Eternity of absurdity
Neque lugere, neque indignari, sed intelligere1
Spinoza

In his monograph on the “primitive mind”, Levy-Bruhl used a term “prelogical”, which is often incorrectly translated as “illogical”, as if to show that primitive thinking is not logical and therefore incapable to comprehend, judge and analyze the way we presently do. The issue with perception lies in the same plane as the aforementioned problem. Works of art can become and in fact are becoming the direct analogues to pictographic writing for future generations. They will be used to study history, geography and sociology. In the case of surrealism, the subject for analysis will be – DREAMS. Painting, for Cheval, became not only a meaning of life, but a life’s necessity. Using his art, he frees himself from atavist fears and prelogical dangers of repeating that which already took place thousands of years ago.

Japanese language employs two types of writing: kana, where similarly to the Cyrillic alphabet, symbols correspond to sounds, even though each symbol correlates not to a single sound but to a syllable; and kanji, where hieroglyphic symbols represent objects or notions. Prelogical perception is similar to primitive. For a “primitive” person that belongs to a totemic society every animal, plant and object has an influence on other members of its totem, its class or subclass. Each member has certain responsibilities towards the others and displays mystical association with members of other totems.

Cheval himself believes that the connection between an artist and his creation is like that of a mother and child. In their various forms and intensities, they assume the presence of “participation” between beings and objects. For the painter – everything within the periphery of his canvas is conditional. It exists, sup specie aeternitatis2, outside of an epoch, outside of time and in temporalibus3. Therefore, it cannot be aesthetically or culturally identified. Characters in Cheval’s paintings should be recognized by their costumes and instruments – if a figure uses a fish to play the kettle, he is a musician, if he is dressed in a Pierrot costume, he is an actor. Cheval’s characters are all of us, lost and wondering.

Cheval’s absurdity is equivalent to the eternity itself, or to the universe, which is also eternal. The only thing that makes sense, the one thing of true importance – is mastery. In this light, mastery has the precedence, the major significance or else… the game is not worth it. But what lies at the end of the universe? Maybe Stanislaw Jerzy Lec was correct in saying that “the question is not where does the universe end, but what does it end with; with a fresh green hedge or with a sharp wire fence?”

After meeting Cheval at the opening of his solo exhibit, I approached a well-known New York art critic, Lana Vais and pointed out the refinement of detail in one of Michael’s paintings. Smiling, Lana replied that during a recent interview, the artist told her: “A painter is first and foremost, a master. A master who strives for perfection and for whom carelessness is suicide.” I believe, I replied to her that I met many painters that knowingly commit this type of suicide.
Incidents… another thought.


1 "Not to cry, not to become indignant, but to understand” (Latin) Spinoza
2 In view of eternity (Latin)
3 In time (Latin)

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