Russian avanguard and Briansk region
(compiled by Mark Belodubrovsky).
Bryansk: Izdatelstvo BGPU,
1998, 383 pp. [in Russian]
Books are currently being published more and more frequently in Russia devoted to its unique spiritual, cultural centers situated on its vast territory. Such publications are original argument against existing stereotype (especially inherent to Russian mentality) that most important artistic and scientific novelties appear, as a rule, in major cities - focus of intellectual, creative life of the nation. The book "Russian avanguard and Briansk region" provides evidence that spirit of innovation and rebelliousness was inherent not only to two Russian capitals - Moscow and St.Petersburg.
The book includes materials on people, born in Briansk, town on the border of Russia and Belorussia, and Briansk region. All the people are common in their participation in avanguard searches in Russian music, literature, science. One of these people is composer N.Roslavec - creator of "new system of sound organizing", one of musical techniques of XX th century. Another one is sculptor and architect N.Gabo - one of foundators of constructivism and kinetism. We can also recall writer N.Dobychin - creator of highly interesting writing styles, unifing emptiness and tritness,platitude of life with its exsistential and in the same time absurd essence. The book compilers did not limit themselves to considering avanguard as artistic and aestethic trend of 10-20s of XX th century. They understand avanguard also as the very spirit of creative darings, active seraches for new systems of world vision. This criteria provided for widening list of "Bryansk avanguard" personalities: artist A.Levit, poet and mistic D.Andreyev, scientist A.Chizhevsky were added to it. M.Belodubrovsky, compiler of the articles collection and introduction author, accounts appearing all these people in Bryansk region for special rebellious spirit inherent to the region, the one of brigands, free-thinkers, poets and scientists-innovators.
The articles collection provides multilateral view on representatives of "spiritual avanguard". One can find there biographical materials, scientific articles analyzing creative concepts, first publications of musical and literary pieces.
Most versatily and deeply presented in the book is creativity of N.Roslavec: from survey of his milieu and friends to analysis of syntetchords technique - the predecessors of serial and modal techniques. Roslavec individuality is presented both dialectically and integral in Roslavec theoretic works: on educational task of music and its service to proletariat, on A.Schonberg's "Piero Lunare", on his own creativity... Undoubtedly, readers attention will be attracted by book sections devoted sculptor-constructivist Naum Gabo, painter Alfred Levit and writer L.Dobychin. These artists are less known at homeland than other ones presented in the book. Thats why information on their fates, pictures of their works, reminiscenses of their contemporaries, publication of Dobychin's unknown miniatures are of special significance. One fills sincere interest of book authors and deep respect to individualities of fellow-townsmen in the authors aprroach to materials selection.Among the materials brilliant literary critic material by Yuri Sheglov attracts attention. It is devoted to original style of writer Dobychin featuring original tangle of avanguard techniques with elements of exsistential attitude to reality.
Succesfully supplement each other materials on two most prominent representatives of daring spirit - Daniil Andreyev and Alexandr Chizhevsky. The first one is poet, spiritual visioner. The later is scientist, poet. But both are creators of unique cosmogonical theories, changing dramatically habitual conceptions. Being aware of the figures reputation in the world culture authors of the book did not aim at detailed analysis of their creativity. Authors aim was to demonstrate a kind of nucleus of unique person. Opposite methods were used to achieve the aim. D.Andreyev became the focus of the dialogue between philosopher, theologian, literary critic, artist and others. A.Chizhevsky's creativity is represented via monological description of his basic scientifical and poetical achievements.
The final part of the book is devoted to the survey of the modern art festival have being held in Bryansk since 1986.
In general, the book Russian avanguard and Briansk region sets thinking about colossal potential of Russian spiritual life. This is the spirit living and creating in spite of circumstances and conditions of life. It is enough to read the biographies of outstanding sones of Bryansk region to understand that creativity is hardly possible in such conditions... Or may be it is do possible because forces one to create another virtual universes so unlike to reality? Book about avanguardists of spirit born by Bryansk region soil sets thinking once more on this secret of spirit, on national Russian specificity of creativity.