member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Not-Very-Long Love Story of Jarilo and Morana, with a Few Fish-Vehicles

Some new fish-vehicles and another homage to Bosch:

vladimir golub
"The Island of Desires"

vladimir golub
"The Fly"

vladimir golub

Ivan Kupala Day and Night
July 7 was Ivan Kupala day, or the feast day of St. John the Baptist. It is also the summer solstice. Ivan is the Slavic version of John, and Kupala comes from the Slavic word for bathing, however Kupala is also the name of a pre-Christian Slavic god, which would make this another syncretization. The night before the holiday is mischief time, and the day itself is full of water pranks and water fights, as well as more "adult" water rituals, arranged around the idea of finding a lover: "Girls would float wreaths of flowers often lit with candles on rivers and would attempt to gain foresight into their relationship fortunes from the flow patterns of the flowers on the river. Men may attempt to capture the wreaths, in the hope of capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath." (Wikipedia)

vladimir golub
"Ivan Kupala Night"

"This is the original pagan midsummer night. In pre-Christian Ukraine, the festival was really a fertility rite that was supposed to assure a good harvest. (Kupalo was believed to be the god of Love and of Harvest. He was personified as the earth's fertility -- RJO). From the descriptions in ancient chronicles it was rather wild, featuring all kinds of sexual excesses... in other words, a lot of fun.

With the coming of Christianity, the Church tried to suppress the festival, but it was unsuccessful. So they did what they normally did: they combined the festival of the pagan god Kupalo with the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (July 6th, Julian Calendar) and called it "Ivana Kupala." The customs were cleaned up a bit, but it's still a feast for young unmarried people, with plenty of opportunities for "making whoopie."

The most adventurous go into the forest in search of the tsvit paporoti - the magic flower, which blooms only on that night. If found, the finder gets untold riches and happiness. But beware! On that magic night the forest is of full of demons and other scary beings (nechysta syla), which are out to get the unwary. In particular, there are Rusalky, the water nymphs, who are the souls of those drowned. They try to entice you into the water, so that you would join them in death. But around the bonfire all is merriment and joy. Songs are sung (many of them survive to the present day), music is played, and everybody dances and makes merry." Source

vladimir golub

Oddly, a little more looking around linked Ivan Kupala day to a different saint, St. George, specifically "Green George," whose representation we've seen before. St. George's festival linked Ivan Kupala to the larger story of the changing of the seasons and the stages of harvest by opening up the love story of Jarilo and Morana. The Slavic god Jarilo seems to be a version of Persephone: he was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, which in Slavic beliefs was a world of eternal spring where the birds migrated in winter. In the spring, he would return to his father, which was celebrated with spring festivals, later named the feast day of St. George. He was then noticed by Morana, a goddess of death and nature, and they would fall in love and court each other in a very ritualistic and traditional pattern, leading up to a divine wedding, which was on--you guessed it--Ivan Kupala day, the summer solstice. This marriage brought peace to the world and thus bountiful harvest, but ended after the harvest in bitterness, with Jarilo's return to the underworld, this time sent by Morana, and her dissolution into a terrible hag. She dies at the end of the year, and in the spring, the whole thing starts over again.

vladimir golub

This story also sees its echoes in Golub's many centaur paintings, as Jarilo's long travel between worlds is compared in two very particular but conflicting ways. It is said in the folk songs that he walks so long that when he arrives his feet are very sore, but it is also emphasized that he rides in on a horse. This seems impossible, but it is noted that a young husband is often symbolized by a horse, and also that in many Slavic folk songs, the cuckolded wife--here Morana-- vents her rage by killing a horse--here Jarilo--or having her brothers do so for her. Horses were saccred animals in West Slavic paganism, and the way they walked through a pattern of spears was used as a tool for divination. So, it seems important to keep Jarilo's association with his horse, and also to point out how very far he has traveled on his poor feet, and this has led students of Slavic mythology (such as Katičić and Belaj) to suggest that he might be a centaur.

the shout
"The Shout" (Jarilo is associated with the moon)

"Jarilo became identified with St. George after the arrival of Christianity, possibly because of mild similarities in their names, but more likely because St. George is usually shown as a knight on a horse slaying a dragon, whilst the Slavs believed Jarilo to have an equine appearance, and that for a time he lived in the green underworld with his stepfather Veles, imagined to be a serpent-like or dragon-like deity. Another possibility is the fact that some legends of St. George depict him being killed and resurrected several times over. However, because of the importance of Jarilo to Slavic farmers and peasants as a deity of vegetation and harvest, Christianity never extinguished the worship of his cult. The spring festivals that in pagan times celebrated his return from the world of dead survived practically unchanged from pagan times in the folklore of various Slavic countries." (Wikipedia, Jarilo)

More Musicians that Play the Soul of the City
Here, Golub paints his favorite model as the muse that pulls the rhythms and melodies of the city out to be heard:

vladimir golub
"City Romance I"

vladimir golub
"City Romance II"

vladimir golub
"City Romance III"

Vladimir Golub was born in 1953, in Slutsk, Belorussia. At 12, he left home to enter a fine arts academy. He often uses the history, folklore, mythology and laudatory ritual songs of his area as sources for his images.

vladimir golub
The Conqueror

vladimir golub
The Siren

This blog post, it will come as no surprise, was inspired by a usual source, Art Odyssey, who has a wonderful playlist with more of Golub's works.


  1. The fish-vehicles transported me to a breathtaking dimension of beauty and myth... Golub's work is awesome, and you've made it so much irresistible in this post. Thank you, dear Zoe!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. But what a great research Zoe! I think is not necessary to "understand" the painting to like it , we can like the colors, the forms ... but it helps to understand the idea of the artist.

    The image becomes richer to our eyes, and we don't need to work the imagination so much :)

    Now seriously, this is a very good post Zoe, I liked (a lot). Thanks my friend

  4. I learned so much about Slavic rituals, I had no clue:) Golub's work is amazing, and so are you Zoe.

  5. The contribution of Steve Anderson, I have deleted. I was not sure whether he stands on my side.

  6. What a great post, Zoe, both the very imaginative art and your research. The research added a lot of sense to the video of a favorite popsong of mine (I listen to it a lot). Look on Youtube for Oi Govorila chista voda and you probably find it. (For some reason I can't paste the link into this.) Nothing very highbrow, I'm afraid, but if fitted your Kupala description so well for me.