taste, in most cases uncultivated. Better give them a chance to develop their taste. It is necessary to work with the public, to extend the limits of their notions of art by offering different opinions and views to them for their consideration.
On styles
Styles and trends are not made to order, they evolve in the process of (as a result of) the artist's way of life. All attempts to work them out inevitably lead to stylization, that is, to something stillborn.
On social significance of art works
As for social significance of art works, I'd formulate it like this: the social significance of an art work is directly proportionate to its artistic quality. The more perfect an art work is the more socially significant it is for society, and vice versa: outside artistic perfection an art work cannot be of any social significance.

The currently widespread appeals to artists to increase their social activities show complete lack of understanding, for the most part, of how these activities manifest themselves in concrete terms. As a rule, the artist is advised to tackle "significant" topical themes and treat them in the spirit of "modern-day requirements". However, it should not be a matter of an artistic presentation of a socially significant theme but a matter of cultivating an organic overall worldview, which alone can produce genuine socially significant work of art, and that will show his social activeness. The scope of an artistic worldview and its quality determine the importance of the artist rather than the importance of the theme which the artist may or may not tackle.

Doing his best to improve the quality of his work the artist thus enhances its social significance.
Artistic "Ego"
When you work, when you are immersed in a project which occupies your mind completely, you forget about everything else. Your Ego is the last thing on your mind. It may seem incredible but as soon as you begin to focus too much on your own person everything is finished and there is no more art.

Your works become cold, cerebral, stilted, forced, flat, or just sheer rapture. How can you allow it!

To attach such importance to your own person means either deception or self-delusion deriving from narrow-mindedness. That's a real tragedy. You can deceive others but not yourself. Is it worthwhile to spend your life on trying to impress people, manipulate their passions, engage in empty games, waste your time? What for? We have so many problems of mutual understanding, the need to get closer and more coherent to one another and enjoy the feeling. There is so much to be done, so much work. There is no way you can go by without your "I", naturally.

But your "I" can only go by together with a self-denial. Only then your true inner self will be revealed.

It is not all the same to me with what eyes we'll look at the world. I'm interested in human beings and the atmosphere in the world, that is, how we are coping with today's problems and what aura we'll leave after we are gone. We have no alternative. It has been said again and again: hasten to do good, for only this will enable you to survive. This sounds declarative and yet it is very true.