Aleksander Kharitonov


Aleksander Kharitonov
Personal website of the artist

Russia   English

Russia   English


The City of Rose Rocks

Memoirs of Jerusalem


The Lost City

The Knight’s Isle


Golden Evening


Irenic Noon

Flamy Fume of Blossoms

The Lonely Corsair



Birth of Prophet

      The Land of Hospitallers

Something not-wrought-by-hand. Aleksandr Kharitonov’s Painting.</p>

      Aleksander Kharitonov doesn’t organize frequent exhibitions. Although, unlike most painters, he has a sort of permanent exhibition. Three large rooms in official institution, headed by him, are occupied by large and medium-sized canvases. It’s safe to say that secretaries and visitors, heads of departments and couriers work in “Kharitonov’s museum”. Hardly is it possible to find another example of such fitting and fruitful use of one’s official position!

      Aleksander Kharitonov, a professional architect, is employed by a department of the Moscow Administration. A visit to this office may be equal to visiting a museum. Let’s try to describe as best as we can a small, but impressive core of arts, niched among archives and computers, racks and documents..

      Perhaps, the best critic of Aleksander Kharitonov’s painting is the master himself. He’s not only a painter, but also a philosopher and a writer. As he fairly put it in one of his lapidary and saturated essays, his impulsive canvases depict “something not-wrought-by-hand”.

      In Kharitonov’s works are displayed well-recognizable details of reality, which is beautiful (someone may even say – reality of Aleksander Green’s books). Although, scarlet sails and dreamy girls wandering along the shore are not visible there, exquisite flowers and birds’ wings, cities in hazy air and winged sailing ships make a graphic part of arts fairy show.

      However, the artist paints his fantastic visions not for the sake of indicating the connection of reality and imagination. He rather strives for being driven by some intuitions, which are more fundamental and eternal than by temporal world of reality.

      A canvas may be born out of previous epochs’ fragments, patinated utensils, plantain breaking through asphalt, out of newly just-blossomed flower, he says. Anyway, he is not a researcher of a real flowers, pots or cities. He’s attracted by phantom-cities, phantom ships, dissolved in the colored mist and having lost material roughness of the epoch. Most often, Kharitonov’s paintings express his dream of “eternal Mediterranean”, of Aegean, Phoenician or Maltese oecumene.

      Very often, the master’s paintings depict mythological cities, the names of which mark history, indicate to world religions, to in-depth mysteries of spiritual development of Mediterranean humanity. Such are Bethlehem (1994, canvas, oil, 100õ130),The city of Rose Rocks (2003, canvas, oil 80õ100), Memoirs of Jerusalem (1992, canvas, oil, 80õ120), Babylon (2003, canvas, oil, 60õ80).In the vault of “Kharitonov’s museum” we’ll find images of Ephesus and Mount Athos, Pompeii and other significant points in geography and history of the European culture.

      Other cities are not mentioned by name(«The lost city», 2005, canvas, oil, 100õ100). «Knights’ isle» (1993, canvas, oil, 60õ80) č «The Land of Hospitallers» (2003, canvas, oil, 100õ130)remind us of the isle of Malta and its capital La Valetta. This is a special point in the artist’s spiritual history and geography, because this is one of those locations, which is connected with Russia — even more tangibly —like Jerusalem, the Mount of Athos. Here was the residence of the Malthusian Order which had special relations with Russia in the eighteenth century and which influenced upon the esoteric mindset of enlightened society of the Russian Empire, and at the turn of the century elected as their head the Russian Emperor Paul the First, a person of strange mind and tragic fate. Probably, the picture of “Citadel” (2004, oil, canvas, 100õ100) also depicts the stronghold of the Order of magicians and visionaries at the fairy isle..

      However, “Kharitonov’s museum” is not a reserve of cultural science, religious studies or history. Here is located, let’s say, a spiritual delegation of this Malthusian Order. The artist doesn’t strive for depicting specific urbanistic works or archeologically authentic ruins. He argues his goal was creating “eternal city”, seen through the dust of centuries and blurred vortexes of reality. He wants to make the city exalted over irises more persuasive metaphysically, than its ante-image, lost among the hills and absinthial fields of history.

      Visionaries Novikov and Gogol - the searchers of “metaphysical city” could express themselves in this way. Mental images pass through every Kharitonov’s canvas. Vasily Kandinsky, Andrey Bely, Alexander Block and other researchers in “different principles” were well aware of the term “thoughtforms”, coined by the English esoterics of late 19-early 20th centuries and translated into Russian as “ģūńėåōīšģū”. It indicated those emanations, which reach our perception in form of almost recognizable and semi-material “phantoms”, but don’t transfer to dimension of heavy and dark matter. They are unsubstantial, flame-colored, airy, ineradicable – they are descendants of Plato’s ideas and mystical “light of the Mount Fabor” described by medieval Byzantine and Russian Orthodox mystics.

      In Aleksander Kharitonov’s paintings airy and semi-transparent formations represent as if condensations of spiritual emanations, almost transforming into tangible objects. But they don’t turn into real flesh, real “creature material”. They only evoke in memory light, sparkling and exquisitely freakish creatures of nature, primarily flowers and birds. Certainly, it would be wrong to search in Kharitonov’s metaphysical cities real bouquets, florescent fields or aviaries with pheasants. “Thoughtforms” are superfusing and fluctuating, sometimes flying to pieces from the centre of composition, sometimes sweeping diagonally. They remind of a different reality, where by the expression of the master, solemn light is prevailing.

