De rena färgernas mästare

När man tar del av Elémire Zollas välavvägda reflektioner över färgvalörernas interioriserande verkan i Nicholas Roerichs målningar (i The Hermetic Journal 34, vintern 1986) är det inte utan att man slås av vissa likheter med Ivan Aguélis beskrivning av den schweiziska himlen med dess ”förvånansvärda, underbara blåa färger” där ”[b]ergen likna vita, orörliga moln” och ”[d]e branta stupen fånga solljuset på samma sätt som genomskinliga pokaler innesluta gyllne viner”. Båda texterna är små prosalyriska provkartor på hur en speciellt intensiv upplevelse av naturens orörda majestät kan bidra till klarhet och lyftning i vårt inre landskap. Och båda förmår de därmed ytterligare berika vår upplevelse av den sublimt monumentala målarkonsten hos Roerich – en de rena färgernas mästare.

»What strikes one first in N.K. Roerich’s paintings is an austere, ascetic, and yet heady intensity. As one takes them slowly in, their technical subtleties start unfolding. The dazzling gamut of colours appears to be strictly keyed to deep violet – not the flower’s velvety plush, but the sleek glaze of amethysts. One notices also that the superb, unassuming draughtsmanship is playing strange games with us. We are made to feel that each stone is pressed down upon the earth by its unwieldy, harsh, crushing mass, and yet at the same time outlines are threaded out so neatly, so finely, that the most towering shapes seem to be weightless, in suspension, as if part of a scenario. Eventually we become aware of the complexities of the lighting.

All kinds of illumination are drawn upon. Sunshine, from glowing orange and regal purple to stealthy twilight mauve. A steely moonlight. Starlight. But also a unique range of uncanny nightworld luminescences – the peculiar greens of burning coals, the faint glimmer at the heart of onyxes and black diamonds, the silvery linings of ice and snow in lightless crevices, the blue scintillation of sugar crushed in the dark. And the ground of all these effects is sheer, crystal translucency – Roerich’s famous high Himalayan terseness. His secret is the use of pure colours. Our eye is no longer used to them, we are glutted with centuries of dirty, indeterminate, mixed-up tints. One might well imagine Roerich worrying over a speck of dust on his paints, never using the same turpentine twice.

When absorbed in his scenery, we feel as if we breathed thin, intoxicating air, and we realise that a power-laden disclosure is being urged upon us. The hard, solemn and dazzling light is requesting of us that we strain our attention to the utmost; it is in the process of conveying something of ultimate importance. In fact these pictures carry a definite meaning: they open up vistas for us in our inwardness.«

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