AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OR A CONVERSATION
WITH MY IMAGINARY VIEWER
“It constantly seems to me that I have failed
to do something the most important and whether
I will be able to do it some time. Painting is my
passion and inner need. It has always been this way.”
Yefim L.Rudminsky: born March 25, 1937, Kiev, USSR
Father: L.A.Rudminsky, killed in WW2
Mother: A.Y.Shapiro, Died, 1967
Wife: Klavdiya Y.Rudminsky
Daughter: Anna Y.Rudminsky
Education: Attended secondary and art schools.
Graduated from Kiev Art University, 1962,
Major: Architecture; Minor: Fine Art
Question: SOME WORDS ABOUT YOURSELF, PLEASE.
I would have to answer this in a kind of muddled or self-coquettish way, because I’ve never seriously examined myself, I am ashamed to admit, though half a century has passed.
Sometimes, when looking at the sky, I began to believe that the Lord wished me to be a poet, having endowed me with heightened impressionability, the susceptibility not only to comprehend true reality but also to experience it which is everything a poet needs. Or, perhaps, He suddenly considered all the sins of my previous lives and deprived me of ability "to burn the human hearts with a word" (Pushkin) and, with a merciful smile, let me go into the World of Art. Since then I have been concerned with painting, architecture (not merely for the sake of money), and… what else - who knows what for.
I was born in Kiev, Podol, Obolonskaya St. shortly before the war. During the war, together with my mother and her large family - sisters and children - I was evacuated to the village of Dobrynka near Stalingrad. Hunger and cold is what I particularly remember. My father was killed in the war. My mother was alive until 1967.
After the war, I went to secondary and then attended art school, which was supervised by the wonderful person and the great artist Abram S. Balazovsky. I consider him to be my most important Tutor. He will be the subject of my special memory later.
(Some of his art, and a book about him, is celebrated on the web site www.Balazovsky.com)
In 1954, with God’s help in the person of N.Glushchenko (the artist, who happened to pay attention to my works), I entered art school. In 1956 with God’s help (nobody being a promoter) I entered the Kiev College of Art, which I graduated from in 1962. This is my biography in brief. Some separate states of soul, not the dates, I remembered better. I was endowed with the ability not only to realize, to comprehend this world but rather to go through it, to undergo it. At times it’s difficult to analyze oneself. This world is dear to me with all its conflicting diversity and integrity. I feel the notion of integral time and space.
DO YOU HAVE FAVORITE ARTISTS, POETS?
Sure. I constantly discovered them and made them my spiritual refuge. For instance, while a student I discovered Marquet and when graduated from the College, I discovered “the accursed" French poets. I’ve never searched out for them - they used to appear before me by themselves. So, Baudelaire (in V. Levik`s translations) became my favorite handbook: he rescued me from the spiritual loneliness (I’ve been suffering that for some time) and, when I was going through any fit of depression, he helped to sound as a kind of organ music:
I apprehend reality as if a dream.
I fall into the pits aspiring to heights.
But there’s a voice: As long as hope can gleam
The beauty’d bring the daring reason back to rights".
I regard art as constant throughout time, a steady stream through past, present and future – subject only to the continuing mystery of existence. My most distinguished feature is the ability to become assimilated with the soul of every artist which is of interest for me at the given moment, and take his creativity as being of my own.
WILL YOU TELL OF YOUR DEVELOPMENT AS AN ARTIST?
These are high -sounding phrases. I don’t have any program. I envy these artists who just having a look at something are ready to realize it immediately. It’s more complicated for me. I’m more used to being mysteriously engaged in contemplation, wondering what will come out of it. I love the process itself as I feel it as the way of life, and if something reveals itself, it is just a matter of chance.
YOU CREATE BY WAY OF SERIES. WHY SO? PLEASE, TELL US.
Generally, the finished works are being classified. Names are, of course, symbolic but the images and characters in the different Series may be similar.
About the Series “Faces, Images, Moods”:
These are frank, undefended images; states similar to meditation, pondering; presence of absence; Immersion in the world of poetry, music, special moods; being self-immersed.
This group is somewhat spiritual, moral or rather philosophical. Characters look not so much at a viewer, but rather inside themselves, as if touching the mysteries of their being - and, when you happen to meet a straight reproachful expression, you’ll also notice compassion and deep-rooted pain; a lot of serene sorrow and melancholy; ability to be compassionate.
