Nikita Efremovtsev

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The myths of Crete and ancient Russia

It would be naïve to think that a person can achieve anything that is considerable in arts and sciences «all by himself». It goes without saying, that he can do that, but it would be by being deeply in love with the world, in which we live, and by turning to the Higher One, rushing to the pyramid of perfection, trying to perform tasks to the best of his abilities. By doing that, a painter, creating a work of art, seems to grant his soul (he makes himself a victim) and directs his soul and thoughts in order to CO — CREATE WITH THE SUPERIOR ONE, and, in response, he fills himself with energy of the higher substance, in the state of prayer:

“I am in Thee, O, Superior One, and Thau, stay with me with all your might!”

To my mind, that is the only possible way to survive and to continue the creator` s life in the conditions when it is nearly impossible, evading from the wrong ways, to know the method of painting a picture, so that the spectator could be able to accept it within one` s unconsciousness and to understand:

— the cold love of a northern autumn plumb sky;

— the prodigal Son heels` s odor, eternal work of the “night watch”, the archetypes of our existence on Rembrandt` s pictures,

— to feel the “aroma” of a Christ` s trip tunica, covered with dust, himself sitting in a desert, as we see him on (late XIX century Russian painter) Nikolai Nesterov` s picture, a Russian painter of genius.

— to hear the clang of shackles and to see the dust of Moscow — Vladimir road, the road that saw so may Russian people in fetters.

— to perceive the wicked lie of the crowd and the prayer of a sinner on Polenov` s painting “Christ and a sinner” and an absolute reality of the existence on Ivanov` s greatest painting “Christ coming to the people”.

— And, finally, to feel the tenderness of soul and body of Venus being born on Botticelli` s picture.

An impulse to my serious creative work was given by the impressions, from one side, of the unbelievable beauty of Russian nature, the genuine one, untouched by the “man` s” hand, and from the other side, — these were my shock sensations, that I felt among the sunk and semi — destroyed temples with altar parts fallen, that can be clearly seen helplessly by the red torn body parts among the sunk and completely rotting timber, eaten by the beetles. And once upon a time the forest was blooming and chanting in the vivid Russian nature temple.

May be, it is namely because of that, during all my conscious creative life, I have been visiting my images of protest and discordance with violence and the muting action of new time, the Rock of missions, changing the natural contents of the existence spheres, natural harmony of sounds and colors. It is for that reason that in the 80-ies of the last century I could not begin to paint seriously, after all that I have seen in my numerous travels.

I still remember the birches` golden leaves falling down, them being conscious of not being able to grow up to become a true high and beautiful tall tree, being on a temple` s destroyed roof, whether it be in Vologda` s taiga or in the heart of Russia. One of the destroyed temples still stays now on the shore of Undozero. And out of all frescoes, there is still only one in altar part — the flying little ant in the double ring of the spiritual existence sphere. Another temple has remained not restored until recently in Shevernevo village in Tula region. But, today, there are services in this church. The nouveau — riche Russians sponsored the temple restoration works.

During the War, several enemy projectiles hit the temple, but did not explode, because of the Highest One` s wish. But after the war the non — men still destroyed the belfry, they said it was for having the brick in order to build the cow — sheds. But all the same there was no chance to build them. Very solid, reinforced by the faith was the solution used for making bricks to build temples in Russia.

In Soviet war times, the transformed “body” of the Saint Trinity temple served as a smith` s workshop. The anvil, surprisingly resembling the table in Rublev` s painting of Trinity and the horn were staying in the altar centre part. Then, in the 80 — ies, the temple` s remains were used as a stall for the post gelding horse.

At that time I made a painting “The Land of vokobich people”. Some time ago I made a present of it to the Andoma village council (the Andoma cemetery old style).

I still remember and I see clearly the unrestrained impulses of children — my son and his young companion girl, that tried to climb the semi — destroyed temple` s windowsill, saving us, together with an animal staying in the composition middle, having big and humid eyes. That was a tired horse.

The children` s glances were looking to be set free, through the twisted grating towards the haze over the river and the emerald cupolas of common willows, sunk in the rising sun warm beams. They just wanted to get rid of these bloody vaults covered with soot of man` s madness, to get far of the glance of the staring eyes of the post horse, the one bringing the news and mini — news of the world of 80 — ies of the XX century, from the birth of Christ. It seemed that the children` s souls were greedily looking throw metal grilles the curing beauty` s energy of the middle Russian plain, chosen carefully by the Russian painter Polenov to finish his career after years he spent in different countries abroad and in Moscow.

