CYBERNETIC PAINTING OF SIGURDS VĪDZIRKSTE THE LOST CODE

Published: 10.06.15

Sigurds Vidzirkste- New York Avant-Gardist exhibition „BLACK SUN”.                

I am not inclined to attach great value to words. Works created from words are only a performance but not a creation. They are limited. They are only mere reflections of the direct perception. I would rather value works that grow out in the direct process of work. Painting should take place just in the physical world. The first creative idea lacks form. It is a pure essence that does not contain means of expression in itself. But then there is a second created stage of the idea with form and development which can be expressed in symbols. The idea per se is not creative, but it possesses magnetic attraction and aura which suit for a further development of new ideas.

I admit the possibility that the vibrations of thinking trigger the idea, thus creating a chain reaction – perpetuum mobile.

 5 18 / 5 18 13 20 / 16 1 18 1 20 12 5 18 / 3 5 14 19 17 18 /

16 17 9 5 3 9 7 18 / 20 14 / 14 5 16 1 17 5 9 22 18 /

19 1 12 1 2 / 5 18 / 7 17 9 2 20 / 1 9 22 7 17 9 13 19/

20 14 / 1 16 13 1 12 4 9 19 9 5 18 / 19 1/ 11 1 /

19 9 12 19 9 / 19 1 / 11 1 / 16 20 11 5 18 / 19 1 / 11 1 /

20 4 5 14 9 /// S. Vīdzirkste1

The exhibition “Cybernetic Painting” of works by Sigurds Vīdzirkste (1928 -1974) was organized in 2007, from September 12 to October 21, in four halls of the Foreign Art Museum located on the same axis. Its title contained a reference to the historical Vīdzirkste solo exhibition “Cybernetic Canvases”, held in Kips Bay gallery, New York City Second Avenue 613, from January 24 to February 11, 1968. Then, the works displayed at the exposition accessible to the public of New York had neither the names nor signatures or dates – merely the numbers. And their “only element of plastic action is groupings of various size and form dot-like protrusions, which in each painting follow some definite order, but this order can never be predicted before nor is repeated symmetrically. (…) The diversity in the size of dot-like protrusions produces a peculiar movement in the works, as if creating a new dimension which lives and pulsates independent of the place of mathematical groupings”.2

Daina Dagnija, the painter and initiator of the exhibition of 2007, singled out as a central core  works with dot-like protrusions created in the 60s of the 20thcentury, which at the opening ceremony poet Māris Salējs had compared with the texts in braille printing to be read by touching them with big fingers.3 The central part of the exposition was dominated by canvases irradiating and reflecting light in yellow, bronze and silver tones, while in the territories at the end, as the aspect of light, there was darkness, embodied in the pictures of the late 1950s and the beginning of 1970s. Paint splashes on paper and materials, providing an insight into the Vīdzirkste’s creative laboratory, were also seen at the exhibition.

After the artist’s death, Daina Dagnija, Vīdzirkste’s beloved woman, inherited his works and kept them until 1990, when the larger part of the collection – 110 visual items – were donated to Latvian Culture Foundation which, in its turn, re-addressed the donation to the then Association of Latvian Art Museums, and at present the collection of Vīdzirkste’s works is the pride of Latvian National Art Museum. It is worth mentioning that the exposition at the Foreign Art Museum contained also works from the collection of Guntis Belēvičs and other private collections, as well as the portrait of Vīdzirkste endowed with a magnetic look and drawn by Daina Dagnija in sepia technique (1973).

It was already in 1968 that the viewers’ most frequent question was about what these works had to do with cybernetics. Does cybernetics change abstract expressionism?

The concept of “cybernetics” has been introduced by Norbert Weiner, the founder of the branch, who used this term to designate and include computer science, biology, philosophy and knowledge about the structure of society, namely, the transference of natural processes into a technical environment. The military interests of the Second World War and the cold war promoted a rapid development and electronic possibilities of programming. Its achievements attracted composers and stimulated the creation of digital art works, though the programmers themselves at that time did not consider these products in electronic environment endowed with visual qualities as art. Roland Barthes related the development of cybernetics in the 60s to syntagmatic consciousness that simultaneously contributed to both the development of programming and revealing mythological layers. Cybernetics aroused enthusiastic expectations that one day the artificial intellect would not only tackle mathematical problems but would also begin writing poetry and composing music. The name chosen by Vīdzirkste was in the “air”, and a viewer who had little to do with programming might think that using this name had been the promotion trick of the gallery.

