Freedom philosophy in A.Kasteev’s creative work.

March 28, 2013, автор tim0

Philosophy/ philosophy of literature and art
Galimzhanova A., doctor of Arts

Kazakh National T. Zhurgenov Art academy, Kazakhstan

Freedom philosophy in A.Kasteev’s creative work.

Galimzhanova_A2The problem, connected with the freedom of artistic creative work, was sharply and obviously raised with reference to the whole group of Kazakhstan artists of the Soviet period. All incandescence and drama of this problem were expressed not only in linens, but in being itself, an artists’s ways of existence in the conditions of total regime, that didn’t allow to display creative freedom. But in any case, in spite of strict censorship, artists were still trying to embody something, that was fully connected with the expression of freedom in artistic creative work.

The history of professional artistic art in Kazakhstan originates from the Oktyabr revolution, beginning from 20-30 years of XX century. Before the Kazakh steppe simply didn’t have it, just Kazakh applied types of folk art, connected with the nomadic way of life, existed and were developing from the ancient times. Sharp breaking of people’s life with the turn to non-nomadic way of life, to the really another way of life, turn to the urban culture was marked by beginning of secular types of art in European (Russian) variant, which were going to experience the way of rapid development. Such a bound was made by all the cultures of Central Asian region.

The art development in Kazakhstan is connected with the name of Abylkhan Kasteev (1904-1973). Almost in all the works of this artist the main reality is nature, described by him in the frames of deep intuition, in accordance with which art is considered to be the way of man’s unity with nature. Kasteev genealogically feels the spirit of earth, he was grown up. His landscapes, mainly, are close to his heart, remembered by him from the very childhood. It is the exact place, where he acquired his love to mountain landscapes and valleys.

Kasteev’s motherland is a very beautiful place, aul of Chezhin Dzharkentsy region of Taldy-Korgan oblast. He went through an uneasy life: was bora in a poor family, being an eight year old boy he was a herd, also worked as a navvy in youth, then worked as a worker in the building of Turkestan-Sibirsk railway, and, if not to count two studios-one in

Alma-Ata and another in Moscow, he didn’t have a completed professional artistic education even at the age of thirty; we see, that this person felt and realized his mean, and in spite of all difficulties, sufferings, he chose his way, was devoted to it and to the chosen fate.

From our point of view, Kasteev was attracted to Renaissance world outlook, and his eye can be reasonably called «the window of spiri»”. The artist perceives nature as a harmony, where everything exists at once, and it is intact and can be surveyed in space, in spite of infinity and incompleteness. Kasteev, also like a Renaissance painter, has the distance between the subject (artist), and object (landscape), moreover his distance sometimes is huge and landscapes of the second period of his creative work are painted from the bird’s flight, and a spectator can see boundless space of valleys, mountain canyons and steppes.

Kasteev’s perception foresees the line of art’s movements, repelling from the clear rational constructions to more intuitive constructions. The composition of Kasteev’s linens testifies, from one side, that the whole perception of reality, where an artist realizes with the help of plastic means his perception experience, connected with the so called «feelings-perceptions». Together with Zh. Delez feelings-perceptions are considered to be «not a perception, referring to some object ( reference)», but landscapes and faces, views and foundations, that is, creatures, which are important as they are, without any experience. And, as Delez noted fairly, «the work of art is a creature of feeling and that is all…» [1, 208].

Such an understanding of art works can be referred to Kasteev’s works, as he tried to solve their basic problem – to restore that nature landscape, where the connection between the first matter of life and the affected state of the painter, actualizing his memory, as a whole block of some perceived feelings, is done.

The last apply to those sources of real perception, that form the unconscious sphere of artistic experience. Unconscious motives in Kasteev’s creative work form that aesthetic layer, which is still actual, as modem art forms also are attracted by widescale exploitation attempts of unconscious sphere. Nowadays, artistic images are based on a psycho­analytical conception, developed by Frade in his time. According to it, we have a deal with the images of another kind, which are associated not only with the point images, but with the sensitive images, that lie in the deep sphere of unconscious and not depending on those associations, which take the beginning from the external world.

It would be a mistake to consider Kasteev’s creative work only from the point of view of unconscious science, at least, because the cultural and historical sense of this teaching wasn’t a dominance, in the capacity of which it was perceived much later, referring to out region. But, in any case, we think, that Kasteev’s creative work can be considered from the point of view of unconscious teaching, examining the unconscious sphere, like a place of artistic freedom. But before we need to analyze Kasteev’s works from artistic, and then cultural views. Kasteev was an artist, who displayed essence of his time. With the help of his objective view he ran through «the artist’s time», when he could make the way-out from the bounds of human time, depicting the space before him. That is why we perceive Kasteev’s landscapes, as an untemporary thing. By the way, many artists were trying to achieve this effect in theirs landscapes. In this sense Kasteev’s landscapes are compared to the landscapes of Brueghel, Levitan, Kuindzhy and others.

