Evolution of the Mask Series – Part 1

“In the beginning was the Word… ” – I disagree. In the beginning was the Thought, and the Thought was with Art, and the Thought was Art.

The word is just another imperfect medium for thought. It is up to us to decide, which medium to use to interpret, materialize and communicate the thought. As a painter – my choice is obvious and mostly I refrain from too many words. But it’s a multimedia world and in response to a few requests I will employ a number of words to shed some light on the Great Unmasking series and its evolution, which looks interesting when I align the masks in a chronological order.

In the beginning was the thought embedded in the initial painting of this series – an auto portrait that I did in 2015 and the only painting in this series, where no one has argued that it was not I. What I see is a man resting his heavy head on his hand in contemplation. Here, the body is the mask for thought. An auto portrait, as the body itself, is a treasure-house for privacy and I would feel much more naked if I put up all my thought on public display then if I would find myself without any clothes on in front of a crowd. This is what this auto portrait means to me at the moment. However, I am not going to lie: this connection came in hindsight – three years after painting it. There was no genius idea that I sought to realize on canvas. It is the viewer-I that gets a certain understanding for an artwork that the painter-I has created. The painter-I and the viewer-I are two very different models for being.

The series didn’t feel complete, there was no beginning until I’ve considered the Autoportrait as a part of the series and its initial seed. Paradoxically, the most recent addition is this painting that predates all others in this line.

To share with you a little secret – that was the first time ever that I’ve painted using a palette knife. It felt good – so nice, quick, clean, crisp and looked surprisingly fine to me.

Little that I knew – it just was not enough. Too simple was the thought of portraying a physical shell, a figure that anyone can see as it is. So as it happens quite often – the circumstances lent a helping hand. To be honest, I just got into an argument with my wife and I was just angry as hell! Why? It was probably something ridiculously trivial and I would not have been able to recall it in a day, but…

Dammit, I painted anger! This really felt like grabbing a monumental emotion with my bare hands like it was a heavy boulder, picking it up and pushing it way above my head, perceiving the pressure in every vertebra of my spine, my knees and feet, my shoulders, elbows, palms to launch it with all the might I could imagine onto the canvas! Quick, violent, intuitive, simple yet powerful smears of vivid colors gave birth to the Friday Guy (it was a friday – the name was evident). That must have been an act of self-inflicted art therapy. I painted from within and when I was done it was good and I was good.

Eureka! Here it hit me like a lightning. It was a mask that I took off and realized how much I gained by doing so. The concept for a series of paintings seemed as clear at once as Adriatic waters between Dalmatian isles. The primary goal became to capture another part of self for every day of the week. I wanted to see, what I would come up with. And I still do.

The fact that I can simply do this entertains me greatly, because just a short while ago I would put on a shirt, tie and suit every monday morning and go to work to an office, make the company goals my own and make sure that my teams did just the same. A sort of tunnel vision that structured life into its flow, which is good in many ways, but that was another role to play, another mask to wear. I failed to see the light in the end of that tunnel, instead I held up a burning match at arm’s length to follow it for years. Just for as long I failed to see that there exist as many other ways as one can imagine. That was the mask of Monday Guy I wore.

I bequeath this mask of the routine to hundreds of millions of people who wear it in good faith around the world. They make the world tick as it does and I trust fully and pray that they will continue to do so. Among them are many of my good friends and great acquaintances with whom it is always a pleasure to reflect on such ideas over many pints of some good craft brew. Some love their roles, some write their own scripts and the Monday Guy mask may not apply any more, some loathe – whatever… Work hard, play hard – is the philosophy of quite a few hard-working ladies and gents I know.

One thing that quite a few of them (and I) may find in common after long conversations and too many drinks is the Sunday Guy – a mask that everyone is surely conscious of, when wearing. As blue as sunday can ever be. That’s for the color, though: blue, black and white. I’ve simplified the form and painted with a minimum of bold strokes to emanate an ancient timelessness and mystery like a giant Moai statue on the Easter Island – another association that appeared in retrospective. Yet, I am not made of stone and the feeling that all of this, good and bad, is here to stay sooner or later fades away like clouds in the skies.

The sky, no doubt, fascinates me. Clouds are wonderful and clear skies are amazing any time of year. I love looking up and seeing what’s going on in the world around me. Beautiful, light-hearted, light-blue – “the world is yours”, they tell me. And so it is – I won’t contest. That sounds quite romantic. And beauty is. As is the sky whenever and wherever. Yet, when you are in it – dozens of thousands of feet above the ground in an airplane (I envy pilots), you always find yourself surrounded by this beauty – so peaceful and calm above the clouds. Sometimes – in between of layers of clouds, where there is the sky – so clear and divine ahead, those clouds that seem like whipped cream below and above – mesmerizing… dreamy… divine…

There was a feeling of balance in everything as I was on a plane to Amsterdam. Right between such clouds it looked like there were two horizons. It was a Tuesday. But only when we were back in Kiev, have I thought about this. Maybe I am slow to recognize many a thing, but that’s just how it is. Making a sense of images and feelings requires time – sometimes years. Yet, hopefully, it is fruitful. This time around it was a bit faster as for a few weeks straight (only on Tuesdays, for some reason) this picture just reappeared in my mind. It was this idea of balance that didn’t let me go.

I kept imagining those two even, straight, well-defined layers separated by a few hundred yards of blue skyline – as if they were painted. Next Tuesday this transformed into the idea of a new look at balance – a new Yin & Yang of a personal kind. The Tuesday Guy was born. So solid, yet transparent. So dark, yet letting through all the brightness. So new, yet looking like he’s aging thanks to the craquelure. A character of his own. sock fancy coupon

The character that always exists and does not shut his eyes. The character that loves, what he does. The character that does not care, whether his embodiment is I or anyone else. The character that has the unquenchable thirst to create. The character that forgets about anything besides his… I forgot what…

Well, Tuesday past and it’s saturday night. I am on the balcony on my floor opposite from my flat. I see those street lights and cars from my fifth floor. Across the drive way is a nine story building that is a shabby dorm of some institution. Below me are a bunch of cars under the street lights. As lights keep going out in the dorm I feel that I am the only one awake and working. I don’t mind. I paint late into the night. It is a pleasure.

That is now – the moment that I always enjoy. This ever faster fleeting present – is life. The present is what fascinates me more and more throughout my life and my work. So I paint. I paint through good and bad, through wise and foolish, through all the colours. In the present I try to grasp the past and the future. But it seems that in the present moment itself there is no room for anything. It is a humble, elusive moment – always at a crossroads.