Today, cybernetists have changed into systemanalysts, and cybernetics, “the magic key of the epoch”4, has developed a patina of history. However, the fact that the term has fallen out of active circulation does not make the phenomenon itself non-existent. On the contrary, the term acquires chronological and typological borders, becomes usable, thus allowing to look at and evaluate the numerous stratifications of Vīdzirkste’s works from a time distance. Having transformed into other words, cybernetics continues circulating in the art of digital media.

The flourishing of abstract thinking was tightly linked with the events of WW II. “An especially crucial factor was the absorption of small nations into the blocks of great powers or at least into their interest and influence spheres, which destroyed the national basis and developed an international orientation.”5 The extreme social-political changes, forcible breach of the roots, losses at the national and private levels placed all the people in the zero or initial position, independent of their merits in the past, thus aggravating the “eternal questions” of spiritual sphere and metaphysical tension. The older generation in exile lived by traditional values, while the younger generation turned to universal regularities, which allowed maintaining the past and addressing the future, but first and foremost, experiencing the current moment. The American spirit of the 30s was expressed by jazz, but New York became the center of world art thanks to the movement of abstract expressionism, which gradually was officially recognized to be the achievement of the capitalist society and the reaction of consummate individualism to socialistic realism.

Abstract expressionism developed at the time when American avant-garde was gaining transcendental experience, was interested in archetypes of Carl Gustav Jung and in collective sub-consciousness, Laodzi cosmology and Japanese Zen Budhism. Vīdzirkste, being a representative of the second generation of New York abstract painting who worked in the very epicenter of the current events, has not extensively explained his identification, transforming art into a linear narrative. The only laconic sketch of his thoughts quoted at the beginning of this article allows us assuming that the first sentence has been formulated as his reaction to conceptualism, which in the 60s changed New York galleries into reading rooms. However, Ferdinand de Saussure’s finding that: “Language is a form rather than substance” is echoed in this sentence as well.6 In its turn, the self-value emphasized by a physical process directs attention to expressionism and action painting, where the act of painting itself is compared to the divine creation and art subject, but the artist – to the instrument of freedom manifestations, who by means of visual signs is able to reflect and influence the cosmic order by finding for the idea an outwardly attractive form, which exists in the development and fluidity like petals of a flower. But the most essential thing that Vīdzirkste is concerned with is the primary idea or “vibrations of thinking”. Abstraction is historically related to religious beliefs in Judaism and Islam, and to a certain extent to those in Christianity as well. In Vīdzirkste’s case, who puts forward the idea about the vibration of thought, about the sound as the first aspect of the creation process, Vedanta emerges in the foreground. Vibration is a motion having definite intensity, length and width. Oriental visionaries acknowledge that after having been manifested, every vibration merges with the original source. The sphere of the influence of   vibration corresponds to the delicacy of the level, where the vibration is produced. According to Vedanta vibrations of mind are stronger than those of a word. Among New York abstractionists Barnett Neumann was the one who emphasized sound. These were just the sibilants that he derived the code zip from, by means of which he expressed the essence of the image and depicted it in the painting as a freely drawn vertical. Zip, “tearing” the surface of the plane, suggests space and thereby embodies specific feelings which do not have figurative allusions. Intuitively, we wish to relate the initial stage of Vīdzirkste’s independent activity to the influence of Neumann.

Sigurds Arvīds Vīdzirkste was born on February 10, 1928, in Daugavpils, where his father, Arvīds Vīdzirkste, (1893 -1987) worked as a secretary in the Railwaymen Sickness Insurance Fund of the District Court. Edīte (1926), Sigurds’ sister, tells that during the First World War her father had been in the ranks of riflemen, had studied English in Tomsk. In 1920 or 1921, he came to Daugavpils and soon got acquainted with Anna Zoola (1899 – 1985), who, having returned from places where she lived as a refugee, was working as an interpreter in the Sickness Insurance Fund. They had known Russian and German. The family had two children. Sigurds learnt at Daugavpils Primary school No. 2. And Eleonora Šturma, the then resident of Daugavpils, remembers that boys and girls of this school had been segregated to different classes. In Riga, Sigurds graduated from primary school of a State standard where drawing had been taught by Jānis Kalmīte.7 During WWII Sigurds studied at the Chemistry Department of Riga State College.

In the autumn of 1944, at the age of 16, Sigurds and his family went to Germany in the status of refugees and were placed in the camps for deported people in Grehven and Mehrbeck. Here,   Sigurds became the pupil in the studio of prof. Valdemārs Tone. On the Christmas of 1950, Sigurds and his family immigrated to the USA and settled in New York City. Soon after this, he joined Art Students’ League. Here had studied Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Barnett Neumann – a constellation of artists who had motivated Vīdzirkste to a greater extent than Will Barnett, in whose studio he painted picturesquely and colorfully, and drew generalized models in charcoal, as well as started drawing abstract compositions in crayon, as mentioned by Voldemārs Avens8, who had also studied in Barnett’s studio. Daina Dagnija has also studied in the League. Art Students’ League does not have examinations and does not award diplomas, which would have enabled to specify the period of Vīdzirkste’s studies, consequently, this period remains “without a knot, untied” (Eleonora Šturma). Instead of formal certification, the League offers a powerful intellectual environment and opportunity to approbate one’s own contribution to the melting pot of ideas. A student chooses a teacher and when he feels strong enough, he leaves the league.

