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Dmitry Plavinsky – one of the central persons of the Moscow «second avant-garde», an artist for whom the philosophical basis of creativity is no less important than the graphic one. All of Plavinsky's work is marked by his interest in the problem of the sign and the symbol. With equal attention to the western and eastern cultures, he sought their synthesis. Plavinsky studied the Orthodox spiritual and pictorial tradition, traveled to Central Asia, the Russian North, Armenia and Georgia, copied the ancient frescoes from Novgorod and Pskov, studied writing techniques and spiritual practices. He was also deeply interested in the classical Western pictorial tradition, primitive art, medieval mysticism. In the 60's and 70's, Plavinsky often refers to religious symbols and themes in painting and graphics (for example, in the works «Easter», 1964; «The Gospel of John», 1967; the triptych «Novgorod» 1974-1978 and others).
The presented work is performed in a complex multilayer technique. Combining oil, tempera, gypsum masses, Plavinsky overcomes the two-dimensional plane of the picture and emerges into the three-dimensional space of the relief. The image structure of the work is as multilayered as the technique of its execution. In front of us – the face of St. Nicholas, executed on a board. «Dark» painting looks like an old «casing», molded from gypsum (in icons, the casing is usually made of precious metals – gold, silver, copper), looked like it cracked with time. We, according to tradition, see only significant parts of the body of the saint through the slits – the face and hands. Plavinsky also reproduces a blackened frame with two round stamps filled with fragments of the text in the Church Slavonic.
Unlike the game attitude towards images, the Plavinsky-postmodernist is quite serious: he does not play with the signs of eras and cultures, there is no irony, no joke. He creates his own image filled with spiritual and metaphysical content and a cultural artifact performed with knowledge of iconographic Byzantine and Old Russian traditions. V