The Fourth Dimension of Oleg Drobitko

The Fourth Dimension of Oleg Drobitko

To every thing there is a season, and a time
to every purpose under the heaven…
A time to cast away stones and a time
to gather stones together…

 An artist with the creative imperative in his soul chooses a time to create “every thing” under his heaven.
It is said that Japanese artist — philosophers traditionally change their names three times in their lives in order to get to know themselves and the world better through this new “self”. Of course, no matter how often an artist changes his name, how his new self sounds, it will still be the same artist, with his own experience of life, his God given talent and the mastery of his craft attained through his great works. The paradox is, however, an artist can only remain himself by constantly changing. Only by changing and always combining his changes with the invariably high constants of existence, can a master firmly establish himself in life and in art as a master.

Today we have the same, yet different Oleg Drobitko! With biblical concentration and a subtle feeling for time, the artist has gathered the stones he needed and has used this building or rather decorative material with the precision, care and sure tranquility of a jeweller in order to build the stage for his “Theatre of Stone.”

The simple little bricks of that universe in which the master — builder Oleg Drobitko has developed his unusual architectural activity are of course only metaphors, figurative symbols that can be understood at first glance. But that is just it: radiating an enchanting, paradoxical mystery, the artistic compositions of Oleg Drobitko are materials too complex for the viewer to take in at first glance and quickly apply to himself.

Easily read literary inversions and paradoxes on which the artist usually constructs his beautiful compositions, full of internal movement and softly ironic lyricism, are just the sources of Oleg Drobitko’s artistic substance. The stuff of his epic compositions is far broader and deeper. In order to understand the essence of the wonderful intellectual and artistic “game of stones” undertaken by Oleg Drobitko, the players have to activate all their spiritual and artistic resources, for the game is not an easy one. The fact that Drobitko’s paintings are sculpted and his sculp­ture is pictorial has been said long ago and not just once. It does not appear to be such a serious conceptual paradox that the symbolic stone material from which his composi­tions spring is not at all stony in its physical, indisputable reality, but is produced by the artist in wood, metal, textile, lumps of paint and illusory strokes that only imitate the steadfastness of the material. Splendid master of technique that he is, Drobitko has presented the amazed public with something else.

Very well then, perhaps it is like this: here we have stone, the symbol of three — dimensionality and everything built of it is also three-dimensional. Therefore, by virtue of the symbolism chosen by the artist, everything in his world is volume­tric, spatial, ambiguous, and so on and so forth. Well, that is getting closer but not close enough, and not volumetric enough thoughtwise for Oleg Drobitko, who feels cramped by three dimensions! If Drobitko needs a three dimensional image and the concept of three dimensions, then only in order to contrast it with his own fourth. His “game of stones” exactly obeys the logic of this fourth dimension.

What is its essence and measure? What is the sacred magic and metaphysical secret of Oleg Drobitko’s game? How do the stone clouds bewitch and stone-leafed trees enchant with weightless stony birds on their branches, whose song is heard by the marble clouded image dissolving in the colour of the universal inspiration of spring? Why does the strange stone autumn cast such profound philosophical sorrow, in the space of which, between twisted branches (are they of reinforced concrete?) there are two mysterious figures, linked by the community of the autumnal state and existence? How does an enigmatic human face, rhythmically composed of neat little bricks, summon us to a confidential intercourse, tete—a—tete? What on earth makes the sculptured violin — flute, crafted with a jeweller’s precision from the same brikks, begin to ring at the touch of our glance, as though touched by a bow?

Thus it is with each pictorial or sculptural composition in the cycle. Stones gathered by Oleg Drobitko resound with the aliveness of nature, the bricks of the universe are transformed into the flowers of the universe. It makes no difference whether the material is brick or aeolian harp, a beautiful musical sound rings forth; if that sound originally was produced by the inner voice of the master himself, the real source of that sound is the artist’s soul. Yet why instead of a tree in blossom, flying clouds, singing birds, live human flesh are we presented in the end with stone — the unconcealed opposite of all this? How are we to understand the strange way Drobitko oversteps material and philosophical boundaries; how can we explain his artistic impulse to materialise the spirit of things and phenomena through sharply unrelated images antonymous to this spirit and even other matter?

The creative enigma of Oleg Drobitko consists of the fact that his fourth dimension, his artist’s philosophy is actually based on the concept of paradox, the logic of the unity of disparity. Drobitko’s compositions are monumentally intricate, epically current, silently sonorous, materially spiritual. This sharp-thinking master’s creative method is based on comprehending artistic space as a single environment where matter and spirit coexist. Everything is life. In this new cycle of compositions, the image of stone personifies not the statics but the dynamics of the building, that is, creative process, indeed even more the dialectics of this process. The metaphysical secret of the spiritual materialises artistically with Oleq Drobitko through the dialectics of knowing the material world: the world of ordinary things, people and phenomena As though by themselves, out of the stones collected by Oleq Drobitko (like the Snow Queen’s pieces of ice) a paradoxical combination of words forms a meaning — metaphysical dialectics. It may sound awkward, like “a circular square.” But such is the essence and form of the latest philosophical and creative paradox presented to us by the artist: the fourth dimension of his works.

Oleg Drobitko is fond of including arches in his compositions. The last basic keystone solemnly placed by the builders of an arch is the pledge of its indestructibility and airy, soaring resi­lience. This symbolic stone, outwardly indistinguishable from the others, is the most important and thanks to it, a heavy stone arch soars unnaturally into space, flying weightlessly above the ground. Only those who “gather stones” know the secret of this and similar stones. Drobitko has comprehended this mystery.

Of course, this stone and other similar ones is no more than a symbol, just a symbol! But then, that is how it is in Ecclesiastes.

Arkadij Klenov

(Translated by Suzanne Frank-Kilner)