The lectures on philosophy and the intensive exhibition life with the so called New York school activity pulled the Latvian emigrant into the depths of abstraction. Vīdzirkste was mathematically-minded. Being an audio-visual specialist, whose duties involved the creation and representation of statistic cards, he, immaculately dressed in a white shirt, day by day worked in the Federal Reserve Bank on Wall Street which regulates the monetary policy of the state and where the gold of the free Latvia is kept. We have good grounds to assume that it, the biggest bank of the USA, was just the place where Vīdzirkste acquired the principles of electronic calculating machine operation. But there are other, less significant but very specific, testimonies to his interests in exact sciences. Among the printed materials collected by him we find the annotation of the Italian artist Mario Merz to the exhibition Sonnabend Gallery in New York, 1970, supposedly due to only one reason. In it, the representative of arte povera interprets his drawings using as the basis a sequence of numbers created by Leonardo Fibonacci, monk from Pisa (about 1175 – about1250). This number sequence begins with 0 and 1, but every next number Fibonacci derives by summing up the two preceding numbers. In the result, the following sequence of numbers is obtained: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…

The impulses fixed by Vīdzirkste on six small sheets of paper in English and Latvian show that in the focus of his attention there has been Gottfried Leibnitz (1646 – 1716), who invented a mechanical calculating machine able to do mathematical calculations with large numbers and also extract roots. Leibnitz discovered infinitesimal quantities. Vīdzirkste has read (about) “Theodizee” (1710), “Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement” (1703 – 1705) and “Monadologie” (1714). The notes made by the artist are extremely brief: “Viņam ir viena fil[ozofiska] ideja (he has one philosophic idea) – the universal intel[l]igibility of all things”. “All things reflect God’s existence”. – “All things are united”9. The German philosopher considered that the world consists of innumerable similar elements or substances. Every substance or force is a monad – a unit of a spiritual entity. A number is the external manifestation of monad’s passivity and its limitation. Monads are a live mirror of the Universe, “metaphysical points” which can neither be created nor destroyed in a natural way, they have an internal dynamics and inclination. The development is a transformation of initial forms resulting from infinitesimal changes.

Undeniably, we feel a temptation to call dot-like protrusions in Vīdzirkste’s cybernetic canvases monads. The obtrusive wish to operate with numbers is manifested in the sphere of relationships as well. In the love letter written to Vīdzirkste by the poetess and literary critic, Valda Dreimane, we read: “The asters father brought this morning and tomatoes – altogether seventeen (counted for Your sake) [here and thereafter emphasis mine – A. V.]are between green and red. Fruits or vegetables? Don’t know. But they are beautiful.10” But Vīdzirkste’s letter to his relations demonstrate an absolutely “hot” interpretation of cybernetics. It was written at the end of 1964 right after an “absolutely artistically arranged” solo exhibition where “everything down to the last detail was coordinated, everything was like a single and powerful symphony.”11 The “symphony” sounded in Vīdzirkste’s Manhattan studio, Liberty Street 148, in former quarters of the New York Dockers Trade Union, and instead of which later the one hundred-and-ten-storied towers of the World Trade Center, destroyed by the terrorists on September 11, 2001, will be built. In his letter Vīdzirkste writes: “My dear ones, it is snowing so heavily today that I got home at four already, made my dinner, then I sawed and made new frames, and now I have to describe and send to you this – almost a family sheet. The echo of my tricks appears in newspapers after such a long time, and I am expecting one more from the Canadian “Latvia”, that I have to send one at a time, otherwise I may upset you by making you wait too long, I’m so sorry that I am late with them.

