Symphonic visions – paintings of Mikalojus Čiurlionis 2
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), Creation of the World 8 (1905-06), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.
In this second article about the Lithuanian composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911) I look at just one of his series of paintings: The Creation of the World, which consists of thirteen works which he completed during 1905-06. My previous article outlined his career and showed a selection of his other works.
As Čiurlionis was a composer and a synaesthete who linked music with paintings, I recommend that if at all possible you listen to some of his musical works whilst you enjoy these paintings. This Wikipedia article has links to some of his music on Spotify; if you prefer Apple’s Music Store, I recommend its recording of Last Pagan Rites and Epitaphium Temporum Pereunti. The latter features the choir of the Vilnius Čiurlionis Art School, which is only appropriate.
The paintings in this series are only numbered, and Čiurlionis didn’t give them individual titles which might link them to specific passages in the book of Genesis or any other account of creation. I won’t bore you with my thoughts on what each painting in the series might show, but leave you to read Čiurlionis’ sequence.
This series in particular has led to claims that he was one of the heralds of pure abstract painting. In the context of the theme and his other works, I think there is much more to these than just the abstract, though, and draw your attention to the elaborate echoing of structures and passages within several of these images. I believe that each of them was painted in tempera on paper, has approximate dimensions of 36 x 32 cm, and is currently in Warsaw.