Exhibition by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis at National Art Museum
At present, almost the entire artistic legacy of Čiurlionis is held by the M.K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, in Kaunas. His fragile media, of pastels or tempera on paper or cardboard, make it impossible to transport his works beyond Lithuania. With this in mind, Minsk’s exhibition featured 26 reproductions — including 12 Zodiac cycle pictures, sonatas, a prelude and 16 photocopies of Čiurlionis’ photos from his Anapa: 1905 album; the latter were on show in Minsk for the first time.
The exhibition was organised by the Ministry of Culture of Belarus, with the National Art Museum of Belarus, the M.K. Čiurlionis House Cultural and Information Centre in Vilnius, the M.K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas, the M.K. Čiurlionis Society in Lithuania, and the Embassy of Lithuania to Belarus.
Works by Čiurlionis occupy a special place in the history of global pictorial art. Being a musician and an artist, he attempted to unite the two, combining musical and pictorial elements. He named his pictures with such titles as Sonata, Fuga, and Prelude. Their internal structure was based upon the laws of musical composition, as if sung. Čiurlionis used delicate paint colours and fine lines, as well as unusual architectonics. Marc Etkind — an historian of arts — wrote: ‘If we look at the painter’s artistry as a whole, it appears like a unique picturesque symphony’.
Čiurlionis was among the first to develop ‘cosmism’ in art, stating that we are not just ‘of Earth’ but of the Universe. His artistic insights allow us to witness the process of stars and planets being born from primeval chaos. He transports us to various places and other dimensions, to unique worlds of light and harmony.
Russian poet of the ‘Silver Age’ Alexander Blok said, “A true artist sees not only the world’s surface but everything hidden: the unknown distance which is shielded from most people by their naivety. Čiurlionis hears the world’s orchestra and is able to reproduce its sounds.” The master lived a short yet dazzling life, creating over 300 works in modern and cosmism styles, in addition to around 400 musical pieces. The latter unite symbolism with elements of folk art, and are influenced by Japanese, Egyptian and Indian culture.
By Veniamin Mikheev