The process of preparing the exhibition and two final months were grueling work. Until three o’clock every night, and on the day of exhibition the first people came when I was still hanging pegs to the ceiling and heating water for shaving. Maruta, Kaņeps and Dags had come to help me, they did chores, made tea with lemon, and opened Italian cognac bottles to get warmer, though it was not very cold on that day. I had provided the promised box. In half an hour’s time the house was full of people, approximately 200 people, all minds happy I hope, positions, oppositions, but that concerns little to me, everything seemed taken off my shoulders and handed over to people and their discussions; and I chattered away, and took “a drink”, which I seemed to have earned, with my acquaintances and with me myself. To my mind, the exhibition, if not each separate picture (…), was good. The studio – painted white, pictures – in the frames, the sun – in the windows: a thrilling general picture. On the reverse side of the sheet I have copied Šturma’s article from the newspaper12. It is not bad at all, but I must say that although she meant well writing about everything she knew and could see, she did not see, I must say, me, the fundamentals and aspirations of my painting, she did not see what was behind the thickness of pigment and what cannot be expressed by small clichés. The basic pictures or the beginning was three small 15 x15 cm drawings which did not mean anything for her, and this seems the reason why she remained curious about the technique and only within the limits of the surface of canvas.

On the whole I am satisfied. The expenses were small. Over $ 400, but I sold two pictures to doctor Upatniece, consequently there are no losses.

At work this is a busy season, and I’ve left pictures on the walls as they were, and at the coming “Press ball” organized next Saturday there will be people from Chicago and other places, and the people of the local press told me that they would like to come. I make frames and am getting ready to start painting in the warm part of my house.”13

“The basic pictures” or “three small drawings” signal about programming, logic quantity, consecutive three commands given at the very beginning, thus determining the solution of big formats. However, Vīdzirkste has not documented his code. For the exhibition in Foreign Art Museum Daina Dagnija had selected one drawing of dots framed by Vīdzirkste himself, which had been on the loft at the wall until his death. I would like to assume that this is a part of the code mentioned by Vīdzirkste. Then, following the best examples of adventure genre, there only would remain to find the other two drawings framed by the artist himself and we would have got Vīdzirkste. However, while this has not occurred, a viewer has to use all other opportunities to overcome difficulties. As the system-analyst Māris Vilks maintains: “There does not exist a system that cannot be broken or avoided”.

Vīdzirkste accepted and developed the language of abstract expressionism, integrating into it his knowledge of mathematics, chemistry and music. The beginning of his independent creative activity dates from the late 50s and is to be related to his abandoning the polychrome imagery by reducing the composition to dark-light relations and correlations of elementary forms, hoping to discover the universal quantity which determines the art process and forms the armature of an art work. Which does not change when everything around changes. In his interview given to writer Jānis Klāvsons, Vīdzirkste said that in his canvases he did not want to depict landscapes, “pictures”, but rather “correlations between objects”14. Namely, he considered that his task was the organization of spatial information (a sound is also spatial) expressed in the form of a dot, line, circle and plane, by providing the arrangement or iteration of elements when one and the same action is performed by a different quantity, and in every next painting the element by means of which the action has been done changes itself.

The visiting card of the exposition at the Foreign Art Museum was a painting with a conspicuous void at the extreme line of dots (Untitled. Late 60s of the 20thc. Canvas, author’s technique. 137×152.2 cm. LNMM). The painting reminds of punched cards employed in Charles Babbage’s (1792 – 1874) analytical engine. In electro-mechanic devices the commands are given in the form of numbers, but the devices detect the numbers as a chain of signals, and by the peculiarities of the first signals in the chain the machine understands how the next signals are to be processed. If we would like to dream up a formula, put down by Māris Vilks it might look like this: in a decimal system: 15 15 15 15 15 14 15; in a hexadecimal system: F F F F F E F. But at transforming the binary system into a decimal one we obtain the equations:

1111B=1×23+1×22+1×21+1×20=15D

1110B=1×23+1×22+1×21+0x20=14D

 

A horizontal line can be analyzed by using Barnett Neuman’s zip, which in the computing terminology is one of archiving formats when information is compressed according to its algorithm. In a bar code, used on the products you buy, the narrow bar is one signal, a wider – two signals, still a more wider – three signals. Had the bar block been completely black, it would not express anything at all, while given in numbers it would be a series of ones: 11111111…

Vīdzirkste’s seed capital is the archetypical black, a go of the radical painting in the 50s-60s. Continuing Kasimir Malevich’s idea of the black square, originating from the black curtain for the futuristic opera “Victory over the Sun”15, the New Yorkers perceived the black as the “last” painting which blots out illusory-imaginative thinking. It is zero with which painting revives as the object of self-sufficient perception. After Malevich, the question about primogeniture no longer arises – black paintings have been created by Robert Raushenberg and Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt who labels his black painting as “purely abstract, objectless, timeless, non-spatial, unchangeable, non-relative, uninteresting”16. After crossing the threshold of constructivism, the question of what the work tells us about comes to the foreground. This question is easier to answer, if we regard Vīdzirkste’s art as an interconnected and coordinating totality, as a message about “pure” notions. Vīdzirkste paints black, grey or ochre backgrounds with black lines or circles, putting emphasis on texture, tonal nuances or contrasts. Undeniably, the inspiration of New York megalopolis can be diagnosed in them. Eleonora Šturma and Baiba Bičole remember that the artist himself, when asked about the black, would jokingly answer that he loved the landscape seen through the metro window. He had been heard boasting that he “painted de-humanized pictures”17.  However, if these works of textures, lines and circles are considered within the context of Vīdzirkste’s interests, then, looking back we see that it is possible to speak here about the texture defined by Voldemārs Matvejs in 1913 as a noise which stimulates the transition of the static perception into the dynamic perception, thereby making objects the fields and waves of energy. Sound may be registered like a block (a thud), like a line of different width and length fixing the frequency and time distance, like concentric circles showing spreading of sound in space. In the latter case the circles of Vīdzirkste can be related to the colorful circles in the center of squares created by Kenneth Noland.

