Artist Alexey Chernigin
oil on canvas, 100x150cm 2021
Once in an album dedicated to the culture of Mexico, I saw an image that shocked me with its strength and frankness. It was a sculpture of the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl, depicted as a naked woman giving birth while squatting.
Intrigued, I learned that Tlazolteotl is one of the most important Mesoamerican mother goddesses associated with the earth, fertility, sexual pleasure and fertility. Tlasolteotl embodied in the Aztec beliefs the idea of human sins, especially sexual ones, and at the same time, repentance.
It is believed that the image of Tlazolteotl came from an even more ancient goddess who personified everything that exists: heaven and earth, life and death, day and night. For the ancient peoples of Central America, she was the supreme deity.
And another image of the goddess is Tlaelkuani, which can be translated as “sin eater”. Interestingly, the deity could only be addressed once in a lifetime. The Indians confessed to her and asked her to absorb their sins before her death, thereby purifying her soul. She was also invoked at the birth of a child to cleanse him of the misdeeds of his parents.
Thus, Tlazolteotl is not just a demon that seduces people, pushing them onto a sinful path. Rather, it is the goddess of fertility, femininity and purification.
Starting from the image of the Mexican goddess, I tried to keep the initial impression that the sculpture of the ancient master left in me – the absence of any shame and embarrassment, primitive simplicity and truthfulness. However, I was more interested in birth itself, and not in a primitive physiological sense, but in a larger, philosophical, universal sense.
The autumn forest is a symbol of Eternity, for which Time is vanity and limitation, imposed by the transience and cyclical nature of life. The flying leaves a second ago were filled with vital juices that rose from the earth along mighty trunks. But their flight is short. Spinning, the leaves will fall to the ground, cover it with a yellow shroud, but tomorrow they will dry up and disintegrate into dust, completing the circle of life.
Something dies, something is born again. This is the simple and incomprehensible mystery of life. Therefore, compositionally, I turned the image over, the woman came to the fore, and the little man coming into this world became the main character. The space around it vibrates, disintegrates into atoms and reassembles, creating an architectural frame of something new, unknown to us.