ICONOSTASIS OF LIGHT
The signature compsed by the artist in the form of Gothic tracery made up of the initials of his name and surname: AS-D, shaped as St. Peter's boat, and set on an equal-armed Greek cross.
STAINED GLASS is a picture drawn with lead and iron bars, constantly painted with the light of coloured glass, and stone-walled in the architectural framework. A wall, metal, glass, and... light. This diversity of materials requires a separate and only stained glass specific visual form. Each day and hour, even each minute, continuously transforms these images of light in glass and metal — imperceptibly illuminating it, glowing and igniting, and so burning ... a fleeting cloud in the sky extinguishes it with an unhearable breath and saturates with completely different depths…… different at dawn, different in evening. Stained glass – while changing itself – changes the ambient atmosphere and is the starting point for interior design. They fit stained glass not only to decorate interiors, but to close windows and to help those who come in to maintain focus that would mobilise them to see the world and themselves anew.
Naturalism is able to neither show, nor promote a conceptual content. Descriptive representation of things and situations can only satisfy encyclopaedic interest, and offer the shallow pleasures of watching, and even possessing, something that keeps living its own life without prejudice to our convenience, and doesn’t require us to take a stand. Thus the decorative layout and abstract approach, the expression of drawing and colour, in a word everything that allows metaphor, synthesis, liberty of shortcuts and interpretation in visual storytelling, all that can carry a story to the plane of call — should be a feature of sacred stained glass.
Matter of fact no other stained glass has really worked well. No bourgeois themes and attempts at the transfer of easel painting’s naturalism and its secession to this imagining technique have produced satisfactory results. Nevertheless the abstract approaches, so stained glass-specific, are still recognised as disloyalty to the so called «truth». Such demand of verism, especially in religious art, results from a profound confusion, an overbearing neglect of the world of human emotions, and a foolish perception of everything in templates of physical existence.
It’s characteristic that those who demand the imitative truth do not resent even the most arbitrary interpretation of reality, and complete abstraction in ornamental systems. Well, the ornamental abstraction doesn’t demand anything from us either, and it follows the pace of its own life completely indifferent to everything. Whereas script is this unique ornament that doesn’t live for itself. This is an ornament man-made not only, and not primarily, for decoration. Man and WORD make an indivisible whole. Besides images, characters, looks, and gestures – a letter — even most calmly treated, is still an alive and expressive piece of visual art. It imperceptibly captures our mind and abducts it to the world of the writer, which is so original just because it is the reader himself, who co-creates prompted images.
An accurate and colourful stained glass design, strict as to the shapes and dimensions of the window opening, is developed in the real life size. Content and layout of a stained glass window is determined by the architectural setting, as well as the function of the object or its part. Strength of glass and lead, and decorative glass cutting technique affect the proportions and drawing of details and the whole. Iron structure integrally belongs to the composition. Lead and iron figures are calked from cartboard to two sheets of paper at once. The thinner paper underneath will be the map, and the templates for glass are cut out of the thicker one. A dual elastic knife following the lead figure discards a paper chip corresponding to the thickness of lead profiles in between the glass pieces. Once cut out, the templates are placed on the map – each in its own, uniquely numbered place. Glass pieces are selected after the colour cardboard and cut from coloured glass panes after the templates, and each piece together with its own template is again placed in its marked place.
The glass colour scale is basically unlimited. Glass panes may be of different thickness — they may be smooth or with rough surface, poured at glassworks manually or mechanically rolled, single-layer, or multi-layer and coated. The last one may be treated with acids to partially etch superimposed coloured planes or a figure. The lead figure may be additionally supplemented with graphics brushed on with a paint rubbed of a metal oxide on gum arabic and vinegar with water. Each glass piece is immediately and invariably returned to its place uniquely numbered on the map. After this map they are later glued with plasticine or wax to an easel — a frosted glass pane for correction of the whole picture and selected glasses. Where a glass piece or a set of pieces is not compatible with the overall picture, respective templates are picked up from the map, and new pieces are cut for replacement. The coloured cardboard that is a glass selection plan is actually the first step of the creative colour composition. No paint on paper, however, can express the effects and colours of coloured glass. Following such adjustment the whole thing is «patinated» with a gum-based paint with glaze addition. Drawing in patina, usually glittering only, involves wiping off the patina layer from some glass areas, and further enhances some drawing and textural effects.
The already composed panes are carefully laid, in lots, in the sequence of the picture, on small gypsum-insulated iron plates, on which they are fired in a kiln. In a temperature that brings the glass to intermixture condition the graphics' and paitna's figures set. The binder is burned off, and the paint's metal with the glaze are sinking into the glass by their own weight. When taken off from the kiln they are cooling down slowly. Sometimes they crack when cooling, and then they have to be replaced by applying the whole procedure again. When the glass has cooled down, the panes are once more, the last time already, laid on the map, but now without the templates. The glasses are set, added one after another, according to the map's layout. They are connected to each other by being set in lead profiles of varying shapes — from 6 to 14 mm thick. The thicker profiles may be used for delineation of individual settings, figures, and scenes, while details inside scenes and figures are drawn with the thinner ones. The lead profiles' sections are bound by tin-soldering on the stained glass' both sides. Then lead lips are bent close to glass pieces, which may differ in thickness. Sections so assembled are both-side sealed with red-lead putty. Before the putty dries up, the whole stained glass is cleaned with chalk, sawdust and rags.
The only thing left now is to pack the stained glass cautiously and skilfully, each section separately, in wooden boxes lined with straw, and ship to its destination, where it is set in windows with iron bars, and immured. And only there its author would like to make final adjustment.
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