I would like to single out one of his black works (Latvian National Art Museum) as an added value to the discourse on the 20th c. art icon “Black Square”. Due to their archetypical character, the black works have been gratifying food for interpretation. The poem “Melnā saule” [The Black Sun]18 by Gunārs Saliņš was written after he had seen a 50x50cm large “flash” of the same title. However its whereabouts are not known, but it has made the apocalyptic motif topical again in the myth-poetics of New York “hell kitchen”. The blackness in Vīdzirkste’s pictures has been translated into poetry images by Voldemārs Avens, Aina Zemdega, Jānis Klāvsons, Valda Dreimane19 and Linards Tauns20. Vīdzirkste, being in general snobbish to words, was attracted by rhythm, accents, repetitions in poetry, by what was behind words. Like mathematical impulses, Vīdzirkste wrote down poetry by replacing the letters with numbers. Continuing about the works in black, I cannot avoid speaking about their opposition. An absolutely white or blank field recorded mathematically is zeroes: 000000… The letter written to his relations in 1964 informs that Vīdzirkste has had some white picture, the one “which father liked and which now is sold for $ 300”21.

The creative heritage of Vīdzirkste includes not only large-size, mainly square (a square has the strongest optical influence), pictures, but also drawings of systems of precise small circles on tracing-paper, as well as arrangements of dots of different size (each with its own interval) on photo-films. Basically the materials are transparent, and at forming the interferences of two or three photo-films various rhythmic structures are produced. In this way the following works have been created: 1) “Untitled. Till 1968. Canvas, author’s technique, thread. 183×183 cm. Private property”. And 2) “Untitled. 1968 – 1970. Canvas, author’s technique. 183.3×183 cm. LNMM”. Opposite to the small discrete dots, which strategically mark the conception of the composition, Vīdzirkste, like an Oriental who practices Sumi-e, with maximal concentration creates drawings of spontaneous gestures, throws of black gouache or oil on brown wrapping paper. When paper has absorbed oil, a dark turpentine contour like a tonal transition emerges round the form. The drawings reflect the inner feeling, the outburst of blocked-up force and at the same time are suggestive by their dazzling freedom of fluid matter, by what cannot be predicted before. From Guntis Beleēvičs collection, the exhibition in the Foreign Art Museum had three works of this type,   involving dot, line and circle. However, in those, non-included, we could find also non-definable, spontaneous phenomena. Both types of drawings – the rational, systemic, statistic, individuality excluding, and the opposite one – irrational, dynamic, open in form and filled with live energy – mark the extreme points in Vīdzirkste’s art maintaining the tension of his painting.

Vīdzirkste has studied chemistry. This enabled him to get to the system of roots in painting. We have to bear in mind the fact that the period of minimalism had set in, requiring a formal perfection of new technologies and materials, and keeping avant-gardism’s requirement for author’s technique alive. Be it as it may, but Vīdzirkste has never economized on the materials. After texture works painted in oil followed works where “on a more or less evenly sprayed canvas, a circular protrusion of metal powder and epoxide cohesive substance was placed; these protrusions, grouped in different calculated distances and rhythms, form the compositional backbone of the picture.”22 The sprayed layer allows seeing the canvas weave, namely, the qualities of the canvas itself. In their turn, the dense layers of color emphasize the pulsation of the dot-like structures. In works of the final period, displayed for the first time at the joint exhibition of Vīdzirkste and Daina Dagnija “Signs” on November 25 – 26, 1972, in Alts hall, Boston, Vīdzirkste returned to spontaneously flowing textures which in the light reflected metallic glitter.

