Just an Iris

Konstantin_Sotnikov_Iris

Chiaroscuro

An angel-like iris dawns luminously from an impenetrable dark milky way space: surreal, theatrical, baroque, mystical, capturing a sense of uncanny, sensational wonder. What a chamber play of physical plasticity and mysterious spatiality.  I am transfixed.
Violet-scented roots of dried iris flowers, with which wine was seasoned as a gift from the messenger of the gods: the goddess Iris, who led the souls of mortals along the path of the shining rainbow to the land of eternal peace. Oriental graves of the deceased, decorated with white or blue irises – a transitional flower from dark to light.

Holy event and everyday experience

“But what attracted me with full power, half asleep, dawning up out of the darkness, was the light blue flower with its broad, shiny leaves”, whispered Ofterdingen in Novalis’ famous 1800 novel – suffused with fairy tales, dreams, conversations and  songs – sleepwalking on his path to a higher, unifying totality of nature and man: “Nothing but the blue flower. For a long time he looked at her with indescribable tenderness. At last he wanted to approach her when she suddenly began to move and change; the leaves became shinier and snuggled, the flower leaned towards him, and the petals showed a blue spread collar in which a delicate face floated when suddenly a voice woke him … “

Mystical and enigmatic quality of a cosmos

Mimesis and alienation constitute the two critical poles between chiaroscuro as an aesthetic principle. Meant as a continuation of the general room darkness, the pathos of the dark interior forms the background for this floral symbol to light up from an unfathomable dream state, jolted to a sudden awakening. Are we awake? Is this real? Colours of sensual sheen, precious surface effects, parables of sensations, premonitions, thoughts, inner experiences and dreamy excitement. A painter’s obsession with its subject matter, from classical antiquity and the ancient Far East, to some of Christianity’s more lurid escapades and the poetic narratives of the Middle Ages, protrude into the here and now.  The mystical and enigmatic quality of a cosmos still hidden in the darkness. A dreamlike atmosphere of a mythical universe is reinforced by the syncretism of a multifaceted iconography, which combines the symbolic and the decorative from different epochs and cultures. This flower is a cryptic and ambivalent seduction – its eclectic multifariousness keeps asking us: how many lives does an iris have?