Andrey Tarkovsky - Sculpting in Time
The Great Russian Filmmaker discusses his Art
“Art is born and takes hold whenever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal : that longing which draws people to art.…..in artistic creation the personality does not assert itself, it serves another, higher and communal idea. The artist is always a servant, and is perpetually trying to pay for the gift that has been given to him as if by a miracle ….
When I speak of the aspiration towards the beautiful, of the ideal as the ultimate aim of art, which grows from a yearning for that ideal, I am not for a moment suggesting that art should shun the ‘dirt’ of the world. On the contrary! The artistic image is always a metonym, where one thing is substituted for another, the smaller for the greater. To tell of what is living, the artist uses something dead; to speak of the infinite, he shows the finite. Substitution….the infinite cannot be made into matter, but it is possible to create an illusion of the infinite : the image.
Hideousness and beauty are contained within each other. This prodigious paradox, in all its absurdity, leavens life itself, and in art makes that wholeness in which harmony and tension are unified. This image makes palpable a unity in which manifold different elements are contiguous and reach over into each other. One may talk of the idea of the image, describe its essence in words. But such a description will never be adequate. An image can be created and make itself felt. It may be accepted or rejected. But none of this can be understood in any cerebral sense. The idea of infinity cannot be expressed in words or even described, it can be apprehended through art, which makes infinity tangible. The absolute is only attainable through faith and in the creative act.
The only condition of fighting for the right to create is faith in your own vocation, readiness to serve, and refusal to compromise. Artistic creation demands of the artist that he ‘perish utterly’, in the full, tragic sense of those words….
Moreover, the great function of art is communication, since mutual understanding is a force to unite people, and the spirit of communion is one of the most important aspects of artistic creativity. Works of art, unlike those of science, have no practical goals in any material sense. Art is a meta-language, with the help of which people try to communicate with one another; to impart information about themselves and assimilate the experience of others. Again, this has to do not with practical advantage but with realizing the idea of love, the meaning of which is in sacrifice; the very antithesis of pragmatism. I simply cannot believe that an artist can ever work only for the sake of ‘self-expression.’ Self-expression is meaningless unless it meets with a response.
…In Art, as in religion, intuition is tantamount to conviction, to faith. It is a state of mind, not a way of thinking. Science is empirical, whereas the conception of images is governed by the dynamic of revelation. It’s a question of sudden flashes of illumination….to what does not fit in to conscious thought."