After artist’s death on July 17, 1974, several trunks full of metallic powders and a toluol mask were found in his studio. The aspect of chemistry may be discussed more extensively due to restoration. The chemical analysis of the work “Untitled. Late 50s of the 20th c. Canvas, author’s technique. 141×142 cm. Riga. Guntis Belēvičs” shows that Vīdzirkste forms his author technique from acrylic colors and ground iron particles, possibly corroded in some volatile chemical substance, and mixed in natural pigments, which in turn are mixed with natural soft resins and varnish of acrylic resins. From a close distance, the dark layer of the circle resembles the uneven texture of the asphalt board.23 This circle had been produced before Vīdzirkste went to Majorca Isle  (belongs to Spain), and he had chosen this place in 1956 while serving in the USA navy. In 1960, Vīdzirkste settled down in Solyer harbor, with savings that allowed him to devote a little bit more than a year’s time to art. It is essential to fix the fact that Vīdzirkste had been interested in monochrome, in the relations between earth tones and a powerfully expressed surface long before he got acquainted with the art of Catalonian modernist Antoni Tapies (1923), whom he admired immensely. We cannot deny the fact that Majorca had the effect of a catalyst. According to Daina Dagnija, Vīdzirkste had visited Majorca several more times. Under the sky of Spain, the black, grey and ocher unfolded, got the second breath and acquired a timbral-nuanced sounding, an especially soft overtone, which is lingering in the atmosphere when voices have died away and the sound is continued in mind or over-sensation.

Vīdzirde was interested in an absolute rhythm – spontaneous and calculated, regular and irregular, symmetrical and asymmetrical, in intervals – changeable and unchangeable, in degrees of dot relief as indicators of a distance and bearers of timbral gradations, in polyphonic multi-layerness and minimalistic ascetism. We can only imagine the brilliant teamwork between Vīdzirkste and Estonian poet-surrealist, acoustician Ilmar Laaban. While being a guest inLiberty street he “speaking with an unusual, almost cruel intensity, tried to understand dotted ornaments painted by Vīdzirkste, rhythm variations which continue unpainted into space following laws of mathematics and metaphysics”.24

A musically-oriented viewer looking at the artist’s canvases hears manifestations analogous to serial music which ignores motif, compressing the whole information into an isolated sound. It is not by chance that Vīdzirkste, by means of a tape recorder Ampeks, recorded both music and poetry recited by his friend and poet Linards Tauns.25 But not only this. He fixed New York noises and silence, trying to identify a system within the seeming chaos.26 Music by Karlheinz Stockhausen was important for him in principle. Therefore, Zyklus fur einen Schlagzeuger (version 1 and 2), Refren fur drei Spieler and Kontaktewere part of the concept of the exhibition at the Foreign Art Museum. A sophisticated viewer would add Stockhausen’s dot-marked (staccato) compositions that “accentuate an individual sound or dot in all of its parametric dimensions as an independent agent”, as avant-guarde Gundaris Pone27 writes, whose musical compositions San Michele della Laguna (1969) and ossia (1968) Vīdzirde heard in Carnegie Hall in 1969 and then wrote COOOL28 on the program. Stockhausen’s rationalism intersects with oriental absorption, testified by “meditation texts” of the German musician: “Play sounds and consonances, play them and listen to their vibrations. – Play sounds and consonances, achieve that they would sound as far as possible. – If you hear something that appeals to you, then repeat it and play it better and better. – Listen to sounds around you so intensively that you yourself start vibrating in their rhythm…”29

Vīdzirkste vibrated in the rhythm of New York environment, and himself transformed into the structure of a picture, into the matter that charges space. The human scale is brought into this rhythm system by breath and pulse, by a body gesture to which form is attracted in spontaneous color splashes. Here is place for the rhythm of mind expressed in mathematical formulas or combinations of dot structures. Rhythm emerges in poetry meters and grows into a cosmic might in stellar photos – by the way, Vīdzirkste was a certified photographer of a Kodak company. And surprisingly, bank statistic cards fixing the flow of millions of dollars also fit in here. This is just the rhythm that determines the balance between thought, language and action. Rhythm became also the aspect of interpretation in TV film about Vīdzirkste (2007) produced by Jānis Rēdlihs and Maija Smildziņa.

“Such was Sigurds Vīdzirkste – spontaneous, unique, and constantly alert to cosmic rhythms. They were extremely vital for him (…). Once, he stopped in front of one of his large-size black-dot canvases, raised his finger and started as if conducting: one-two-three-four, one-two-three four…Following his fingers, just before our eyes, one after another four-star constellations started emerging and pulsating on the canvas. (..) While conducting, he mentioned numerology, he mentioned cabala mysticism. But then, as swiftly as before, he turned towards another small work placed just beside, with human-like golden reliefs at the sides and just a single small golden dot in the bare middle – a little bit aside towards the left upper corner – strewed upon.   Pointing at it, Sigis cast a capricious glance around and quoted the lines of Linards Tauns: “I am the center of the Universe /Joyful and wrong”.30

 

***

“In the name of our friendship I will go to You once more, this time with quite a little twist. Every event, every action has several stages, one of them is a final stage embracing everything.