My Prophets always appeal to people and bring good tidings to the world. (Anyway, I’d like it to be this way).
For the reason to avoid specific events, at least in the past. Any literal name, Job, Debora etc. is a specific story taken from the Holy Scripture. Incidentally, I often give the biblical names.
- It’s my memory of the deceased. I always sense them as being alive.
- This is the most dramatic one. These are often serene visions, dreams, or kaleidoscopic thoughts which make the terrifying reality and pain blunt just for a moment.
- Architecture, architecture in landscape, landscape painting.
- Eternal, never-to-be-divined mystery, gratitude to the Heavens for its then-now-tomorrow being.
“Korai and Caryatids”:
- Is the Series much similar to the above, the sensual-romantic one. It originated in 1977, in Odessa. The sea, numerous ships arriving from the different countries, reminiscences of Alexander Green, dim desires, and what is most important - suddenly, at the Odessa’s Caryatids of the old buildings, I’ve seen revived nostalgic images. The expressed definite action, dialogue, mirage ("Procession") - nothing specific was taking place. It’s just plunging into the emotionally fascinating, metaphorical reality as if into myth. Naive and sincere demonstration of feelings.
In addition to Series, there are many landscapes - changeable moods, portraits.
Most recently I was fascinated, just magically absorbed in the “Kiev in miniatures” Series. Most of them were to depict Kiev of our childhood, a Kiev which existed no more or was dramatically perishing, the Kiev of our nostalgia. My work on the Series is unsteady, mainly during night-time, as I lack other possibilities, having finished by day light, making color correction.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD ABSTRACT ART and VANGARD?
For me such definitions do not exist. It would be better to speak about the world of the artist and the method of its expression.
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH AS TO CLASSIFY AN ARTIST’S BELONGING TO SOME OR OTHER NATIONALITY? DO YOU CONSIDER M. CHAGALL, A. TYSHLER, Ch. SUTIN TO BE JEWISH ARTISTS?
First of all, I’d like to notice, and some may object perhaps, that I’m to my very marrow an internationalist. By no means do I deny my national heritage. Every person is given it at birth and it’s no accident. With all due respect to Chagall, Tyshler and Sutin, I consider Rembrandt to be the most Jewish painter. Not only because of his Biblical pieces but also his definite portraits (especially those of the second half of his life) are penetrated with the Old Testament mystery.
IF ONE LOOKS AT YOUR PORTRAITS (IMAGES) THERE SEEMS TO BE AN IMPRESSION THAT THEY WERE CREATED BY A BELIEVER. IS THAT SO?
I can’t say that I was lucky enough to catch that big significant fish (belief) in order to release all the small fry. It appeared in my sight somewhere some time long ago, and if happened to see a mirage, it was enough to turn over my consciousness.
Am I a religious person? I believe that the soul of every individual - whether at the conscious or subconscious level - longs for the Lord. Unfortunately, there are some times and circumstances when God seems "sealed with seven seals" for us, as if He has forsaken us. There is always a "life-buoy" for souls who suffer in the hardest way. Morality, penetrating a complexity of the Being, I consider to be the core of the Faith.
WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE LAND IN WHICH YOU WERE BORN?
I’m sure it can’t be a matter of chance (I believe in the law of karma). I don’t imagine my future, but I can say for sure that I never wanted to be a short-lived tourist in the land I was born.
IN OVER 25 YEARS YOU WERE NOT EXHIBITED VERY OFTEN. DO YOU FEEL SLIGHTED? IS IT DISCRIMINATION?
I’ve never minded it. It was of no importance to me. My being concerned with art (somebody may consider it to be words) never depended upon recognition, it’s just my way of life. Anyway, I believe in Fate. Job may serve as an example.
I’m sure that if one will knock at a door persistently, the door will open sooner or later. Myself, I’ve got neither time, nor energy for it. (Or perhaps, God might bless me?). I would be happy to have the 6 square meters (20 feet approx) living space where merely an easel and a drawing board could be adjusted. All the rest is a vanity.
I don’t encourage those who, owing to yesterday’s wounded pride (if even in fact happened), try to make their career.
“My guilty look and flurried word
Are turned to heavens with a prayer
Those heavens might forgive me my transgressions.
I acquiesce and speak with gods in silent den,
But there they are the same old passions
And there’s no peace again”.
Translated by Lidia Slavinska
The Poetry is translated from Russian by Les Herasymchuk
P.S. Yefim Rydminsky passed away 1 year later at age 57.