We consider, that the most successful works of painters are those, where the artist depicts not only ideas, but a minute’s ability to express your feeling of life, that phenomenal world, which is opened to the artist’s conscious, and the painter is attracted by; whether it is nation’s historical memory, the world’s actuality or projects, looking for a future.

The peculiarity of the artist’s perception of this phenomenal world is in idea, that the artist, perceiving it, creates it, according to the laws, sometimes hidden from him. This phenomenon can be examined from different points of view. But we are more interested in the aspect of creative work, which is connected with the realization of freedom, as an indispensable condition for revealing «stagnant matter». In this sense, this matter is resisted by a rather active and various language of art. From this point of view, cultural value of Kasteev’s linens lies in author’s artistic method attempts to disclose his vision of phenomenal world in its aesthetic unity. Kasteev, even depicting nature landscapes, brings his individual style, peculiar only to him, where we can find not only aesthetic coldness, distance from the depicted object, but the completed human image in the experience of artist’s learning of object reality. As a result of it, real aesthetic delight from contemplating Kasteev landscapes, from our point of view, is concluded in a qualified bound from the world without a person, out of a person, to a person – to the human world. And this process visually demonstrates, how a person solves a rather difficult task – to tell about the idea of nature’s foundation in the place, where the painter himself is in constant development.

At the first level of approach to the objective reality, created by Kasteev, we already find the person’s becoming a mountain landscape, valley or passing-by river.

The matter is that Kasteev, according to his manner, places the foreground, as a rule, in a shade, where there are people, whose figures are often just marked. And not only people’s figures, but the space is filled with them. At the background, there is a triumph of light space, which is far away from a person, that indicates to the artist’s deep intuition. Such a type of opposition «proximity-distance» is outlined by the artist rather reliefly. It means, that Kasteev, creating his landscapes, just wants “to play” with a spectator to mislead, concerning the space of light and height, as if they play a role of a play, where a person doesn’t have an access. It seems, it is confirmed with a help of such a method, that the person’s vocation is to be in a shadow and in lowlands. But no, Kasteev’s plot, brining us to this play, depicts an unimportant fact, that the world of height and light is achieved only by an artist, who is the only one, standing up for its peculiarity to be at some distance in connection with a person.

This is the artist’s essence. Mastering nature’s objects, he appropriates them. And now we discover another distance between human world in his total unfreedom, when a person is ruled by social determination, and the artist’s world, seeking for revealing before a spectator his wish of freedom «here and now».

Offering such a genealogical reading of Kasteev’s linens, we are to disclose our theme, penetrating the artist’s language matter. It goes without saying, that the fundamental basis of this language is a sensitive wealth of outside world, and moreover, illuminated light.

In this sense, we believe, that the most interesting fact is that Kasteev’s linens can be compared to the linens of west artists of classical epoch. In one and another case especial role is given to light and shadow. Let’s take at least one representative of that epoch – Zhorzh de La Tur. In his creative work light plays an unambiguous role – the basis of this world, and all the projections of this world are intended to it. Here, an artist and a spectator is one and the same person.

In Kasteev’s creative work, light is a first essence of matter. Kasteev doesn’t intend to show metaphysical picture of the world. The world, being penetrated by light is a real outside world, but it is far away from a subject, that is, from a person, who is contemplating it. And in any case, it has anthropologic measuring, for it is close to many flocks («Flock on dzhailyau», 1947), to prosaic places of mountain aul («Milking of mares», 1947), to groups of people, moving in the boat along the mountain lake («Lake of Issyk», 1953).

This comparing speaks about Kasteev’s deep penetration into artistic basis of light, but being already refracted and sifted through a prism of primitive safety of human essence, being close to resisting natural reality.

In connection with it, we can tell, that Kasteev successfully achieved that effect, when the world of clear aesthetics is in balance with the ethic world. Kasteev’s deep intuition penetrates all the sides of human being. Kasteev’s universal view is characterized by conformity of aesthetic values and moral values, demanding from an artist sincere depiction of reality. Kasteev’s universality doesn’t lie in his appeal to the world, which ruled in his time, and this is aesthetics not only of dominant subjects, but the situation, connected with the «truthful»” speech of art.

It goes without saying, that “truthfulness” refers us to artistic abilities of aesthetic ideal of all the considered authors. Criticizing creatures of their creative works, we must differentiate such definitions, like tyranny and freedom.

