Sergey Falkin: “In each person of our generation lays the element of hypocrisy”
Sculptor Sergei Falkin is telling us about who is an artist and as restructuring “ate” one-third of a generation of Russians.
Stonecutter and sculptor Sergey Falkin, despite the journalistic education, had devoted his professional life to the sculptural plasticity: he worked in the Hermitage restoring Amber Room, then set up his own studio. Today his works are in the collections of the Hermitage, the Palace of Congresses and other museums.
“MD”: Is your main genre – Interior sculpture?
SF .: I don’t always know what genre include the product. Another thing that I clearly separate author’s, creative work and business. The stone-cutting is very material- and energy-intensive: the material is expensive, and work sometimes stretches for months. Consumers are just beginning to realize what the stone is: it costs money and it’s difficult in the process of carving. Thus, the product made of Jasper will be much more expensive than made of bronze. Jasper is inexpensive, but there is the complexity of the processing, the risks… I’m not talking about the cost of the artist, which depends on the fame, public relations, which is behind this.
This raises the question about the difference between art and decorative craftsmanship…
It’s a topic for serious monographs, with regard to the work of the stone – a theme also untilled. There is almost no serious analysts.
As I see it, the honest professional craftsman is valued higher than a bad artist. He creates objects that bring joy to people. And such a bad artist is not engaged in the creation of beauty (as aesthetics, not glamor), he “expresses himself” by going the easy way. Often, this self-expression doesn’t open the essence of man.
Before artist creates something, he plunges deeply into himself, trying to understand himself, his attitude, and on this basis creates something new. Of course, it can build on some well-known principles, but the primary thing is a reflection of his personality. A good craftsman is able to imitate it, and this is his profession. The artist is a special type of person, a special vision of the world, which can not be taught.
There is a stonecutter Felix Ibragimov. He is a professional geologist, but works as stonecutter in the genre of naive art. He is in love with the material, with stone, and he is so much acquainted with it. Although someone would call his works unprofessional and sometimes too naive, there is so much Felix in them! So he is a real artist, the artist of life.
What is the beauty for you – in art and in life? Is it a necessary component of art?
I would say, it isn’t necessary, but it is inevitable. The beauty we get to know from our childhood – nature gives us the example of it, and we don’t have another criterion. We see the kidney, when the leaf stretches to live with unprecedented power and comes into the world, breaking the shell. Then it becomes green, makes a noise on the wind and changes its color in the autumn, falls off, withers, dries up. The strength of the aging twists it into a tube, and in the spring when the snow melts, we find only the remainder of the sheet skeleton. And there, too, there is beauty – the beauty and the mystery of death.
If a person is surrounded by this from his childhood, he knows what the beauty is and he is able to perceive the painting, sculpture, music, poetry. Another matter, if it’s limited with the world of TV.
Being an artist, can you say that it’s not enough for our city?
We live in a fortunate city. It wasn’t changed as much as other Russian and world’s cities. For example, in Paris in 1969 were demolished the famous arches of Napoleon III times in the Marais. So in Europe too everything is carried away, cut down, lost, but still less than in Russia.
We have many objects, which can be easily seized include makeshifts – political stories put in favor of the era. They don’t have non-national, timeless values. Like hammers and sickles on the walls of buildings: somewhere they remained – well, thank God, it is unnecessary to destroy. For example, I like the statue of Lenin on the armored car at the Finland Station. It’s interesting plastically, also it has a good disposition, and if we don’t pay attention to the figure of Lenin, it is a good, interesting job. Even against the backdrop of an ugly, gray architecture of the Finland Station, it looks quite respectable. But there aren’t many all-sufficient stories like this.
Does something need to be changed in the city?
Of course, it is inevitable, because life goes on. There are things, successful from the aesthetic point of view, which can’t be changed: all that forms St.-Petersburg’s plane, described by Brodsky. But there are places, where modernity is needed.
And some of the buildings of the Soviet period should be remained: not only as a sign of history, but also because they already have created the landscape.
We take in the city life its part at least by the fact that we – the audience, and the inhabitants of this environment. And how can we make an influence to this process? This is the most complex and most sensitive issue. Because there are facing questions of aesthetics, clan interests, big and small business… And between us, the inhabitants of this environment, there are different interpretations: one likes it, others not. And, for example, I would not intervene in this process. I understand that because of it will change not much. I have another profession.
You are an artist by profession, but not for education…
Yes, I graduated from journalistic faculty. Although when I was a child, I had been drawing and writing poetry. Over time, you begin to understand not that your own destiny, but what’s within your powers. Where you can say, express something, and what warms you.
To deal with the lyrics, you need to be enthusiastic bystander of life, “idle sloth,” as Pushkin wrote. Over time, a sense of excitement from the world goes away, some sobriety appears. And here, in the material, missing vital naivety does not interfere.
But, actually, I’ve been doing this actively not so many years: lion’s share of my life, almost a third part, got on the period of Perestroika and was eaten by the necessity of orientation in the new space. Then there were lots of temptations in terms of business, authority. For me and my inner world, the years of Perestroika, almost fell out of life. As soon as co-operatives were allowed, I left the Amber Room. It seemed that you have an opportunity to break free, to create something new. It took many years to get rid of this illusion, pass the “course of a young soldier-capitalist”.
We were all from another generation, and in each person of our generation laid the element of hypocrisy: this is impossible, but if quiet is possible. Just so no one saw. And everyone knows all cases and with all condemn. A change psychology has matured person is very difficult. So many were broken, coming to power, enriching and falling to the bottom.
In your artworks you often appeal to the figure of Iosif Brodsky.
I am very interested in the personality of Brodsky, I am acquainted with his granddaughters and his biographer Valentina Polukhina. To his 65th anniversary I made the exhibition with the name “Venice of Brodsky” in the office of American Museum of Anna Akhmatova. There were drawings, murals, medal and sculpture with sink. It has a curious history. It was supposed to be a shell with a pearl – a portrait of Brodsky. I modeled it, remained in the workshop and then had left: it was half-formed and the other part was remained in plasticine. In my absence plasticine flowed, half sculpture died. Then I remembered the lines – “shell ear to me going on …” and others: you can often find sink in his poems. I decided to recede from the original idea and made a new composition – as though Brodsky listens to the sound of the sea.
I also have an idea to do a plaque dedicated to Brodsky, in the form of split stone slab, where the crack resembles the profile of the poet, and a split – an allegory of his destiny and personality. To start with I made a medal with his profile, now it’s in the Hermitage.