Lecture by Dmitry Kustanovich for the students of Saint-Petersburg University

On November 17, 2017, a lecture by the painter Dmitry Kustanovich was held for students of the Faculty of Art History of the St. Petersburg University of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Fragment of a lecture by D. Kustanovich for students of the Faculty of Art History of St. Petersburg UHSS:

Audience: What do you think the function of the painting is in: in the originative beauty or edifying informativity?

Dmitry Kustanovich: I believe that art should not impose, offer. And the viewer has the right to focus his attention or not.

Personally, I consider the main function of art to be the aesthetic function. And spiritual.

The question contains the concept of «originative beauty». I want to ponder. Why create something that has already been created? I've always wondered why we can spend hours listening to birds sing, and yet we get tired of repeating even the greatest piece of music. Or we can endlessly view a landscape. And we feel the time limit when examining the most brilliant picture. I don't want to talk about such a contradiction in terms of aesthetic perception right now. And I do not want to define the limits of such aesthetic categories as the beautiful, the sublime, the tragic, the comic, the ugly, etc.I was concerned with the question of our (human) limit. Why reproduce what becomes available when we open a window or go outside? I am not ready to thoroughly answer this question. Moreover, try to answer within the limits of my speech. And at the same time, at this point, I would like to emphasize that art must be able and learn to speak very, very subtly and delicately. Without any imposition. That is, in the conditions of free perception.

Politicization, educational or moral ideas give art a certain utilitarianism or even, if you want, vulgarity and platitude.

I have always been interested in the subject of «Aesthetics». First of all, in the understanding of perception and creativity. And it was interesting to raise such a question in this science, or rather, the concept of «aesthetics of silence». Will art be able to speak without the interference of any idea or even opinion? Or concepts?

I understand your question. I understand the topicality of this issue. I understand how idealistic my answer may seem. But in my creative work, this is important to me.

If it's interesting, you can invite me and we'll discuss it. Your opinion as specialists is important to me here.

Let me move away from the question a little and note that after observing and communicating with the audience, I realized that a person, in addition to the very fact of contemplation, really needs a person. And not a person, as a third person, but the opportunity to see this person in any work. It was Tarkovsky who said, «A person needs a person». But in my own way, understanding and applying the words in our case, I want to share with you this model. I choose the plot. For example, a tree. I signify it on the canvas. The viewer will recognize. What did I, as a painter, find in this tree? The viewer understands. Or doesn't understand. Why do I want this tree? The viewer understands or does not understand. Why do I draw this tree this way? The viewer understands or does not understand. How do I draw? Etc. And in our case, contemplation or, more precisely, reading acquires a pure dialogue, in which the painter (or rather, his artwork) and the viewer themselves are present. And depending on how far the viewer accepts it, understands it or does not understand it, based on this, I determine my usefulness and need. This is a separate topic. I want to emphasize that with the possibility of free contemplation, any work of art acquires its true value. Or in another way. Its selfsufficiency. Without any context, explanation, definition, and, moreover, formulated ideas, concepts, etc.