Artist’s freedom is a following to rules and norms, established in artistic art in peculiar, and in creative works in general. Remarkable the words of one founder of modern aesthetics, German philosopher N. Gartman: «To create freely doesn’t mean to rush about from one side to another or to run after something new; it means, that we need to understand, to catch intuitively inner unity and necessity to build in general – not only one layer, but before penetrating all the layers – and with the help of it to find the way to form outside sensitive form of matter, to find words, sounds, colors or suited sculpture material, to find in the best way of penetration, when all the decoration courses of deeply lied layers are seen. Such a type of creativity is «free», because it opens and uses new abilities, allows to see hidden things» [2, 329].

Kasteev’s outward sensitive form is «free», because it allows to see not only hidden things, but on the contrary, it discloses obvious things, but moved aside to the depth of artistic composition; in any case, this very sensitive form calls for effect of formation – formation by landscape.

Kasteev’s landscape, as you have noted before, has human measures, but in a conditional sense, for Kasteev’s nature «essence» is filled up by the fact of human existence in this world. But this fact of human being in nature is perceived by him, like some marks on a person’s way to nature. Kasteev’s human world is in balance with nature world, but as a decoration.

That is why we can explain Kasteev’s qualified bound from the world of historical images to images of another kind. The substitution of a person for Kasteev is an image, which is penetrated by him rather successfully. In the capacity of such an image, Kasteev shows a mountain in its completeness, lighten up by the presence of an artist in this phenomenal world, where everything is not just set, but demands its solution. We think, that the world in general is perceived by Kasteev, like a space, organized by conscious, mainly, heuristic.

We believe, the artist’s business is concluded in opening and revealing mysteries, close to them, which aren’t noted by many people, because of their «prosaic far-sight». And here we think, that important meaning is given to the status of an artist, who has to appear, like a witness of close things, but also the corresponding relation – relation, that has a rather intimate character. The natural world and human world, corresponding to each other, complete each other. In this sense, there is no a place to human meanness with the relation to nature in this world.

Kasteev isn’t just a painter, but he is a thinker, using artistic methods to show, that phenomenal world is controlled, but with the help of other means – means of artistic language of his time. Here we can carry out some analogies with the Holland landscape of XVII – XVIII centuries.

Looking at the works of Vermeer or Philips de Koninka, Rembrandt’s apprentice, we can discover the close relationship between Kasteev and the phenomenon of «Holland landscape», taking into consideration, that «the Holland valley landscape» is not characteristic of those regions, described by such an artist, like Kasteev, who devoted himself to describing local landscapes. Like, for example, mountain landscape. In this we can discover Kasteev’s intuition, prompting Holland art, like art in general, has its limits. In the process of introducing some natural landscapes, Kasteev, from our point of view, achieved many goals, one of them should be marked like a dominance, the next moment: such an effect, when all the human, corresponding to nature landscape, not being hostile, but on the contrary, is opened by the same inexpressible play of proximity and distance.

If Konink is characterized by depicting those regions of Holland, where plain landscape, damp meadow soil, oak and beech groves, cold blue sky, appearring through a lace of clouds, prevail, but Kasteev is characterized by another manner. With the help of those free brush movements on the foreground, he depicts, differing from the Hollands, not cold sky and not winding roads, moving far away, but beautiful in their simpleness motives of native nature in south-east of Kazakhstan.

An artist fulfills his mission, when he reforms the real scales of sensitive world, taking them out to the other measures. And this ouside world is the quarantee of the natural world, making way out from «the kingdom of necessity» to «the kingdom of freedom».

Creativity in its deep manifestations is a constant search for individuality in this deprived world. But at the same time, every artist tries to solve the problem, which many generations of creators have been trying to overcome, even before him trying to recreate concrete sense of people’s existence on the basis of all deversity of technics.
The choice of an artist in this respect influenced on his manner of an artist letter, determining the formation basis of his style. We live in a world of various poles, where the diversity of original styles, like monolithic geological layers, moving, covering each other and running through each other, undergo much transformations, losing its actual meaning.

When we concern ontologic characteristics of artistic creation, as Kasteev imagined it, we obviously feel fundamental opening of an artist to the world in the capacity of a creature, who is trying to understand this world. And in the capacity of this opening, Kateev’s linens signify not only triumph of the genre (as we know, he examined himself in its different manifestaitons, from a portrait to landscape), but the principal opening to the human existence on the earth. And in this we find the source of germenevtic production art, based on the understanding of simple presence of the artist’s personality, is more suitable for the essence of Kasteev’s creative work, than various reflections, concerning the appreciation of his creative work – like academic or folk-applied solely.

