Monday, June 11, 2012


Lena Levin. August  24"×36", Oil on stretched canvas, May 2012
August. 24"×36", Oil on canvas, May 2012

This is the most recent painting that took part in my Open Studio exhibit, a painting that came to me in my sleep, or rather on the verge of insomnia, and required to be painted in spite of all my other plans.

Its title refers to a poem by Boris Pasternak, but it has a long story behind it, rich in passion, and pain, and beauty – yet I am not sure anyone can tell this story in English; certainly not me and not now.

I had hoped to find Joseph Brodsky's English version, but his part in this nearly century-long exchange exists only in Russian. If anyone could do it in English, it was him – or maybe there will be another, younger, bilingual poet, who will do it in due time.

The story began in the twenties, with an exchange of Russian and German poetry, and German epistolary prose between three great poets, Rainer Maria Rilke, Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak (here, at least, there is an English translation, by Susan Sontag), and continued long after two of its participants' earthly lives had ended, with Boris Pasternak's verse and Joseph Brodsky extraordinarily insightful reading.

Since I am a painter, my projection of this story had to be in paint – and here it is; I am not sure whether it is complete, or a work in progress; but one thing to be learned from this story, is that nothing can ever be complete...
Post a Comment