Kyiv . Ya Gallery Art Center
09.07.2014 – 11.08.2014
Being in private relations with darkness, Eugene Ravsky presents a new series based on ancient Greek text of blind Homer who was used to the absence of light. It took Ravsky two years to get to The Iliad and its appearance date historically crosses with the Revolution of Dignity. In a bosom of the phenomenon known as “new old mastery", Ravsky had established certain statements that formed the consonance of three languages – Homeric epics, Caravaggio's manner of painting and openness of contemporaneity to presented topics. Ravsky carefully says: “I didn't want to slip into Fight Club. However, I've done it anyways, because these images are extremely strong. It was senseless only to re-illustrate The Iliad: I meant to show it through our times – to uncover heroes of those days".
The series presents war scenes: duels, negotiations, despair, quarrels, calls, threats, lamentation and deaths. Virmenska Street in Lviv became a locale, decorated as an unchangeable stage in the theater of war. Its red draperies serve as curtains and at the same time symbolize blood. The place is crowded, because there are more heroes than actors. Extras (everybody but one – a coffee shop's owner – is a Lviv artist) don't play roles of heroes, but of characters. For instance, in different pictures Ravsky's friend, painter Volodymyr Kostyrko appears as Patroclus, or Hector, or a Greek, or a Trojan soldier. Enumerated massacres (Massacre I, Massacre II) mask real warriors instead of presenting them as portrayed heroes. Instead of variety of arms one can see muscles in different stages of tension. Fighters' costumes (in the wide sense of a word “costume", which, for example, Borys Vian gives to a phrase “Adam and Eve's costume") form the only true face – the face of war.
First of all, Homer influences the power of images as the creator of archetypes that are able to teach generations and as the founder of battle aesthetics that Ravsky tries to imitate: “Homer describes battles in the most fascinating way. Where injuries were made, how they were made, how a knee relaxes or tenses... The majority of text says about this".
There are many reasons for this utterly up-to-date task to win the contest between paintings and an epic poem whose origin bases on a sound in darkness and inability to perceive images of reality. Some reasons can be found in the direct connection of heroic spirit with the Trojan War and impossibility to talk with confidence about the outlet into light and “peacetime" without such appeal. Author's own reason is the intention to fill gaps in absent plots. The Iliad, re-read by Italian writer Alessandro Baricco, also becomes a polyphonic addition to the series. Here Baricco offers two ideas of beauty: “Probably, The Iliadprompts that contemporary pacifism shouldn't forget about this beauty [of war] or deny it as if it never existed. The statement that the war is the hell only is a pernicious lie. <...> As for me true, prophetical and brave aspiration for peace consists in meticulous and hidden from others labour of million artisans who create anotherbeauty and light that doesn't burn with death. This is an utopian intention underlying incomprehensible faith in a human being. <...> Sooner or later we will be able to restrain Achilles from the cruelty of war. Neither fear nor horror will return him back. It will be another beauty – more sparkling than his own one, and endlessly softer" (Omero. Iliade, 2004).
Ungroundlessly adding Ravsky to the circle of such artisans, we have to state that the main theme of his Caravaggio-like series is not all-embracing darkness, but “soft light" –that another beauty to be seen by the strongest hero. However, he loses it in his own strength.
It is the light that gives an opportunity to see and power to act.