The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba Yaga)

Baba-Yaga

Oil painting on canvas, 24″ x 30″ (60 cm x 76 cm), November 2014

 

A friend of mine called and asked me to participate in a project she already was part of. The idea was to have four or five artist who would paint images inspired by the music of Modest Mussorgsky or, more precisely, his famous “Pictures at an Exhibition”. There would be a painting for each movement, preferable in oil. Rochester’s Symphonic Orchestra and Chorale will perform the piece in March 2015 and the exhibition would be part of the event. I accepted the offer without hesitation and started making sketches right away, and soon I had enough material to start a painting. My first choice was Baba Yaga –a well known character in the Slavic folklore. Painting about the music itself, in my opinion, would take some abstract images but, I was not ready to plunge in that kind of adventure (unless I was sure I could make some works in the style of Kandinsky) so I decided to paint about the stories behind the music and, for that purpose a representative painting would be just perfect. The main attribute of Baba Yaga is her hut on chicken legs, and there are many other things that the Baba was identified with such as: snake, cloud, winter, bird, etc. I let my imagination flow freely and I came up with the idea of the central figure being a triad Baba Yaga – the hut on chicken legs – turning out to be a tree. Since Baba Yaga is a witch everything related to her seem to be quite weird: the glowing legs transformed into the tree branches, the highly stylized leaves-branches with almost skeletons-looking details, the architectural construction that defies any rule or logic, etc. As for the colors my choice from the beginning was to use the purple and yellow combination. The purple is a “risky” color and pretty hard to handle, but I knew that together with cadmium yellow and black it should be very effective and rewarding. Eventually I started adding more colors (red, blue, orange, green, brown) just challenging myself even more while having an excuse that it was the folklore and far from the academic standards. On top of all of that came the pink detail (as well as the banana-moon) that (obviously) was homage to Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground indicating my rather urban background. Entire painting is a long list of weirdness (quite appropriate to the topic) where the things seem to be ambiguous, not being definitely defined and carrying more than one developing directions and meaning. Again, it’s my  offer,  to the viewer to find her/his own picture and explanation in the one that has been initially offered by myself.

African Dream

African-Dream

Oil painting on canvas, dimensions 40″ x 30” (102 x 76 cm), 2013.

Off the Mediterranean themes to a dream where the reality and the fantastic are even more accentuated: two men in a dream dreaming about the reality that can only be seen through the dream.

 

 

The Golden Sea

The-Golden-Sea

Oil painting on canvas, dimensions 40″ x 30” (102 x 76 cm), 2013.

Another Mediterranean painting, or better said, another inspired by Rovinj. To live by the sea, and if the sea is the Mediterranean, it’s a great privilege. That’s where the title came from. Don’t expect to see exact presentation of the town – I’m not a documentarist (unless documenting my dreams and daydreams can make me deserve that title). Maybe the picture should bear the attribute of a fairytale presented by the help of the American night.

 

 

It’s Only a (Pompeiian) Dream

It's Only a (Pompeiian) Dream

 

Oil painting on canvas, 24″ x 30″ (60 cm x 76 cm), September 2012

Although the title reassures that it was only a dream,  the picture goes beyond the dream; after having a  dream there’s always thinking about the dream that always adds more to it. The process doesn’t stop there: it continues while working on the picture. At the end something that started as a dream becomes a picture that claims its own existence and meaning.

Like my previous two oil paintings the idea for this one has its visual source in the Mediterranean, although stylistically it’s different from them. While the other two paintings were formally divided in ten vertically positioned segments in which the sky and the water do not have continuity from one segment to another, here, in this narrow Mediterranean street there is much more visual coherence present. Also, the division of the pictorial elements is more subtle here. They are divided into three groups: the people, the architecture and the elemental forces – water and fire (these two taking the semblance of the sky and magma-like street. The dramatic linear architectural perspective has it’s vanishing point somewhere around the male person’s head; the perspective of the three foggy circles follows different logic, but also starts from the same vanishing points equally indicating that all had started in the person’s head in the form of a dream. The circles of the dream do not cover the elemental forces because they are not part of the dream but rather part of the everyday’s real life in which the Mediterraneans live running for their lives trying to find surviving safe spots for living in the titanic clash of the elemental forces (often seen as the mythological personifications).

Sister – Mediterranean Sundowns

Oil painting on canvas, dimensions 40″ x 30” (102 x 76 cm), 2012.

This painting echoes the idea(s) present in my previous work (“Moonways – Mediterranean Nights”). Numerous similarities – division in ten vertical strips patterned in dark and light tones with sharp discontinuation with each other applied to the background and foreground (but not on the main landscape), typical Mediterranean architecture, stylized  light-path shapes, dreamlike atmosphere, half hidden  shapes that could be seen as different objects with different meanings, the size, etc., dictated the name for the painting – being the sister painting to the previous one.

I usually don’t paint pictures in the same “style” (hopefully, I will find some time and room to give an explanation on that), but this was an exception I couldn’t suppress: “Moonways” just needed it. They should probably be placed on the wall next to each other.

This picture is actually a self-portrait in some way – myself being the island.

Thoughts about Mediterranean still occupy my mind and there will certainly be more paintings inspired by the area, but they might be painted in a different manner.

Last week I had this picture (together with other four oil paintings) on a show organized by local IMAA celebrating World Refugee Day and had a pleasure to hear positive feedback about the work