Most artists of generation sixties-seventies years, dedicated to work in spiritual and religious sphere, turned out to be the hostages of bad liberal education and lack of information. Everything that promised mystical giddiness, had a pulling power of neophyte readiness. Blavatskaya, yoga, Buddhism, cabbala, orthodoxy, heathenism - are known by hearsay, at the best by separate pages of Samizdat, filled heads and pictures. As a rule, these unintelligible raptures externalized in sugary stylization or indistinct expression. Against this background figure of Mikhail Ivanov stands apart. As practicing orthodox believer and that is more, educated, he feels deference of the religion and religious potpourri. In order that spiritual experience requires in canon of plastic form there were ages of art and theological work needed. Try to carry out this way from the start would be conceitedly. Try to emphasize formally and modernize sacral image - also. Painting of Ivanov (who devoted ten years of his life to icon painting) can be named religious. His early "feasts" (how himself calls compositions with figures near a table) were inspired by iconography of the Trinity by Rublev. But with the course of time definitiveness of this linkage slacked. Keeping semantic constant of the Trinity - symbol of unity, formula of Christian world order Ivanov increasingly masterfully varies initial formula. Gradually through orthodox image starts to appear antiquity, Fayum portrait, Egyptian hieratic art - all these whence appeared Christian figurativeness. Historical, cultural, image allusions exist on the background of distilled, almost unrecognizable, but surely presenting contemporary realities. There are motifs and forms, forgotten or reconsidered by latest tradition, surface in the "feasts" and monumental 'heads". As if in inverse perspective the artist would like to realize the origins meaningful image, its initial point, an archetype. Even when the matter is still life, landscape or portrait - under this specific is situated impersonal strata of symbol. Basic intuition leads the artist should had saw monstrous and discrete contemporary world through prism of iconographic tradition as the integral and blessed.
Mikhail Ivanov was born in Leningrad in 1944.
Studied at Secondary Art School (SAR), graduated from Art Critic Department of Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Repin.
In second half of sixties years often spends a long time in Moscow at circle of Moscow unofficial art artists.
Since1975 year has been participated in movement of Leningrad unofficial artists. He had published in "Samizdat" as art-critic.
Since second half of eighties years has been worked as professional icon painter.
During years of "perestroika" participated in establishment of Saint-Petersburg Institute of theology and philosophy, taught here special course of world art' symbolism, published a row of articles on this subject.
At nineties late gave up icon-painting, returned exceptionally to painting and graphic works.
Member of The Society for Experimental Fine Arts (TEII), Artists Union of Russia, Saint-Petersburg branch of IFA
I reckon my independent work in painting from 1970 year. The models of that times there were Malevich (for a long time there was not successful attempt to have saw his original works), Petrov-Vodkin, Kuznetsov, Morandi. Congenial circle of Leningrad artists of my sphere in 70s -80s years: V. P. Volkov, V.I. levitin, P. M. Kondratyev, P.M. Basmanov, V. V. Sterligov.
In 1975 year I met artists of "Arefyev' circle" at exhibition of "Leningrad underground". Friendly relations formed with Rikhard Vasmi, Vladimir Shagin, Valentin Gromov. I consider creative work of Sterlogov, Basmanov, "circle of Arefyev" phenomenon of national significance.
Together with these names (in attitude to them admiration and rejection were especially productive) tradition of Russian post-avant-garde rests close for me: landscapes by Yermolaeva, Drevin, Labas (their constructivism and expression), lyricism of Greenberg and Yuriy Vasnetsov. These artists had passed the plastic training and were overcoming, each in one's own way, its nihilism and masterfulness.
My painting I would define chiefly as search of "emblematic" (by laconism and semantic content) formulas corresponding of inner experience, and, I would like to think, time. In theory the matter is of initially spontaneous self-expression, excluding stylization, however, in the final analysis, comparable with symbolic motifs and forms, prevailing in the culture.
In this way experience of modernism and archaic, antiquity and canonic icon turn out to be equally actual. Spontaneously founded ("in a dream") motif, his plastically active (and, it means, unpredictable) realization lead to universal in the culture forms and images. Capacity of experienced symbol, width of its semantic perspectives open possibility of theme's variations; hence work by cycles, restricted repertoire "acquired" plots. The images I have been addressed for decades to: monumental heads ("Korai", conventional portraits, "heads in architecture"), "feasts", figures with a cup, house, bird.
Attempts to widen the circle of motifs at account of traditional iconography considered as quotations from strange text. Motif can be suggested, looked out in history of art, but it is precious only in one case - when it was experienced as belong to private experience. In its plastic realization utters intimate significant, not obligatory for spectator, but important, as initial impulse, provides vitality of an image.
Plain-air, portrait, still life in usual sense - this is deliverance from "narrow gates" emblematic painting. Drive away for abstract images evokes a shortage of nature, in turn immersion into "stream of impressions" also play out, is drawing towards stable formulas and obviously nourishing them.