The Prophet by Alexander Pushkin
This three-dimensional mosaic is based on the painting by Russian artist Konstantin Vasiliev (1942-1976), who devoted his life to the study of Russian culture and mythology. His pseudonym, Konstantin Velikoross, proves his deepfascination with the subject. Throughout his career, he produced over 400 works of art in a variety of genres, from fantasy portraits to surrealist compositions. Many researchers agree that A Man with an Eagle-Owl, Vasiliev’s last painting, was the apogee of his career.
All the important symbols portrayed by Vasiliev were reinterpreted and reproduced by the craftsmen. At the old man’s feet lies a burning scroll with the artist’s pseudonym in an Old Russian script and the date of painting, which also happened to be the year of the artist’s death. The man is holding a torch, a whipand a wise owl and in front of him, there is a little sapling.
The image of an old man traditionally symbolised the wisdom of human experience in Russian culture, therefore the candle in his hand takes on an even greater significance. The artist placed two powerful symbols in the centre of the composition — a burning scroll and an oak sapling that is growing through it. Researchers and experts on Vasiliev’s art offer various interpretations, comparing the flame with artistic passion, and the sapling with the eternity and renewal. An eagle-owl is a universal symbol of wisdom, as even pitch-black night cannot conceal the mysteries of creation from him.
Put together, these powerful symbols reinforce the composition and give it a deepphilosophical meaning, which the craftsmen expressed in this three-dimensional mosaic. The ambiance of a magic winter forest is conveyed through the base of the sculpture, made of rock crystal druse with red and brown fragments. The warmth of the colour increases from the bottom up. The eagle-owl, with semi-transparent spread wings made of bright orange and brown agate, is the culmination of the composition.
I dragged my flesh through desert gloom,
Tormented by the spirit’s yearning,
And saw a six-winged Seraph loom
Upon the footpath’s barren turning.
And as a dream in slumber lies
So light his finger on my eyes, —
My wizard eyes grew wide and wary:
An eagle’s, startled from her eyrie.
He touched my ears, and lo! a sea
Of storming voices burst on me.
I heard the whirling heavens’ tremor,
The angels’ flight and soaring sweep,
The sea-snakes coiling in the deep,
The sapthe vine’s green tendrils carry.
And to my lips the Seraph clung
And tore from me my sinful tongue,
My cunning tongue and idle-worded;
The subtle serpent’s sting he set
Between my lips — his hand was wet,
His bloody hand my mouth begirded.
And with a sword he cleft my breast
And took the heart with terror turning,
And in my gaping bosom pressed
A coal that throbbed there, black and burning.
Upon the wastes, a lifeless clod,
I lay, and heard the voice of God:
“Arise, oh prophet, watch and hearken,
And with my Will thy soul engird,
Through lands that dim and seas that darken,
Burn thou men’s hearts with this, my Word.”