17 February 2014

An Interpretation of Tselkov / Tselkov: an interpretation / Истолкование Целкова

Oleg Tselkov (Russian B. 1934), 'Collection (Green Version)' 1988, oil on canvas.

An Interpretation of Tselkov

The nap of some string and some candle wax.
The rearing up of a rump above a face.

As for the rest, just try to make it out

amid the flame, gloom, and oily smoke.

Only forebodingly can we make out
in the black memory-flame of paints
Tselkov’s period of guises,
“larvae” in Latin, “masks” to us.

Replacing landscape and flowers,
these masks, torn and pocked,
hung in Soviet apartments

like shields of vacuity and vanity.

There, as if some kind of anti-icons,
they eyelessly observed
the passing of repellent days,

the flowing of alcohol and the flouting of laws.

But the brush and the pencil

have a movement from cycle to cycle.

A soul appeared in the form
of a yellow butterfly on Tselkov’s canvasses.

Out of such larvae, which, God forbid
won’t ever return to haunt our sleep,
look, the soul crawls through

the socket of an eyeless eye.

Here it sat awhile on the nail,

there it leaves its trace like lightning.
On the candle, on the string, everywhere.
Even there, where it’s invisible.

(Translation © Henry Pickford)

(The Wondrous Raid, Tenafly, NJ, USA: Hermitage Publishers, 1985; Selected Early Poems, New York, NY, USA: Spuyten Duyvil, 2014)

Tselkov: an interpretation

Rope fiber and candle gout,
A rear end rampant on human shoulder,
For the rest, you try to make it out
Among fire and murk and smolder.

Ominously, though, we still mark off
In the black mind-flicker of hues
The figure phase of Oleg Tselkov,
Of larvae in Latin, “masks” for us.

Replacing paysages and painted flora,
These masks, all in fissures and gaps,
Like emblems of poverty and vainglory,
Were hung up in Soviet flats;

Where they hang and witness, eyeless,
Like anti-icons of sorts,
The days unreeling, joyless,
With boozing and trampling of laws.

But paint-brush and drawing-coal
Show movement from era to era.
In butterfly yellow, the soul
Has emerged in Tselkov’s oeuvre.

From incubuses and larvae
God save us from seeing in dreams.
The soul, behold it wafting
Through the eyeless caves her beams.

Here you find it perched on a nail-head,
There it flares like a meteorite,
On the candle, the rope, you name it,
Even where it is hidden from sight

(Translation © Estate of Walter Arndt)

Истолкование Целкова

Ворс веревки и воск свечи.
Над лицом воздвижение зада.
Остальное – поди различи
среди пламени, мрака и чада.

Лишь зловеще еще отличим
в черной памяти – пламени красок
у Целкова период личин,
«лярв» латинских, по-нашему «масок».

Замещая ландшафт и цветы,
эти маски в прорехах и дырах
как щиты суеты и тщеты
повисали в советских квартирах.

Там безглазо глядели они,
словно некие антииконы,
как летели постылые дни,
пился спирт, попирались законы.

Но у кисти и карандаша
есть движение к циклу от цикла.
В виде бабочки желтой душа
на холстах у Целкова возникла.

Из личинок таких, что – хана,
из таких, что не дай Бог приснится,
посмотри, пролезает она
сквозь безглазого глаза глазницу.

Здесь присела она на гвозде,
здесь трассирует молниевидно.
На свече, на веревке, везде.
Даже там, где ее и не видно.

(Чудесный десант, Tenafly, NJ, USA: Эрмитаж, 1985; Selected Early Poems, New York, NY, USA: Spuyten Duyvil, 2014)

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