The Silence bears the Sound

Interviewed by Masha Vsio-taki / IA "Dialogue" /
An exhibition under the name of "The Silence dimension" by Diana Vouba opened in the Erarta Museum on Friday. The exhibition features abstract works painted by the artist in 2012. Composer Iraida Yusupova specially has written music for six Vouba's paintings that now accompanies visitors throughout the viewing. The "Dialogue" reporter visited the exhibition opening and was able to talk to Diana Vouba on the topics of silence, sound, and the return to the past.
— Why did you decide to explore the theme of silence in your new works?
The silence opens up when one may look deep inside oneself. This is an initial, profound silence. While finding yourself in the fuss, in this race, when everything is accelerated and when everyone notices that the world is changing rapidly, it is sometimes useful to stop and try to understand why you're here. Through my paintings I give responses to the questions that I raise myself. For me it is important to exist in the present moment, to feel the instant on a scale of eternity.
One of the exhibition's paintings is entitled "The Silence dimension", the other – "Stillness". Are Silence and Stillness different concepts for you?
In general, they are different. Stillness exists where there is no sound, but where the thought is born, and Silence raises sound. I feel it this way. Imagine the space, within which we exist, with no objects. It is endless! Then we go on and fill this space with objects and completely cease to feel it.
How was the music for the paintings created?
Music is a part of the exposition. It was created by a wonderful composer Iraida Yusupova. Her music perfectly matches my paintings and is close to my heart. I am immensely pleased due to our co-creation.
Is it possible to view your paintings from this series without music?
They may be heard without music for everyone in their own way.
In the contemporary world there is a tendency to mix the Arts. Are you moving in this direction with the exhibition "The Silence dimension"?
If you look at the remaining series of my works, you will see that significant part of them are devoted to sound-to-color synaesthesia: "Dynamic Symmetry", "Cosmic frequencies rhythms" ... This is similar to how Scriabin heard the color. Apparently, the same thing is happening to me. When I was 10 years old they have bought a piano for me. I graduated from the music school in a year but I was not sent on to study music so I began to draw. Apparently, since then the sound and the color for me are inextricably linked. I do not play an instrument, but I try to replace this through painting. Nowhere near am I doing this because it is a trend of some kind. It just turns out this way.
Who had an idea of incorporating music into the exhibition and how did this idea appear?
I suggested making the sound track for several of my paintings to Iraida, and she graciously agreed.
The titles of this series' many paintings use words designating feelings: "Taste of Chocolate", "The smell of plowed field." Are you trying to portray something that is impossible to portray?
I'm trying to transfer the invisible in these paintings. Our thoughts, emotions, feelings are hidden from everyone, but those are an absolute reality, just not visible, and only a very insightful person, by looking into your eyes can understand what you are thinking. I have long formulated for myself that art is a visualization of the invisible. I remember how in Abkhazia we were sitting by the sea with the neighbors and the old man said: "For the first time in my life I see the sunset!" It is clear that he saw it more than once, but he just did not notice it. You know what I mean? There are some things that people do not notice, but these things fill out and enrich our lives. It is unfortunate when people walk past all of it. For instance, this series includes a painting entitled "The Sunrise". Such sunrise was seeing by lots of people but not a lot of them kept it in mind. I saw this dark purple sky and a bright gleam of light of the rising sun over the earth. Usually people remember the sunsets better than sunrises because mornings pass in the hectic, arrangements for work, and they miss the beauty of this moment. But those things are absolutely breathtaking! I want to share the beauty and the sensations that I feel at the sight of a particular phenomenon.
The Sound of Rain
What does this exhibition in St. Petersburg mean to you?
I believe that this exhibition in St. Petersburg is not accidental. In 1978, I studied here, lived in the family of great people. Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, went to Andrei Andreyevich Mylnikov's classes. In general, St. Petersburg is native to me, because I've spent my youth in Leningrad. What I experience now is a period of returning to myself, to my initial nature through the reinterpretation of the past. The process of individuation is the theme of my new project.
In the course of your interviews you said more than once that you are an Orthodox Christian. However, the online texts that you've formulated contain postulates that are close to non-religious rather than to the Orthodox postulates. How does Orthodoxy affect your art?
I'm interested in ancient Russian icons as the pinnacle of religious art. After careful examination of icon-painting the following series appeared: "The geometry of the spirit," "The iconostasis." In no other religion have I met such sacrificial love that belongs to Christ. Orthodoxy is something very dear to me, including that fact that I am an Abkhazian, because we have it there starting from the first centuries. The Abkhazian land is filled with signs and symbols. Today my temple is a place where I work and live.
Are your Abkhazian origins important to you?
I don't want to be a mankurt, not mindful of blood and kinship. A person that does not respect itself, its people is not able to love and respect any other nation. I am absolutely sure of it. This does not mean being a nationalist; it means being who you are and just remembering it.
Breath of the Sea