In the past times of the new European culture, in order to save valuable parchment, scribes washed the ancient texts off it and recorded new ones. However, the old letters became as apparent as the blood on the graves of righteous men, like a testimony of the intransigence of eternity and the vanity of everyday routine. Thus, the phenomenon of the palimpsest appeared, a phenomenon of the overlapping of one text on another. Involuntarily it reminded us of the fact, not only that culture is a set of layers, but a person's being as well, and it brought us to the conclusion that the overlap of different times, cultures, life zones and entire worlds are caused with the principle itself, the law of life.
The development of the person's consciousness witnesses, that visible and invisible, the sacred and profanic, the eternal and perishable, the mysterious and everyday worlds interact in life. In the national culture it was M.Gogol, who demonstrated this in the clearest way. In his books a melonfield, a town, a forest glade, a river bank or a church fence appear to be a verge, an edge of different worlds. From this point of view in the contemporary Ukrainian art Petro Bevza's creativeness draws our attention. It is not because he uses the effect of the palimpsestic overlap as a technique (stylistically this effect is used in the works of different painters), and it is not even because the artist uses this technique professionally. The most critical moment is that, in Petro Bevza's works, applying different layers of existence becomes the principle of his creativeness, the peculiarity of his vision of the world. More than that, Petro Bevza's creativeness is sure to be beyond understanding without a joint trip behind the horizons of the enlightenment of various worlds.
What impresses in the master's works first of all? Let's say, in the place where, according to tradition, the sky is supposed to be, in Petro Bevza's works often (particularly of late) a coloured stripe or a white ghost, marking non-existence, dream appears. Even if the azure appears in the upper part of the canvas, again it marks the water, filling the entire world, rather than the sky. It becomes evident, if to take into the consideration, that in the artist's pictures the physical space is often absent. The image that seems to be space, appears to be a conventional verge between the everyday reality and the existence of a higher sequence. In some cases it is broken like the veil in the Jerusalem temple, when the dying Christ cries out: "It is finished" (then a tragic image of being becomes apparent), in the others it is taken off like the peels of a mysterious fruit, and then the world of dream, mystery opens. In this respect, the picture "The Reality of a Child's Dream" (1995) can be an example. In a masterly created situation of an imaginary life the child seems to take off the cover of routine, bare the upper world with a tender touch of
dreaming, which has not been darkened with anything.
The palympsestic vision of the world for the artist turns into a break of the deceptive assurance in the evidence of the empirical reality of routine surroundings. Petro Bevza's painting turns into a philosophy of our life bordering upon the verge of a mystery, the enlightenment of eternity, as a real, "hard" reality. Father Olexander Men wrote correctly about the same vision of the world, that it releases our consciousness from the grey poison of everyday routine, which mutilates the real picture of the world, leads to the loss of the feeling of mystery, a breath of eternity, which exists beside us. Our spirit takes desperate attempts to overcome "the illusion of routine, to receive back the lost world perception, in which the dead object will speak again, and everything will sound, tremble, gain a mysterious and significant meaning". Some of Petro Bevza's works have a propensity for this kind of vision of reality, for instance, "Happy" (1991), "Water" from "The Sign" cycle (1993), "The Sky" from "Malyavka" cycle (1993).