One of the most vivid impressions of my sojourn in Vologda region, during the traditional readings, devoted to the great Russian — slav poet Nikolai Kliuyev, was my visit to the poet` s motherland and the village of Mukachevo, that stays at the taiga` s end at the Andoma river shore, close to the Andoma cemetery that has grown up during the perestroika years much more that village of the same name. It is there that lie, among which the white birch trees, the red rocks, having the blots of the lime — white birds of the souls over which there was no funeral service made, the old believers and women of the prisoners. The brick blocks — remnants of once — powerful temple walls and these white birds sitting on them, having become still, petrified and are trying in vain to ascend to heaven.

I shall never be able to forget neither the remnants of the exploded temple, nor “anthropogenic deposits”, made of the remnants of Vologda women concentration camps on the Volga — Baltic Sea channel shore. The transparent shadows of the women prisoners can hardly be seen, but they still wander at that place day and night, showing here and there their small skulls, that are nearly childish ones, praying to perform a funeral service for them and, finally, to bury them, and to repent. They carry the still — unborn Russian children in their hands and white saint birches and monk — looking spruces whisper them the fairy — tales, lulling before they fall asleep, waiting for the revival of the new Russia, washed up by rains and tears.

The strawberries grow surprisingly well here and they are enormous. Besides, one can see among the young and rosy birches, the putrefied remains of the barracks and not — a — New — Year — pine — trees, decorated with the garlands of a still hard barbed wire of the fallen and putrefied from time influence camp barriers.

The violet campanulas seemed to jingle, enmeshed in web by the strokes of tenacious spider` s limbs, rushing after defenseless little flies and gnats. Damned ones, they hummed. The light and shadows are shot with green among the brushwoods of cow — wheat, and fell on the uneven wall of punishment cell, made of the white lime — stone, within the depth of the pure, and clear — looking birch woods, that grew up after Stalin` s death. The light and shadows gaily sparkled by their green — dollar — like tints with little guarded windows.

Then, even in distant and still recent years of the Gorbachov` s glasnost, I saw an image unexpectedly. And I made a little study in pastel. A white horse is hanging in the air with its legs upside down under the vaults of semi — destroyed church. On the water surface, that inundated all the visible space in the breach, with the remnants of the dried and putrefied trees, a child` s toy swims (a plastic — made elephant) — an empty case for the New Year sweets, rumpled newspaper. Then, to tell you the truth, an illsome — saxophone, that comes from nowhere, glistening with gold — like shine. The last bend of it has become so tense due to the jazz` neigh, that it has taken the form of a woman chest and other intimate places of a woman` s body, that have been hidden ones some time ago. And a white horse, unnaturally bended, suspended by its legs, is stretching out to its food, the only one that remained, the food “at grass”. Nevertheless, the person that plays the illsome saxophone with his fleshy lips cannot be seen. I still don` t know him, even now.

A boy and a girl, having climbed a high semi — destroyed windowsill, unconsciously, instinctively, as once upon a time, in real events, they saved themselves on an island, that was lost among an endless ocean that has inundated all the lies` puddles.

This is an old image that I got of the passing XX — th century. It has been transformed in symbols and achievements of modern art of the XXI century, that I saw in TV recording of Biennale in Venice as an unconditional masterpiece made in an image of an enormous sculpture of a white horse really suspended by its legs with chains to the church` s vault. This masterpiece` s esthetics and ethics recognized by the modern art supervising professors are evident. A youngster and a girl ride on a white crucified horse under the temple vault.

What else can you say concerning the achievement and sense of this masterpiece of modern vanguard, that drives the young generation to the kingdom of permissiveness. It really reflects and determinates another world, a peculiar one and the existence goals.

In 2009 I was waiting for the beginning of a scientific conference on Crete island. I found myself under the avalanche of info on the future or else the one on the past, but, most probably, on both of them. Then I came to know that Plato as well as the strong people of the ancient world, eager for knowledge, concealed it form the ordinary people, tried to get on the island and spend long months in the cave there — ancient heathen temple, that remained untouched from the previous civilization, having a hope to know their future.

