Blesok no. 30, January-February, 2003
Essays


Self-portraits of the genius
Albrecht Dürer

Ričard Ivanišević


Germanic people are not considered cosmopolitan, but the art and culture of these controversial Nordic people is (luckily!), cosmopolitan. Even those who claimed that Schopenhauer and Nietzsche did not express cosmopolitanism (and such, unfortunately, exist even today), realized, to have been mislead. The German geniuses– not those average Germans, but those who equal the Cosmos (Hegel, Spengler, Heidegger, Wagner, Heine…) -are dedicated to the Universe. Also, among those who confirm this, is Albrecht Dürer, who saw Germany as too narrow, and asked for the breadth of the world, to finally reach the state of world artistic cosmopolitan as a person, as a painter and in his work, where the values are limitless– that is the spiritual vision, aesthetic preference of this artist– an art encyclopedia, with a perfected erudition in his drawings which examines the psyche in details, the spiritual phenomenon in its absolute. He makes sense out of everything. He governs the essence of the spiritual. He governs spirituality.
     Powerful and predominant, haunted and persecuted by the mysterious genes of the genius (like Goethe), creates infinity. And there, limitations do not exist. Only distinction between the secular and the divine. Boundaries do not exist. His cosmopolitan passport says: Albrecht Dürer – Everywhere admissible – Always precious – Lasts forever!!!
     But, to consider the chronicler from a few centuries ago, and to reminisce about the Nordic Chronicles, where between the lines and notes of the anonymous scrivener, dim and blurry, as half-asleep, images of a single image appear before me. Image that delivers various formulations and perceptions, general outlook and experiences, year after year, from one age to another, from one self-portrait to another. That image is the image of the genius. The one that created the numerous shapes found in the world eminent art establishments and in the famous art collections. The spirit of his works is never erased from the memory. His mission is to be an art Messiah. I envisage it, sometimes I sense it, and often, that art image of the missionary and messiah– Albrecht Dürer visits me. In the Nordic Chronicles (imagined and conceived) a few stories are found. They are only dedicated to someone like Dürer (and a few others), to someone like Matthias Grunewald or Edward Munch, or maybe only just to those who also deserve it like the expressionists Emil Nolde, Erich Heckel…
     But, let’s return to the promised stories about the genius…
              

I

The pollen of this monstrously– mysterious creator is somewhere in the Eytas’ hungarian “wasteland”, through the domicile of the furious szardas, where Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsodies” will dream, among the poetic corridors of Sándor Petofi…

(About) a word from the name of his native town. The beginning, the choice and the origin of his talent, his glory.

     “Berg”, translated, usually means just coast. And the coasts are unusual, untranslatable, unpredictable, lonely in their temptations. Over there, in the north, the word “berg” is found as “fjord”, and whispered as “now”. And to me, it resembles an enormous iceberg, and small icebergs from the North Sea sliding on it, there, in the vicinity of the mainland, with their naïve curiosity have paid for their captivity on earth. Anchored, have lost their anonymity, the whitish iciness, and those who could not forget the kiss of the water and the shore, jealously kept, as a tearful link, the memory of Berg – Heidelberg, Konigsberg, Wittenberg all around Strindberg, often at Swedenborg…
     And in Nuremberg?
     I stroll, lonely along his coast, going through my thoughts, aiming my reproachful look towards the gloomy chronicles, spattered with speckles of dead cataclysms… Leaving those fossils I get chronically disgusted!
     Maybe this town, these streets where the rain murmurs, the snowflakes glitter, and the sun is anemically pale– glares only here, where the eye lids are freed from the twitch and wide open before the Dürer cathedral. And what are the cathedrals after all? Compared to his splendor, created not to be a humble canons’ temple, but a homo anticanonicus. Self-portraits which are tremendous psychological tractates.

II

Imagine a Gothic house in Nuremberg, with narrow windows, and the light desperately trying to penetrate through the semi-dark room. And in it, little space, a lot of silence, suffocating smell of tallowy candles, partially uncovering the face of a small silhouette, still, almost a child, absent and day-dreaming, in his small fingers holding a piece of paper and a piece of silver pencil.
     To this thirteen-year-old child a magic discovery is –the mirror, with his big eyes staring at it, the inquisitive look into his own image, from which questions emerge and answers are not found. But answers will come, he will own the masterpieces that will follow, accompanied by the glory that originates from the genius.
     … Dreamily and dreamt: “Yes, that is me, Dürer, transferred from the real into the mirror space…”State of power and predominance, state of personal wizardry and a gift for enchanting the surrounding, for transmuting the ordinary world into unusual sagas of images. And this strange, wondrous meeting should be remembered, should stay, should be looked at, be owned… And the paper is no longer white and empty. The smart little head crowned with blond hair, revived, along with the tender body in a night shirt out of which appears the tiny hand with tiny fingers that will grow just as his art.” Little Dürer left so as not to forget this in his dream, but to dream forever.
     Strasbourg. The already twenty-two-year-old Dürer, in a dark background and the only luminance is he, himself. Obsessed by observations he carried from Nuremberg to Colmar, from Basel to Venice. And, here, in Strasbourg, virtuously utters: “My works will be created upon the Providence’s’ decision.” Typical and justifiable solely for a genius, for the one who is predestined to be just that.


III

We are in a perfectly fresh room, through the window I observe a landscape of the land, and besides it the slow course of the river, colored by the surrounding coasts, above which the snow-layered mountains merge with the dark-blue sky… And by the window, seemingly indifferent and serene, the twenty-eight-year-old Dürer. The same partially exposed profile that refuses to completely reveal itself to us. I see a nicely shaped head, covered with black and white hat under which the thick, dark, reddish-and-gold hair spreads and unfolds, freely curved in a spiral, just like his pathways on which he was flying, burning, but he did not sink, he did not die. Gifted by immortality, and crowned with it.
     The face shines with some exalted pride. The oratorical lips are silent, and the beard around them is only to emphasize his powerful appearance. And the eyes are eyes, which unveil, condemn, approve and beseech.
     Yes, remember “The four horsemen of the apocalypse?”: isn’t that one of the most dramatic, most ambiguous and most complex works of art?

              

IV

Suddenly vacuum, silence, and in that void I collided with the thirty-year-old Albrecht Dürer in the face. Those deep, ascetic pupils in which I perceive the zenith (because the zenith foresees the end), confuse me. The glow from those pupils will radiate a beam in “Faust”, “Eroica”, and “The Magic Mountain”…
     Dürer is present and exists everywhere. He owns a lot of art stories and records of his genius: from Paris to St. Petersburg; in Albertina and Brera, in the galleries and museums of Munich and Dresden, in Nuremberg – where the art sagas similar to those of the Nibelunges, begin. Only his are not myths and cults, but art rituals and art legends, not about a German, but about an artist-cosmopolitan, just as his art is– a cosmopolitan art!!!


Translated by: Jana Kunovska




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