Don’t we feel worst of all when reading some book we suddenly see that the last page or even the last line is missing in it? Everything read before seems to have lost its splendor, fades like a fallen leaf, which has no other future but oblivion, and vanishing slowly. Images remain, but their joint voice, their joint uniting chord is missing.

Don’t you think that the exchange of our opinions, which sometimes seemed to be only an ouverture, lacked something to avoid stealing of the black note of a dissonance into the performance of our   memories? The depiction of memories, sometimes rustling with the note of the song of restless rapids, actually is quite lyrical and full of flowers of youth, and it being such, true words of clear thoughts would be the best final chord.

Wishing You Godspeed – yours Sigurds.”31

 

 

1 Sigurda Vīdzirkstes pieraksti glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā. Pirmais rakstīts sliktā angļu valodā.

2 Šturma E. Kibernētika un glezniecība // Laiks. – 1968.–10. febr. – 3. lpp.

3 Vīdzirkstes darinātais Braila raksta latviešu valodas alfabēts glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

4 Soikāns J. Mākslas kritika un esejas: Rakstu izlase.- Toronto:Astra, 1983.–351.lpp.

(Kibernētika šodienas modernajā mākslā un Teodors Puciriuss).

5 Pone G. Jaunās mūzikas forma un doma: 1950 – 1966. // Jaunā Gaita. – 1967.– Nr. 62.

Pārpublicējums: Gundarim Ponem 75// Mūzikas Saules pielikums.- 2007. – Nr. 5.–21. lpp.

6 Sosīrs F. de. Vispārīgās valodniecības kurss // Kentaurs XXI. – 1999. – Nr.18.–81. lpp.

7 No vēsturnieka un dzejnieka J. Krēsliņa, vecākā, vēstules Vīdzirkstem 1961. g. 21. martā: [Kalmīte ] draņķis labi mālē un arvien labāk un nav izgājis uz smuku bildīšu taisīšanu; sakās esam Tavs skolotājs un par Tevi labi izsakās pat Tavā prombūtnē, kas jau labi.” Vēstule glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

8 Avens V. Sigurda Vīdzirkstes glezniecība // Vīdzirkste. 1928 – 1974. Piemiņas izstādes katalogs. – Rīga: Latvijas Mākslas muzeju apvienība. – 1995.–16. lpp.

9 Piezīmes glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

10 1962. gada 4. septembra vēstule. Glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

11 Krēsliņš J. Atmiņu fragmenti par Sigurdu Vīdzirksti // Vīdzirkste. 1928–1974.–24. lpp.

12 Šturma E. Divas skates // Laiks. – 1964.–11. janv. – 3. lpp.

13 Vēstules kopija glabājas Anitas Vanagas personiskajā arhīvā.

14 Klāvsons J. Divas pasaules // Laiks. – 1964.–9. sept. – 3. lpp.

15 Alekseja Kručoniha (Алексей Крученых) librets, Mihaila Matjušina (Михаил Матюшин) mūzika; pirmizrāde 1913. gada 3. un 5. decembrī.

16 Rosenthal S. Black Paintings. – Munich: Haus der Kunst, [2006]. – P. 7.

17 No Valdas Dreimanes vēstules 1962. gada 7. jūlijā. Vēstule glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

18 Pirmpublikācija žurnālā “Jaunā Gaita” 1961. gada 29. numurā.

19 Valda Dreimane 1962. gada 6. augusta vēstulē raksta: “Tavi melnie lielie Es”. Viņas pierakstā svarīgas ir brīvas rokas vilktās garās pauzējošās svītras, kā to redzam

1962. gada 27. augusta vēstulē:

„Vai tu gribi braukt uz faido vakaru?”

Sigurds –

–––– „Jā, es braukšu.”

Vīdzirkste –

Gunta Zariņa istaba. Skaļums. Svešums. Alus un runas par dzeju.

Viņam ir skaista seja ––––

Ielas. Ugunis. “Kur tad mūsu gleznotāji? Skatieties, cik Valda klusa”

Desmitā februārī ––––

“Es esmu nogurusi.”

Spānija. Pelēka zeme ––––

“Kur ir Vīdzirkste? ” – “Viņš šodien kaut kad aizbrauca, lika sveicināt.”

“Kur viņš ir, kur viņš bija tik ilgi?” ––––

Drūzma. Smiekli. Dzīvība ap mani, bet ne manī. Jeb tikai manī?