The days and sleepless nights were windy, the sea was stormy. The land and the sky moaned in the noise of a surf of dirty — violet — dead — seawood — full waves, showing me these images. It seemed, that The Living Land itself sang with this moan its lullaby songs on the past and the eternal. It is stronger than Man and mankind, but it still loves him, although it was covered with a scab — a cancer tumor of the present civilization, too much interested in “adultery” for money at all price, committed by the people that have forgotten the state of health of their mothers, to say nothing of their feeding Mother — the Earth. The Living Land itself will surely cure its lost son of the civilization illness and sins, that has begun to give birth to the machines more than to the God` s children. It will surely cure him in a way or so. Just now, a man, trying to penetrate within a multi — kilometer Earth` s living body, he has understood all the greatness and wisdom of the plan, that had created it, and its immeasurable force, that is so powerful and reasonable in its desire to defend the harmony of the whole company of those who live on the Earth.

Then, being in Crete, I hardly had time enough to do the sketches at nights, sleepless, literally being exhausted, fighting the coming waves of the Info. And I gave a name to all that: The Myths of Crete. On one of the graphic sheets there was a bull, swimming towards the salvational rocky shore among the roaring ocean of the waves. A huge and mighty creature was holding on its horns the body of a man and the one of a woman. They were growing faint.

Another picture represented a girl, singing a song in a hard metal rock style — an apotheosis of musical creativity of the “iron age”, she came from Rome and worked as an animator. Every evening she would sing to the international audience, tired from the rest. So, she came on the scene in shorts in large — scale black —and — white check, wearing red bands higher than her knees, entertaining the multilingual public. She always was cock — sure, she was standing her feet planted apart, holding herself on enormous sharp spike heels of her massive dancing shoes with black bows. On the sketch she still balances on the edge of a stormy sea, taking a firm stand into something which is humid and warm, all turned towards the dark waves of the Crete surf.

She is holding a mike in her hand, thrown into the Past. That microphone reminds me of a small child` s head, by its form and size. She has indicated us a space of the endless, roaring sea, as if she was showing us the next way to follow, by another hand, straight like a sword. It is there that the mighty bull is swimming with a sure and peaceful smile on his face, he does not fear the abyss of the sea storm. The bull has already stolen Europe. Might he saved her? There was another graphic sheet, called “A blue — bull` s morning”.

I would like to stress that the Crete shores` sea color is surprisingly different from the colors of the sea — shore of Egypt, Montenegro, continental Greece, Tunisia — all those countries that I visited, where I had a chance to make sketches.

I remember quite well, that when I was strolling on the Crete` s shore, looking for a theme, I was grasped by my studying the nuances of color and form of the seething streams, an idea came to me that a layer of the rocks going away to the sea, in front of the richly decorated private villas, surprisingly reminds me of color and form of a wing of an angel, that once fell on the Earth. These luxurious, rich men` s villas, having high fences, were standing on it, not far away from the edge of the sea, where a brown and red rock was calmly sinking, having deep cracks, with seaweeds and cut — through the millenniums — with a tireless breakers of endless sea bitter waters, bitter like tears.

The next day I went there once more, but having ready my painter` s case, fore — armed to work en plein air and, as usual, at once, as if I was breathing out all that I had accumulated, I drew a graphic sheet and a landscape.

On the picture that I finished through a white night, trying to understand all that had been told to me, there was a stormy sea and in the sea, nearly at the horizon, among high, sharp and foamy waves there were enormous cows, swimming towards the rock of a fallen angel, and with care, holding on their horns the fainted bodies of people, somewhat alive.

I was standing against the wind, holding my painter` case. Wild wind` s gusts tried constantly to throw into the sea the pasteboard, pasted with sackcloth. I worked and struggled with the wind, standing on the stone wing of a fallen angel. Then I failed to finish my work. Because of the consequences of permissiveness life, lived according to the principle “all included”, strong wind and the spectators, speaking a foreign language. But, according to the words of the passersby, that have seen an oil sketch on the Crete` s shore, I succeeded in rendering the intense struggle tragedy.