      The artist appeals our eyesight, but aspires to give us an impression of super-sensitive existence. That’s why ornithological and botanical metaphors are inevitable and relevant. The painting «The Year of Cock» (1994, canvas, oil, 80õ60)refers to a variegated and strong-voiced bird, and in the abundance of opalescing green, aureate and red strokes a spectator would like to see something cockish. But anyway, this is purely abstract painting, and since its emergence abstract painting was especially sensitive to search of metaphysical creatures, to gleams and voices of invisible. In this sense, Kharitonov follows the traditions of Vasily Kandinsky, Mark Rotko, German Sterligov, George Mathieu and other hunters for different principles in arts. The twentieth century in Europe, Russia and America paid a great tribute to these searches and the results were rich and fruitful.

      «The Golden Evening» (1992, canvas, oil, 55õ45) is not merely a reminiscence on the evening passed in contemplation of the dawn among luxurious florescent plants. This picture is about a certain “thoughtform” growing and ramifying in soul – originally, rough and blunt and turning – as it grows — more sophisticated, filled with ardent overtones and transparent.

      Conjectures on flowers and birds necessarily arise as we consider the paintings “White, blue, red” (1993, 100õ130, canvas, oil). Birdy circumvolant envoy of thin worlds appears through splashes, flashes, thawing of the coldest and hottest colors of the palette «Elf», 1996, canvas, oil). The painting “And here is the Sun’s ray» (1994, 100õ130, canvas, oil) stimulates thinking of flood of jubilant light breaking into the fairy orchard, bringing forth resuscitation and jubilation among its population – birds, elfs and some inconceivably glittering butterflies. However, these associations of worldly mind, attached to realities of the countryside land plot (“six hundred square meters”) in this instance only slightly and indirectly touch upon the heart of the matter.

      The heart of the matter lies in the fact that “orchards”, bouquets and flowerbeds of Aleksander Kharitonov distantly testify to great myth of humanity, known to pagans as “gold age” myth and to Christians as a Biblical story on Creation and existence of the Garden of Eden, in which man and nature were sinless, unmalicious, non-violent and didn’t know of death.

      «Vegetative mythology” is the most abundant layer of the master’s art. He admires and delightfully pictures out vegetative and airy “thoughtforms” penetrated with light and opalescing with rainbow colors. They are reflected in «Pacifying Noon» (1996, canvas, oil, 100õ130), č «Flamy Fume of Blossom» (2000, canvas, oil, 60õ85), and Motley grasses (2003, canvas, oil, 100õ80) and many other paintings. Kharitonov is the author of a series of pictures under the general title “Herbs of Russia” painted in 2004. It would be naive to look for real chamomiles and spearworts in them. Of course, the question is of flora of a different “metaphysical” Russia, illuminated with the light of the Mount of Fabor, penetrated with pure light of supreme verities.

      This is one of the lines of Kharitonov’s art. Imagining him as a fairy-teller and dreamer of purity and virginity of the primordial spiritual being would be erroneous. In Kharitonov’s museum we discover different signs. Vortexes and shadows, reminding of the presence of different forces, energies of darkness and imperious insatiability emerge there. Probably, that’s the meaning of his painting «The Last Flight» (1991, canvas, oil, 55õ45). «Eclipse» (1992, canvas, oil 60õ85) points to world catastrophe, to drama knotting and scattering the florescent branches of the Garden of Eden.

      In Kharitonov’s works, the idea of world cataclysms is usually linked to the presence of water, the waves, hurricane and wind, bringing bloodcurdling masses of water, “cataracts of heaven”. Let’s take for instance «The lonely Corsair» (1991, canvas, oil, 60õ85). Among master’s works, there are not too many paintings with such elements and storms, but they play a significant role. «The Ark» (2003, canvas, oil, 40õ50) and «Santorini» (2004, canvas, oil, 80õ100) belong to them. In the last case we observe world catastrophe in form of frightening conglomeration of flame and water. Flame ejections literally break forth out of the centre of the picture, threatening to smash into pieces the buildings of the antique city. Even mightier are elliptic vortexes mixing the elements of heated air and bluish water body.

      Obviously, in creativity of abstract, but so intelligible artist the theme of “Creation of the world” and the “Garden of Eden” matches the second principal subject of World Abramic religions: the theme of “the Last Judgment”. Perhaps, the central work of this apocalyptic line is «The Birth of Prophet» (1993, canvas, oil, 100õ90). In the lower part of this composition, through abstractions of the artist, we guess a bld sensation of paradisal Mediterranean – calm waters of lagunas and rocky shores. However, wild energy of ruins is splashing out of the centre of this not very large, but monumental picture. Spurts of flame, floods of water, mixed with the ruins of buildings, rocky lumps, sands of rampant deserts are likely to collapse upon quiet blissful living.

      The Prophet is born. And as we know from the Holy Scripture, the deed of the prophet is to warn people that their blissful existence is perishable, that after arrival of Evil and Death to our Universe one should expect great misfortunes.

      These are the boundaries of the Moscow artist’s art. He is a master of happy visions, where wings of birds of paradise are quivering and primordial fairy flowers are trembling. He hears the voice of Prophet, who doesn’t know quiet, because life as it is will not have a good ending.

      Probably, due to this reason, like his spiritual ancestors of the 18th and 19th centuries A.Kharitonov aspires so zealously to express sensation of light metaphysical city, the citadel of light and purity, where flowers of Garden of Eden could be protected from the coming End of the world.

Īlga Sementsova.