Rojus

March 19, 2016

Overtime I am conditioned to the muted colors of Čiurlionis’ paintings.

It gives off a dreamy air like in Miestas [135], a white city shrouded in the late afternoon haze, which a moment ago I took a glimpse while in sleep, but now the memory fades further and away so that what remained are only the milky tone and a blurred architectural form. Yet these things I will soon lose hold of forever too.

Or it evokes other-planetly imageries as in Pasaulio Sutvėrimas [69], chiefly due to the warm color tone but also because of the peculiar structural orderliness — the almost repetitive pattern displayed by the growing things. The crystal growth over there also leads to flowering and fruit bearing; when the time is ripe, the fruit of crystallization falls to the ground into gleaming fragments, accompanied by silverly clinks (La Planète Sauvage). This low saturation could also represent a chaotic beginning of nebulous void, from which distinct thoughts emerge and disappear in the form of symmetriads, asymmetriads and mimoids (Solaris).

More often, when it comes to the religious themes, the obscurity corresponds to the inexplicable part of the primeval yearning for worshipping. In Himnas [16], thick clouds briefly break apart, letting through rays of sunlight onto the distant horizon that dispel the gloominess. A natural wonder alluding to a divine existence somewhere over the clouds, a path leading to eternal happiness whose entrance no mortals can reach. In Praeitis [81], the colossal slab that marks sunrise seems to embody ritualistic spirits in the innocent ages (even though the Macedonian sun has evidently become a cliché by the time I finished the book). And a recurring motif is the eagle messengers out of the west [82, 142], bearing blessings from the lords and disseminating hope among the mundane world.

Even a soulless person such as myself can be a bit shaken by such awe-inspiring depictions. It makes me ponder whether the urge of worshipping is a conciliation between the desire of perfection and the knowledge that it’s beyond reach. Or if it stems from their weaknesses of the constant needs to be loved, to be watched over, to anchor their inner selves at some secure place however their lives might float around.

There are numerous other examples that are more explicit on this theme. Especially towards the end, the perfect hierarchy of the universe in the artist’s mind is entirely revealed [212 – 214]. However, as I have never made peace with the rule that the last movement of a musical piece always has to climb to some apex, it also dazzles my eyes to see all that grandiose and overflowing bliss on the canvas.

Of course for me, a charming painting does not speak to me without an admirable painterly effect. Unlike the obelisk cypresses seen elsewhere, the austere Mountains and Cypresses in [39] become abstracted by only wild curves and color stretches that begin to flow and intertwine; the Winter forest [101] I’d rather consider it to be a collection of rare white leaf samples against an amiable backdrop of cosmic latte; the midnight Forest [161] wakes up to be a lively band of naughty ghosts, whose playful silhouettes can be dimly discerned under the sleepy stars; a rather brooding sort of Stillness [43] whose disquiet is betrayed by the disturbed water and air.

The overall experience browsing through Čiurlionis’ paintings is that of a positive buoyancy concisely summarized by Rojus [177], originating from a mind constantly exploring the infinite forms of beauty of the world as its wings grow ever broader.

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