High in the sky, over the stormy sea, overwhelmed with splashes and white foam with a medley, made from fragments of dark — violet seaweeds, that are mercilessly broken by the tireless surf against the wing of a fallen angel, a strong and bold person has grasped an enormous fish by its tail. That was a fish looking like a whale. He appeared, as if he were a while dove, that came flying like in a wise Russian old — believers ”Pigeon` s Book”, out of the dark plumb cloud and, quite ready for the battle, he went towards an enormous cancer — looking being. The well — fed beings, indifferent because of that reason, were surprised, when looking, as if it were “from the sea — bottom”, from their caves were watching that strange action.

Then at night — time, till I was completely exhausted, I went on creating the sketches of the illustrations to my “XXI century modern mythology”. And here is one of its themes. In the left side of a sketch that reminds for its form and color the glass of a French demi — sec wine, there is a girl on the rope, hardly balancing, with the help of unnaturally long hands, that remind of the sea — gull` s wings. The rope is disappearing by a space laws` rough and untreatable hyperbola. A girl goes on a two — sided sharp knife` s edge. A handle is made of rib` s bone. The form of knife` s handle reminds a human body, bended in awful sufferings and tied steel rope.

The knife ` s handle is ready to cut the eye to the wise being that is enduring everything, this being` s face seems to be cut of a live shore rock. It is looking with its eyes wide open, and tears fall down into the waves, that have already over — filled up the space of the two of the eventual spaces of existence. Whereas in the right segment of the sketch` s space, cut by a hyperbola, one may see the contour of the Eiffel tower, on top of which there is a red — and brown cock sitting and in anguish crying of salvation.

The Eiffel tower is a symbol of a triumph of impetuous rise of the iron civilization, a lighthouse for a Titanic, that saw its iceberg too late at night. Day and night are on the same drawing. Besides the image of a shore rock, there is a tree, having white leaves and bended trunk, as it is usually the case with the birches, that grow at the edge of a ravine or else in abnormal zones. I saw such birches, growing not higher, but alongside the earth, on the shore of Onega lake, in the zones of its open — cast of the global fracture and on the slopes of the “Love — mountain” of an ancient volcano` s crater on the South of the Urals, in Arkhaim, a sacred place of an ancient civilization.

In the roots of a white tree on that sketch one can clearly see the outline of a woman face and rusty steel rails` fragments, curled around the neck. Evidently, this was a metaphysic image of what I once saw in Vologda region on the place of an ex — concentration camp for women prisoners, that constructed the Volga — Baltic Sea channel after the War. I saw it after the avalanche, that passed after the Gorbachov` s glasnost and perestroïka.

Then, in the 80 — ies of the XXth century, when I was studying the consequences of the “Avalanche”, that had opened the traces of the once — to — be crimes, hardly covered with the sand, but not annihilated, we, my friend who was a geologist, and I, suddenly heard Rock music, a howling saxophone. Then we saw a white, enormous, three — deck ship, that was with difficulty squeezing oneself into the perineum of the channel` s riverbed among the hills of the Russian land` s stretched body, in the depth of the “drunk” pine — trees forest. Just some time ago harmonious trees were staying on top of a mountain and were singing on the wind like masts for “scarlet sails of romantic dreams, aspirations for the heartwarming future”. The clouds were quivering with their pastel feathers, just like angels with their wings, whether it was in a dream or in reality, I don` t know. And somebody` s childish, naïve dreams left flying forever with the scarlet sails, that now were semi — transparent, amid the blue sky, and irretrievably.

I remember well indeed, what we heard then, through the deafening music, somewhat strange and awful whisper of a forest. Prayers of the monk — like spruces, swung and nearly fell down, because of the avalanche of the times of “perestroïka and glasnost” and unwillingly they have shown under their roots of emerald — green moss — the showing up white bones and cranes of the builders of the Volga — Baltic sea channel. It happened to us not far from the city, having a strange name of Vytegra, right over the cross of the global geological fractures, coming from the heart of Russia right to the West towards the granite shield.

A three — deck ship, having a name like “The Soviet Constitution”, squeezed itself throw the knolls westwards and the Rock music stopped.

We were staying there, on the precipice. There was a boy with us, wearing the pioneer tie, a bugler, who made optimistic sounds of pioneer empyrean dawn. And a mighty elk, having huge branchy horns, was blared over the taiga its menacing song of the wild beast love — a war between the male competitors in order to possess a female elk…

Only a huge yacht lacks in my recollections. Because at that time the yacht of Abramovitch was not seen yet from the perestroïka` s crucible. But then we saw it recently on TV in all of its beauty and might, having come, evidently, to transform “The Russian Art” on the Biennale in Venice in its armored seducing ”body”.

