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Rustam Khalfin

On October 14, the artist Rustam Halfin would have turned 61 (1949-2008).
This is a person of such magnitude that he will pull the entire tree of world art along with him, like a branch of Cezanne's "Big Pine", the entire Mount Saint-Victoire. For him, art is not a profession, but an existence. It was as if he had been born with a painful gift of vague knowledge-memories of his ancestral homeland, of his otherworldliness, of not being part of this topos. He has a protective "Artist's Skin" [1] (a gift from the Argonauts). A multi-layered carapace that covers "Body Landscapes" [2], where layers of cultures are recorded, as in geological layers of the earth's age. He removes it when he enters the native waters of plastic innovations of modernism or avant-garde negations. Rustam Khalfin followed his idols, masters of the past, through their path, creating a series of magnificent paintings at each stage. He seemed to be reflexing with the brush in his hands. Color and form in his paintings were so transformed that they remained closed to the viewer without serious visual erudition. "Standing in front of them is like singing serenades in a fur coat under closed double-framed windows" (Mandelstam).

His refined and intellectual performances had an intensely transformative effect on the artistic atmosphere. And now you can see traces of his "Eurasian Utopia" [3] on the works of various artists, especially the "Felt Project". And felt came to him not from tekemets and yurts, but through installations by Beuys, and Muslim miniatures through Matisse [4], and nomads through Deleuze [5]. And even a simple joke, a famous artifact of his that emerged from the Zen void, continues the conversation between Yves Klein and Armand. ("Emptiness" by Yves Klein" Fullness "by Armand – "Pulota" by Halfin). "Pulota" appeared by accident. Rustam was helping his wife knead plastic in the kitchen. Lida made jewelry out of it.  The mark of a clenched hand that held soft material. The sculptor's first plastic gesture. This is the form before the form appears. Zen clap of one hand. The idea of a "Eurasian Utopia" was discussed with Lida Blinova. Artist, architect, designer, jeweler, poet, wife, muse, colleague-a total creative person-Lida left 15 years earlier than Rustam.  The artist had to implement the project himself.  Whether he understood the laws of shaping in the utopias of modernism or played the irony of postmodernism, the "principle of making" [6] and high aesthetic quality did not change him. Whether it's a series of paintings: "Fragments", "In honor of Matisse", or "Las Meninas". Picasso painted 54 replicas of Velasquez's painting. V. V. Sterligov, a student of Malevich, who taught his students (including Halfin) the plastic laws of cubism, preferred Velasquez's brief truth to Picasso's verbosity. Polemicizing with all his predecessors, Rustam creates his own series "Meninas" – his metaphysics of gazes. And for him, "the picture is the knowledge of the universe in color" (V. V. Sterligov).

The transition from paintings to performances and installations turned out to be organic for him.   
With his three-dimensional vision of an architect, it didn't cost him anything to build a giant sculpture of a clay man. But the forced destruction of his work cost him his health. The truth saved you from death. If not for the stroke, Halfin would have been in New York on September 11, 2001, right in the towers of the International Trade Center.  Mysterious ways of conducting.

 "Clay project" occupied both floors of his gallery "LOOK". On the first floor is a huge figure of a man. It is so huge that one knee and arm seem to pierce the ceiling and protrude on the clay floor of the second level. The clay on the floor was dry and cracked, like real takyrs. In addition to the many-meaning image from the biblical Adam to Purusha, clay architecture to the "Clay Book" – this is also an exhibition space. Interesting events of the art party took place here. Halfin had realizational power, and he had plenty of helpers. They were mostly artists of the younger generation; they had a lot to learn from Rustam.

If you now try to list only the titles of his works, it will probably take dozens of pages. Architect, painter, curator, author of installations and performances - Rustam continued to work until his last days. And this is after a stroke, with poor coordination of movement. Renoir continued to paint in his old age, when it was necessary to tie brushes to his hands. To the question: "Why is he doing this? The old master replied: "For fun. Besides, it's my duty. And why live if there is neither pleasure nor duty?"
Maybe it was the same for Rustam Halfin. He didn't talk about it. And he said that one in the field is a warrior. Creativity is his being, his existence. Only his sensitive eye could see the grandeur of the Parthenon in Tatlin's counter-relief. In the end, a magnificent liberation from all layers of the Mediterranean culture and national culture was completed. Having removed the skin of an artist, he returns to the landscapes of his own body – to a series of paintings and graphic works – "Self-portraits without a mirror".  These are the last works I saw six months before his death. And then at our last meeting – the last quote about our favorite Cezanne – "The strongest acorn of the French forests". 
With all the dramatic collisions, with all the tragedy, this is a complete and holistic life, inscribed in the mainstream of the twentieth century.

1 "The artist's skin". Title of Ram skin installation. The idea of the vulnerability of the artist. Since he is the heir to the Mediterranean culture, the Argonauts gave him their golden fleece.
2 "Body Landscapes", video installation. The first part of a three-part project about sexuality in nomadic culture. In the text, these names are used metaphorically, describing the essence of his work.
3 "Eurasian Utopia" consists of three sections: "Felt project", "Clay project", "Lazy project"
4 Joseph Beuys, Henri Matisse, Yves Kleine, Armand – famous artists of the twentieth century.
5 Gilles Deleuze – philosopher, one of the masters of the minds of postmodernism. His" Nomadology " provoked Rustam to turn to the origins of nomadic culture.
6 "The principle of doneness" from the dictionary of the artist P. N. Filonov.
Art critic Yezhenova Nazipa 14.10.2010 Birthday of Rustam Halfin.