quattor elementa

In the new project “Quattuor Elementa” Yuri Koval seeks to explore long iconography by representing the elements in the painting. In contrast to the classical interpretation of the theme such as allegories of the symbolic world which we find in the ancient, medieval, Renaissance or Baroque art, Koval tries to shift the point of interest from objective-public towards that of subjective-personal meaning.

Nature is always an inspiration for the artist. Since ancient times the artist keeps the continuous dialogue with human elements inspired by natural phenomena of the world. Properties of natural disasters – active fire and water and static air and land – are directly relevant for the temperament which defines the dynamic side of human mental being.

We all know that there are no identical personalities. The word “individual” (personality) represents they individuality and uniqueness of the human being. Psychologists say that we are not born as formed individuals, and become them gradually. We also have a kind of individual properties of the psyche, which are pretty conservative and stable. This is a kind of mental ground on which unique psychological characteristics of each of us will eventually grow.

Imagine two rivers – a quiet, plain, another – a steep, mountainous. First river is hardly noticeable, flowing smoothly and it does not have any spring bursts of intense turbulent waterfalls or spray. Another one is a complete opposite. She quickly rushes, water rumbles in it, rages, striking the stone into a lather. Features of the “nature” of these rivers depend on a number of environmental conditions. The same is observed in the dynamics of mental activity of different people.

In one case, Koval shows uniformity of the subject-element and its psychological and physical condition. He is always calm, unruffled and slow, his gestures are restrained, his language is quiet but his pace is firm. In another case we observe dynamics of the subject-elements. The artist has them as mobile, restless, loud, with random motions, various and rich face expressions, fussy and impatient.

Based on the principle of the medieval association of temperament and flood Koval shows the true nature of a kind of psychological tetramorph, where four forms are being replaced by four temperaments:

– Choleric (fire) – active and energetic, cyclic behavior, quick-tempered, impulsive and impatient.
– Sanguine (air) – agile, flexible, impressionable, yet not committed to the creative transformation of the world.
– Phlegmatic (water) – slow, persistent, rational and restrained, fundamental and detailed.
– Melancholic (earth) – passive, intuitive, sensitive and vulnerable.

In the late 18th century Kant describes temperament as mental peculiarity. These are his statements, relevant till nowadays, where the characteristics of temperament remain mostly psychological. Temperaments are characterized by a proportion not only physiological, but also psychological characteristics. According to Kant, it is the ratio of different feelings and different degrees of activity, and contemporaries – the ratio of the speed and power “spiritual movement” which Yuri Koval observed very well on his canvases.

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