Once more I come back to the metaphysical in the series of my graphic sheets, devoted to the modern mythology.

On the sketch, a girl in a chess — like check shorts — really, an androgyne being, having two faces, hidden under multi — color Venice carnival masks. An androgyne being, it looks from under the mask in the past, and from under the other mask in the future… We, probably, shall never see its real face. Somebody is hiding it carefully, and here comes a big white bird to meet us. In the right side of the sketch I see a Paris night, slightly calmed down after the joyful time.

There was a time, in 1999, when my wife, my son and I came to see Paris. It was, when summer season was in full swing. In our tourist group there was a girl from Kiev, that was constantly wearing the same orange dress, or it seemed to be scarlet — yellow one. She kept writing down all she was listening to into her big writing pad, paying no attention on her young and mustached husband. I remember that then I bought in the Louvre a lot of colors for a very considerable sum of money. That was practically all that I bought of material things in secular Paris. In the greatest temple of the earth my wife and I bought a crucifix. I used these pure and bright colors to do the glazing on the picture called “A Nose, as a pretext for thinking in the declining years of the time of Piscies” (a kind of Tzereteli` s imitation) and drew one of my latest works — a picture in indigo — blue, crimson and sunflower color — “A Separation of the Soul”.

I recall the last night I spent in Paris. We were in a bateau — mouche, this toy ship. Me, I was tired of exhausting heat, my wife Olga in indigo — blue dress and my son Peter, we were following the current of dark — blue Seine, among perfumes and sounds of the night city, that was also tired of the heat and importunate hordes of tourists, everyone nagging in his own language. And I inhaled the air of night Paris. That is similar, I think, to breathing in the beloved woman clothes` s aroma.

On top of Eiffel tower, that was colorfully lighted up there was no “red cock” sitting, but there was a huge indicator board with figures, showing the number of days left before the end of the century and the new millennium. Everybody then already was indoctrinated that the reasonability of global computer network was not a sufficient one. That they can mix up something and the financial system will collapse, what can be more important? And, so, what will it be like, the next century?

We were on board a ship at night, among great city marvelous cathedrals, among the lights and emerald color greenery scarlet flashes, having a puff of the night, illuminated by an artificial light, and it was hanging down towards the water, from the high stone walls. All three of us at night. On a small ship. Paying no attention to anyone by our side. It seemed to me all the time, that in the dark blue night Paris sky there was a girl, flying, in her bright tired sun color dress. She was flying and writing all the time something in her little writing pad, perhaps, not to forget anything ever.

I want to visit the city of my future, the one I visit so often in my dreams. The White City of knowledge, the one of great and eternal art, the one having cathedrals and castles, Great Truths` depository. Before the entrance to it there are huge columns and a severe rectangle with transparent and pure light blue water.

I want to go to “Paris” in order to pick up and to quench from the eternal vivifying river of great art — not for the rotation of millstones of bloody world revolutions, but for the sake of the Great and Eternal art and the creativity of the evolution.

So, these are our dreams. But life is an earthly sinner, it has gone on and goes on as it should have gone and as it has to go. The intellectual scale, that is what thinking and intelligent persons have picked up and still pick up in soft amphoras, them being preoccupied by their carrier and wages, the world revolutions leaders` night pollutions — for making a communion. Other people, more ordinary ones, have collected and still collect the red substance in the bowls from the “cannon fodder”. This time, for whose sake and for what sake? For those, who are three per three, and they are sitting together somewhere, they bring, everyone what he has, majestically and obsequiously to a person that is always alone and who is sad, for he knows his predestination and future.


I make a regular correction in my first book, may be the last one. Autumn is to come, and the evening and the Sun, tired of bringing light during this hot summer, slightly goes down, behind the horizon, from Tula region it seems to go straight behind Moscow. Its beams have illuminated with their soft honey — like color the clouds, going low, filled with rain. They are in front of my house, surprisingly low, right over the field, over the “monastery field”, where once upon a time, half a century ago, there was an old — believers` s monastery. And it seemed to me, that soon, very soon, from there, from behind the blue cloud, there has come to us a white bird, and another “Pigeon Book” has fallen from the sky, not on the Calvary, but on the emerald warm and saint Russian land, washed by the hot sunshower.