The painter reaches the palimpsestic effect by different means. In particular, he uses a technique of rubbing the texture, when after mechanical rubbing a light of a spiritual sub-ground comes apparent behind it. A specific, so-called "holographic" arranging is also used. For example, in the picture "Ascending" (1991) different foreshortenings of a volumetric panorama of a mountain landscape are presented in the same flatness. However, the question here is not of techniques. The peculiarities of Petro Bevza's art vision are more important. The unexpectedness of the creative enlightenment of the master even causes paradoxes. Thus, his works may be divided into pictures belonging either to the figurative or abstract periods. But after a more careful consideration this division seems to be conventional, as there is one significant peculiarity in the painter's works. Almost everywhere the author represents a kind of elliptical face of "vital" events and circumstances. But in some cases the ellipsis appears compositionally, in the contour of a bent figure ("Act", 1990), or in the movement of a personage ("Beside Granny", 1992), and in the others it is outlined with a contour, where the "spiritual" action takes place ("On the Water", 1991; "Happy", 1991; "The owner of the Crystal Mountains", 1990; "Mother and Child", 1993; "Different Time", 1993). In different variants the elliptic "compositional field" is present in almost all of the pictures. It is significant, as the ellipsis is a figure that has two focuses, and the dual focusedness of the vision appears to be essential for the palimpsestic understanding of existence. One focus only has a corporeal "empirical" being, a visible world of the objects. In consequence of this, the other focus should be concerned with the invisible world of the spiritual subtext of the picture. Such a division of the spiritual and corporeal focuses is particularly expressive in the feminine themes of the artist ("The Annunciation"' 1992; "Time. Dedication to Petro Lebedynets", 1993;
"The Reality of a Woman", 1994-95). Thus, the femininity, as well as the childhood, the theme of water, the road, a mountain, a desert appear to be kindred with the sacrament and mysteriousness, which impart the symbolicism to the Petro Bevza's works.
It needs to be mentioned, that the problem of the mysteriousness cannot be separated from the development of the art vanguard, though it has not been paid a proper attention. In particular, the founder of musical avantgarde A.Schoenberg used to write to V.Kandynskiy: "We have to realise, that we are surrounded with mysteriousness. And we have to take our courage in both hands and face this mysteriousness, avoiding cowardly questions about "clues". Our creative spirit is very important to create puzzles similar to the ones that are around us. It is for our mind not to long to solve, but to decipher it. The result that we will receive should not be the solution of the puzzle, but a new method of ciphering and deciphering... If we learn the possibility to keep everything unrealisable by means of the puzzle, we will get closer to God, as we will not long for His understanding. We will not measure Him with our mind, criticise Him, refuse from Him on the reason of our inability to unriddle Him, inability that is created by our clarity". It is the inability of human clarity that Petro Bevza's creativeness tries to overcome.
The mastering of the second focus, the point of the reconstruction of the different world, existing behind the verge, so is the duel focusedness of the collage of reality with the imagination is not only the mental "mechanics" of the palimpsest of being. It is also a grace, a gift of fate, associating the superstructure of an ordinary vision with additional metaphysical sight. Using the metaphoric language we can say that such a situation can be explained with the help of a legend, which Lev Shestov tells.
There are critical moments in a person's life, when God sends a six-winged Seraph, the most fantastic being, whose wings are covered with uncountable number of eyes. He has a mission either to take the life or to give the person "additional eyes". Such "eyes" are given to any talent. But, given to the painter, this gift gains a special expressiveness of the Seraph's vision. Presumably only because of it the canvases like "Flight" (1990) or "The Annual Cycle of the Sky" (1995), through the layers of evidence which lead the viewers to the graceful existence, symbolic microspace, that only opens for "the seraph sight".
A question arises. What are any additional means of vision for? Why is it necessary to go behind the border of our usual world, furnished for our everyday usage? If we took the position of the subject of the similar questions, then from the point of view of the generally accepted rationalistic paradigm, one could answer the following. The world is fathomless and inexhaustible in its changes and potencies. Therefore it is natural that the absolute majority of its phenomena have not been discovered, assimilated or realised. Then, in this case, ununderstandable and, as a sequence of this, mysterious and wonderful events have to happen around us. And one of the greatest wonders is the absolute absence of any wonders in our everyday life. Only one conclusion can be drawn in this case; we have created an artificially comfortable world for ourselves, in which we have fenced ourselves off from all the unusual, excitingly mysterious. That is why it is necessary to feel the palimpsestness of existence, consisting of many layers, to enlighten our narrow-mindedness, transitional situations, to enter the higher dimensions of human existence.