Galdiņi ar alus skārdenēm. Sešas melnas svītras ––––

Nakts. Rīts.

Vertikālas svītras.

Logs 20 x12

Pall Mall

Ielās mēs staigājam roku rokā.

Balti melns krekls”.

(Abas vēstules glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.)

20 L. Tauns vēstulē Vīdzirkstem raksta: “22. janvārī ’61. Sigi! Vēstuli jau es Tev nekad neuzrakstīšu, bet varētu mēģināt uzrakstīt 3 rindas. Pieliku pie sienas tavu bildi, pie Tavas gultas, “ar seju ne pret mani”. Vietas jau bija par maz, viens pilsētas rajons guļ uz loga sāna. Bilde izskatās tik satriecoša, ka Krēsliņš greizsirdībā pateica, ka man tā nederot, jo es no tām šļurām nekā nesaprotot. Pēc šīs recenzijas spriežot, Tu tātad esi škunstnieks, kam dullums licis braukt uz kankariem, kaut gan jau Renoirs teicis, ka uzgleznot var tepat Arlē (vai kur tur). Taču no sirds Tev novēlu jaunus apvāršņus un jaunas sievas un jaunas bildes, un jaunus mellos buļļus. Piedalījos dažos rītos un vakaros, turēdamies puslīdz, tikai vienā neturēdamies kājās, pēdējo gadījumu Tev pieminu tikai chroniķa (nē: chronista) precizitātē, bet gan ar morāli klāt: nedari Tu tā. Klāvsonēns bija nopublicējis dzejoli, nepārprotami par Tevi – Gleznotājs Maljorkā vai tml. Neesmu nekā sacerējis, atskaitot mazu gabaliņu ar lielu virsrakstu, ko publicēšanās nepieciešamībā pielieku klāt, arī lai “vēstule” iznāktu kuplāka. Jā, raksti, ko lai dara ar Tavu bildi, ka neietu bojā, vai nav kādas lakas, ko [nesalasāms] varētu pārvilkt pāri? Nē, nopietni ziņo par to.” Vēstulei pievienots dzejolis “Magdalēnas ielas madonna” ar piebildi: “Šis eksemplārs dedikēts Maljorkas Sigim”. Rakstniecības, teātra un mūzikas muzejs (turpmāk RTTM), Linarda Tauna fonds, K1/3, inv. Nr. 596804.

21 Vēstules kopija glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

22 Avens V. Sigurda Vīdzirkstes glezniecība – 18. lpp.

23 Sigurda Vīdzirkstes darba restaurācijas pase.  Sastādījusi Gunita Čakare. 2007.

24 Krēsliņš J. Pašportreti: Autori stāsta par sevi/ Sakārt. un red. T. Zeltiņš. – [Bruklina]: Grāmatu draugs, 1965.–192. lpp.

25 Magnetofona lentas ierakstu, kurā Linards Tauns lasa savu dzeju, Daina Danija dāvinājusi RTMM.

26 Krēsliņš J. Atmiņu fragmenti par Sigurdu Vīdzirksti. – 23. lpp.

27 Pone G. Jaunās mūzikas forma un doma. 1950 – 1966.–22. lpp.

28 Programma glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

29 Cit. pēc: Михаилов А. Музыкальная социология: Адорно и после Адорно// Адорно Т. Избранное: Социология музыки. Москва; Санкт-Петербург: Университетская книга, 1999.- С.406.

30 Saliņš G. “Es” nav pārdodams // Vīdzirkste. 1928–1974.–34. lpp. Citāts no Linarda Tauna dzejoļa “Es dzirdu koŗzēnu dziedāšanu”.  Kodētā veidā šīs rindas ir ietvertas raksta ievada otrajā Vīdzirkstes citātā. Pēc Māra Vilka, šifra atslēga ir šāda: 22 cipariem atbilst 22 latīņu alfabēta burti. Ja ciparus aizstāj ar burtiem, tad iegūst tekstu: ES ESMU PASAULES CENTRS PRIECIGS UN NEPAREIZS TALAB ES GRIBU AIZGRIMT UN APMALDITIES TA KA TILTI KA PUKES TA KA UDENI.

31 Uz rakstāmmašīnas Fallinbostelē [1950. gada?] 25. jūlijā rakstīta Vīdzirkstes vēstule, nenosūtīta, bez adresāta. Glabājas Dainas Dagnijas personiskajā arhīvā.

 

Foto / Photo: Normunds Brasliņš (3.-11. att. / fig. 3-11), Alise Zīverte (2. att. / fig.2.). LNMM – Latvijas Nacionālais mākslas muzejs / LNMA – Latvian National Museum of Art.

 

 

Anita Vanaga