The exhibition of Irina Machitski's paint and graphic works “The Music of the Spheres” in CHA, October, 15 – November, 10 2002

The Central House of Artists, Moscow

Irina Machitski
The exhibition “The Music of the Spheres”

October, 15 – November, 10 2002

Installation, Irina Machitski's exhibition 'The Music of the Spheres'


Natella Voiskunski - Irina Machitski paints “The Music of the Spheres”

“The Music of the Spheres” … To give such a title to an exhibition of a “silent” kind of visual art should be really meaningful, and no less bold for the contemporary artist or viewer alike. It corresponds to Pythagoras’s “the Music of the Spheres”. The ancient Greek philosopher meant that all things in Nature are harmoniously made, and that different sounds must harmonize.

Irina Machitski 'Eternal Truth'
Irina Machitski "Eternal Truth", polyptych, mixed media on canvas, 250х250, 2000

Irina Machitski’s pictures are painted in truly bold colors, with light that comes as if from the inside. The thin silver graphic lines and geometrical figures - the triangles - resemble the musical instrument of the same name. And silver-clear sounds seem to be created by the delicate touch of the brush. Let those whose eyes are open to perception of art hear the Music of the Spheres resonating from her canvases.

Irina Machitski’s paintings are a vivid demonstration of the synesthetic nature of some artistic personalities. Machitski is really able to bring together music and color, non-figurativeness and light, unconsciousness and freedom of the artistic self-expression, intuition and improvisation.

The series “The Music of the Spheres” might be perceived as something absolutely new in Machitski’s creative activity, so different is it from “The Cloud of Unknowing” (her previous exhibition). Yet her “Spirits” exhibited at the 2001 show were and are those grains of sand (the title of one of her canvases is “The Spirit of the Earth and the Spirit of the Sands”) which form today’s crystals - such canvases as “Prayer”, “Anthrax”, “Forgive us our trespasses”… The abstract landscapes created by the artist’s fantasy are painted at once and are built on harmonious interactions of color. This cycle was continued by Machitski’s canvas “The Orb of Cognition” (the alternative title - “The Tunnel of Reality”).

“There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st
But in his motion like angel sings
Still guiring to the young-eyed cherubims”
Shakespeare, “Merchant of Venice”, V,1.

The English polysemantic word “orb” hits the idea, intuitively realized by the artist, and purposely used by the playwright. Because “orb” means sphere, as well as a ball, a star or a planet, an eye or a disk. The attentive and interested viewer can really distinguish all these above mentioned objects, and meanings, in her paintings. It should be noted that both the titles of the painting given by the artist reflect at least a double-variant perception of the work. Masses of color as masses of energy flood from the canvas, and the viewer’s eye is caught by the motion depicted in the painting - either reaching for the orb of cognition, or drawn by the stormy movement into the tunnel. Here there is some relevance also to Plato, who said that first God created a Man in the form of a sphere, incorporating two bodies and two sexes.

Color is the leading and most meaningful element in Machitski’s artistic activity. It prevails and dominates the artist’s creative thinking. There are no special light effects in her painting, rather the colors seem to be transparent and illuminated from the inside, producing the effect of color glass.

The prominent Russian painter Vladimir Weisberg defined very keenly the three main types of color perception: short (or momentary), prolonged and permanent. He spoke of the so-called “unseen painting” by which he understood contemplation and harmony: the most attractive element in visual art is that element which we cannot see, but unconsciously feel. Something mysterious, for which no logical or common sense explanation exists. Irina Machitski’s paintings are meant for at least such as “prolonged” perception. Who will dare to speak about something “permanent”?!

And here we reach, or at least come closer to, an understanding of Machitski’s creativity. She is undoubtedly an artist whose creative activity is greatly influenced by music, or even - in some cases - directly inspired and encouraged by it. The triptych “The Cloud of Unknowing” was inspired by the Fifth Symphony of Shostakovich and some works exhibited at “The Music of the Spheres” were created while listening to Stravinsky’s “The Fire-Bird”.

Though usually the artist does not live in a verbal context, some are very particular about the titles they give to their works. Machitski belongs to this minority. But the titles given to her works are not the key to a door behind which a viewer might find some direct answer to cognition of the artistic ideas. Her titles are a hint only, stimulating the viewer’s fantasy.

Machitski’s poly- or multi-layer paintings are matrixes, or, if we paraphrase today’s popular Web terminology - hypertext-paintings, each part of which either singly or as a whole is meant (if not for a “permanent”) at least for a “prolonged” analytic contemplation. Such are her “Refuge”, “The Breath of Rhythms”, “The Field of Mars”, “Epidemic of Hatred”, “Unexpected Meeting”. Her abstractions are not abstractions at all: the more attention the viewer gives her pictures, the more “figures” appear to emerge. Looking into the canvases, here or there a face or figure, a flower or a shadowy silhouette of a night city seem to appear…

Machitski’s series of round (?=92cm) non-figurative paintings provoke the idea that such a form - that of the ring - was chosen by the artist to draw attention to the fact that an abstract or non-figurative round piece of art is multi-meaningful and might have no top or bottom, left or right. Thus they are “mobile” even in a static position.

The series of such round paintings numbers a dozen, suggesting a circle of the zodiac. Twelve months, twelve life-stories colored and composed in accordance to certain uncertain associations and allusions of the painter. The series starts with the canvas “Inspired Hearts”, followed by “Mirages”, “The Flight of Thought”, “The First Kiss”, “The Pearl of Love”, “Fire-Mist”, “The Shadow of Doubt”, “The Call”, “Unity of the Hearts”, “Gravity”, “Mystery”. Taken as a whole, they can be “heard” by a creative viewer as a melody resonating in the heart of the artist - a melody composed by painting-notes…

What kind of music does Machitski paint, then? Once a poet said that there was no point in explaining music with words, otherwise music would prefer words to sound… But perhaps, if there are painter-composers then - to follow the paradoxical idea - music needs no sounds! The color inspired and enforced by artistic talent might cause emotions as strong as those of sound.

Irina Machitski paints the "Music of Color" - lyrical and joyful; sublime and earthbound; intimate and overcoming gravity; taking the viewer to the Cosmic spheres.

To paraphrase Plato, for Irina Machitski, “Painting is the highest form of music”.