In this context, the inclination to the transitional and bordering situations, which we notice in Petro Bevza's creativeness, becomes evident. The painter also depicts transition from day to night, and vice versa- from night to day ("Twilight", 1990; "Morning, 1989; "The Paradise Gate- I", 1993) as well as from the reality to the imagination ("In the Vine- yard", 1990; "God", 1991; "The Space Where the Time Flows", 1994), and the emotional fairy- tale of a dream ("Summer Night Dream", 1989; "Flight", 1990; "Above the Lake", 1991; "Memory- IV" from "Malyavka" cycle, 1993; "The Reality of a Child's Dream, 1994). In this way the sound of the "internal" person, whose understanding Skovoroda appealed to, takes place. In this way we return to that language of the initial sense, seen in dreams, and which was considered by Marina Tsvetayeva to be in real poetry and a child's words.
The theme of a road is an original leit- motif in the artist's canvas. It is like a connection between the worlds, the transition from one state to the other, from existence to non- existence. That is why, the road reminds us of a stream, a river, which, according to folk myths, links dead and alive, the past and the future ("The Way" cycle, 1994). The road has the sense in itself, if there is a hope in it, if it leads somewhere. In a certain sense The human being itself can be considered as a road, sometimes it is the longest road that leads to understanding of ones own personality. Petro Bevza's roads do not only tie people and events, but the symbols of being, signs, colours as well. Sometimes, travelling along the roads leads to the huge flashes of light and a magic flood, the extension of a certain colour, that becomes overwhelming.
The images that have already appeared in the canvas of a usual scale seem to explode with magnificent, meter wide flashes of spring, night, symbolic microspace. Then the hidden monumentality of Bevza's pictures flows out, and they make an impression of an unlimited extension of scale. The art space of the painter extends in the way, similar to the extension of all our physical Metagalaxy - to endlessness. But Galaxies scatter in the darkness of interstar space, Petro Bevza demonstrates a real cosmogony of the colour, a high mastership of creating, work with large masses of colours. The colours seem to substantialise, appear to essential event of the same existential nature as the objects themselves.
The world only seems to have a mainly objective, figurative facture. If we imagined a fantastic Galaxy subject, who could watch our world with the non- human eyes, he would see "a large sea of being" (Dante), created with an endlessness of possibilities, chances, potencies, elements of light and colour. In the non-subject dimension the animals do not accept it according to the objects, but to the certain peculiarities (so is according to the feeling of warm, cold, dark, light, etc.). Only the person is able to synthesise the peculiarities into objects, the second synthesis above the initial precariousness of elements. When a painter does not depict he objects, but the elements of light, colour, transitional states, etc., depending upon his talent, he can spontaneously approach the fundamental principles of existence, the sources of creativeness, which God addressed with the words: "Let there be Light!" Therefore, the value of any art creation is based on the ability to touch the fundamental principles of creation, form assurances that it has not been completed, that it may not even have started, as Ivan Pannonsliy stated in his heretical treatise, and Jorge Luis Borges guessed. Do you wish to see something that the human eyes have never seen? Listen to a bird's voice. Do you wish to hear something that human ears have never heard? Look at the Moon. Do you wish to touch something that human hands have never touched? Touch the ground. I say the truth, that God has not created the Earth yet".
Maybe it is because Bevza seeks associations of such a perception. Nat in his work the inclination to using iconographical techniques the becomes apparent. There is a certain logic in this. The icon incarnates the principle of the palimpsest of existence in a sense, which is based on the symbolics of communication between the objective and the ideal world of grace.
The icon does not belong to the reflected image (idol), but it belongs to the ideal, to the sign-allegorical mark of the sophilogic fundamental principles of life. As the person himself is the "God's icon", so is the being similar to his initial image, iconography uses the signs of symbols that have the same existential energy as their prototypes. There may be an analogy to the traffic signs which depict children running across the road, the object of meaning is not their figures. The children appear not to be images, but symbols of a non- figurative situation of particular care. It is the sign of non-figurative situations of grace which is a prerogative of icons. In Petro Bevza works we find reminiscences of the movement techniques from the signs of the objective to the symbolics of their prototypes. In this respect the picture "China" from "The Road to Menchul" cycle (1993) is distinctive.
It is this familiarising with the mystery and symbolism of communicating with the "native" depth of existence, that connects Petro Bevza's canvases with the techniques of iconography. So it seems that they are like sleeping beauties, waiting for the eyes which would be able to emit the ray of wisdom between the master and our souls.