“Art exists to help us deal with the world’s imperfections.” – Andrei Tarkovsky
For his second feature Tarkovsky turned back the clock to the 15th Century life and times of Russia’s greatest icon painter – Andrei Rublev, to create an extraordinary ode to the power of art that featured some of the most poetic scenes in the history of cinema.
Set in medieval Russia, Tarkovsky’s film consists of eight parts - each focusing on a certain moment in the life of the monk and Russian Icon painter Andrei Rublev. Though not as famous in the West, in Russia Rublev is considered to be their first known artist and one of the country’s greatest painters. That said, Tarkovsky had little to go on in creating his central character, as not much was known about Rublev’s life and only a few of his works survived. Working in the Soviet Union and experiencing censorship, Tarkovsky believed that creating culture was one of the most efficient ways to overcome the struggles of daily life, and expertly used Rublev’s life as a metaphor for the role of the artist in society. And if art can be compared with religion by serving similar goals, in the figure of Rublev - a monk, a painter and a faithful believer – Tarkovsky found his perfect symbol.
With its themes of artistic freedom, religion, political ambiguity and the making of art under a repressive regime – the film proved too experimental, too frightening, too violent, and too politically complicated to be released in the officially atheist and authoritarian Soviet Union until years after it was completed. (The film was interpreted by many as an allegory for the plight of the artist under the Soviet regime). Nevertheless, with its glorious black & white photography - shot by master cinematographer Vadim Yusov -this art-house masterpiece endures as an epic meditation on art, religion and creativity.
- As part of Sculpting Time the 18:00 screening of The Mirror on Wed 20 July will feature an introduction and Q&A with artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah who will be talking about the influence of Mirror on his own work and Tarkovsky’s innovative use of sound. A founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, Akomfrah's work has been shown in museums and exhibitions around the world including most recently his exhibition Vertigo Sea at Arnolfini.