If it is so, we can tell, that Kasteev’s linens express that layer of Kazakh people’s life, that has taken root in the sphere of experience of some «mystic secret» of existence.
We cannot say for sure, how Kasteev’s biography corresponds to the line of movement of his creative work from heroic to the description of mode of life, but here we have a right to indicate the artist’s distance from the depicted reality, mainly, however human.

According to our deep conviction, not depending on specifics of artistic reflections, concerning resemblance and differences of artistic styles, Kasteev’s creative work can be compared in sense of ontological intuitions with the creative work of Netherlands painters of XVI century.

In particular, the main characteristic peculiarities of his pictures correspond to the linens of Piter Brueghel by the deep insight into the human existence and, at the same time, by the unprecedented pushing aside from it. It is enough just to remember Brueghel’s «Worhsip of soothsayers». In this picture Brueghel wanted to depict not only historical contexts, connected with the life being of Christian founders. The birth of Christ itself is depicted by Brueghel as a really prosaic fact on the background of good-for-nothing fuss, characteristic of all mankind.

Kasteev also is characterized by this «tragic note in the voice», being like an echo of World history, and dramatic history of Kazakh nation («The Portrait of Kenesary»). Moreover, the artistic process itself was perceived by Kasteev, like a drama, where in any case life should triumph over all the forms, that can give an end to its free manifestations. By force of these circumstances, Kasteev can be perceived like an innovator.

He perceived the artistic process as the whole, not depending on culture dominance, European or autochthonal, in this case nomadic. May be, Kasteev was less interested by this. The painter fully imagined himself, that «ar»” meant not only direct pictures of his time, but his perception of the historical past of his land, from one side, insides the person into the sphere, where he is hardly determined by the general motion of historic events, (Surrounding culture sphere, and from the other side, gives a person a chance to go back on historic short-sightedness and to see sprouts of the new day even today. To support this sight of view means to be a free person.

And Kasteev behaves in this way exactly, first, as a person, realizing himself in the capacity of a creature, who is a representative of a nation and lives in a concrete space period of time; second, as a painter able to remake artistically the surrounding reality in the limits of artistic art; third, the painter’s status itself must be regarded as a place, where the production of some technologies is carried out, that intends to immerse the life into the element of free creation.

Kasteev’s creative work demonstrates the way of providing circumstances for displaying freedom of artistic creative work. The key, opening Kasteev’s basic intuition in connection with the freedom can be considered as a mood, that is particular practically to all his linens, that fundamental mood, that Heidegger called «renouncement», but we call «peace-loving». This reference aesthetically displays great value, as the painter’s business means, that before making some spirit vibrations in dreams, he should make transference from realizing things in their state of fermentation to such perception, when they are in balance state. The artist in this case should let them come into his own world, with the aim of confirming them, as the whole and being formed in themselves. Such perception, being a premise of artistic art’s freedom, also means unique artistic language, which has been worked out during all the history of mankind.

From our point of view, the most valuable Kasteev’s works are those, where he tried to express indivisible unity between a person and a surrounding world. And in these landscapes we obviously find the crossing of motives between everlasting and passing, but only these motives can form that block of problems, which are taken into consideration by art.

In favor of our last appreciation speaks the fact, that the phenomenon of the XX century is not a person, who creates much noise around himself, but on the contrary, a person, around which the world is revolved «inaudibly». And we think, that we have a right to tell it. First, he offered to the world personal dialogues about personal, second, his aesthetic intuitions are fully based on the reality, that is depicted by the traditional language of aesthetics.

So if such value, as the freedom of artistic creative work is present in the works of those painters, who, first, are not exposed to a situation, and, second, who are based on folk art, possessing high value and the source of inspirations for many painters.

Speaking about Kasteev’s creative work, we believe, that the freedom in his case – is a freedom of aesthetic ideal, aspiration to express the individual feeling of time, opining “spirit” horizons for next generations of painters.

Abylkhan Kasteev is no doubt a distinguished personality in artistic culture of Kazakhstan. The essential fact in Kasteev’s creative work is that he, first, following to the best traditions of world and native artistic culture, was able to open the whole innovative layer, on the basis of which the group of talented Kazakhstan painters in the person of Aitbayev, Sariyev and others was formed further; second, he opened new ontological horizons in the understanding of historic – cultural situations, from the point of view of ability to express freedom of artistic art, also particular meaning, which nowadays is taken by individual task of the painter, by current means of transferring old forms of existence art, and, in such a way, to make a person to aspire to freedom.

1. Делез Ж., Гваттари Ф. Что такое философия? Пер. с франц. С.Н. Зенкина. М: Алетейя, 1998.
2. Гартман Н. Эстетика. M., 1958.

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Art Criticism

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