Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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5 / Cosmology and Belief

Forest as a Temple
Forest as a Temple
Artist / Origin Vitaly Komar (Russian, b. 1943)
Date 2007
Material Tempera and oil on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions H: 72 in. (183 cm.), W: 36 in. (91.5 cm.)
Location Collection of artist
Credit Courtesy of the artist

expert perspective

Vitaly KomarArtist

Forest as a Temple

» Vitaly Komar (Russian, b. 1943)

expert perspective

I believe in immortality of the soul since I was a child. It was kind of my secret because it was not exactly politically correct say it in Russia in the seventies, because Russia was atheistic country, officially atheistic, totalitarian, atheistic country. In my family many different religious tradition exist. My father and mother was atheist and member of Communist Party. But father grow up in Christian tradition and mother in Jewish tradition. I remember after Stalin death, my grandfather, my mother’s father, was a little happy because after Stalin death government established two day weekend—Saturday and Sunday. He took it as a symbol of peaceful coexistence of Judaism and Christianity. But I remember since my childhood and our neighbors, it was a few people of Islam—some Muslim people, some Tatars—many of them living in Russia, in Moscow as well. And I knew that for Islam the Friday is a holy day. Many years ago when I was child, this same idea come to my mind.

I tried to create the peaceful coexistence of different visual symbols—Judaism, Christianity, Islam—and I believe through the enjoyment of the beauty people understood the concept of the peaceful coexistence of the different concepts of spirituality. I tell you why I am so involved in this project Three Day Weekend—I mean Friday for Islam, Sunday for Christianity, and Saturday for Judaism. Because I am conceptual artist, involved two different concept—concept of spirituality and also some kind of politically social concept of the three-day weekends and of four days working week. It’s a two different kind of social political ideas of utopia, of the social utopia. And also spirituality because three days united three monotheistic religion.

This canvas is represent of my New Symbolist work and project, which related to Three-Day Weekend project. Here is a representation of the forest as a temple. I believe now the time for art go back to spiritual sources, searches. In the center of this forest, which looks like temple, you see the kind of window but it’s also distance between trees. And you see the symbol of three monotheistic religion, menorah as Judaism, moon Islam, and the cross you can see as well—all of them united at a kind of natural born stained glass of the sky between trees. You know, we in twentieth century, the century of the progress and technology, we lost feeling of unity with nature, we lost perception of the nature as a temple. And I tried to represent this feeling.” 


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