chess-is-a-small-formCHESS IS A SMALL-FORM SCULPTURE

An exhibition of curious sculptures created by the Moscow artist Oleg Raikis was held during the opening of the Diplomatic Chess Club in the hall of GlavUpDK’s Culture and Sports Centre. Among his sculptures there were many reflecting the chess theme. But of course the artist’s creative work spreads far beyond this theme touching upon many other aspects of human life. Oleg Raikis became fond of wood-carving when he served in the army (he retired in the rank of major). Before it he was fond of reading, especially philosophical works and was in constant search for the meaning of life, he even wrote essays on the subject. But at some pi moment he felt that sculpture conveyed . better than words his thoughts and senti-j ments and he engrossed in wood-carving. His choice fell on box-wood, a relic tree of high density (it sinks in water) and mammoth bone, a very complex and capricious material but especially good for fine works. He had few teachers, so he studied by books and during his numerous visits to the Museum of Arts of Oriental Nations here he used to sit and watch in exhibition hall of Japan and China studying amazingly beautiful and refined |*| Ж works of unknown masters of the Far East. He became fond of Castaneda's works appearing in Moscow bookshops and that gave him new themes. Oleg Raikis poses before himself a very complicated task: to express in a material sophisticated philosophical “incorporeal” notions. Little by little he has worked out his own system of signs helping him to depict something inexpressible, for instance “Self-Restriction”, “Loss of One’s Own Importance” or even “Emptiness’. One can argue his interpretation of this or that theme but his mastery is amazing, the material he uses, so heavy and superhard by nature would lose weight and material substance in his hands becoming a means of conveying some spiritual categories. It is not surprising that the master sooner or later must have come to the chess theme. Oleg Raikis once wrote a treatise under the title “Artistic Chess is a Sculpture”. In this work he explains his own approach to this sphere of his creativity defining artistic chess as a multi-figure composition of miniature sculptures balanced in height, volume and weight and bearing certain symbols. But unlike commonplace, standard chess figures, he believes, each of these 32 figures should bear an artistic meaning of its own, be a finished object of art and, what is the most important thing, do not repeat others. Looking at the set of chess figures “Confrontation”, demonstrated in this issue, you will understand what the author had in mind. All Oleg’s works have something in common: monumental nature. Every figurine can be magnified several times turning into a wonderful sculpture which can adorn a square of any city, since any of these figurines bears a deep psychological and philosophical content. And chess figures are among them.