Gioconda's Smile
Dmitri Gutov
Preface to the publication of M. Lifshits article "Gioconda' s smile".

"It's time to say "good-bye" to petty intrigues of reflection" M. Lifshits

I think that this text should be published as it belongs to the classical tradition of the attitude towards an object or object depletion, which is already lost. When a person is interested not only in himself, his pose or his ideas about, but the essence. Mikhail Lifshits shows the potential possibility of the straight attitude towards the world. That is for me the most important, the most valuable and the newest. Today it is absolutely new, unbelievably new, because the experience of contemporary art is an experience of the rejection of a clear and ingenious vision, it is an experience of double meaning, ciphers, shift of the world and placing oneself on its place. Approach any picture, any work of art. What do you see? An artist. His pose. He is demonstrating, that he is independent, that he is above any links, any sympathies - he is above everything. He can't fuse with anything and say: "It's me". Pure speech, expressing a thought is lost. There only exists a result of sweet and sour discussions about the idea that any image isn't adequate to the reality, that it's conditional. An artist plays with conditionalities, demonstrates and stresses them. Art lacks any power to objective. This morbid event is what Goethe called: reactionary epoch. Unproductive.
Mikhail Lifshits was very consistent in overcoming this constant subjectivity. More than twenty years ago he said that the time could come when the followers of the classical tradition would need to epatage somebody, it's high time to remind this tradition to the art, which has turned from the life and has gone deeply inside its own small problems, looped on itself and appeared to be in the absolutely uninteresting sphere.
Demonstration of person's signs, multiplication of consciousness, radical fraud, all these things are so boring because they lack, according to Belinsky's words, pathos, i.e. life content. The artist is not interested in what he depicts, and the result of all his attempts lacks reality. In other words it lacks the independence of existence without any basis. A criminal came to Chernenko and shot. Directly. Locking lug fall. Chernenko also fall. AH these lugs, lugs of contemporary art are quite expensive pleasures. An art phenomenon can't defend itself. Take them from museums, put them in the streets, and, according to Ter-Oganian, nobody will take them.
All modern system of art functioning - financial, museum, art-historical - serve as such lugs. Too expensive for the society. Everything is very fragrant. God knows how it is kept. On nothing. It has strictly ephemeral character. It has no inner confidence. According to M. Lifshits, inner confidence is given to art by the life it depicts. Here is the world Giaconda was smiling to. Look at M. Lifshits' photo in the third volume of his collected works - it's the same smile. It lives in all his books being the witness of the private existence's open order.
He wrote "Gioconda's Smile" in 1976 as an answer to the article sent to him for the review. This article belonged to two doctors who investigated "Gioconda" from the medical point of view. They explained her smile as a reflection of the inner state of her body, shallow bio-chemical processes. It is very close to what's happening to the culture, with its inner petty intrigues without any desire to see the reality. M. Lifshits has proved that regarding "Gioconda" scientists were wrong. If they had written about contemporary art, they would have been right three times.
The desire of the scientists of 70-s to intrude into the humanitarian field had its own logic. They wanted to correct it. Mostly, professional humanitarians were just rascals. They have compromised their science to the degree anything can be ever compromised by what M. Lifshits had called rascals. And the intensity of the rising noise was so high that it was nearly impossible to distinguish a calm and low voice, in that case M. Lifshits' voice. How could one guess that under the cover of the book "Karl Marx. Art and Social Ideal" there was hidden not just a usual stupidity but wonderful and clever things?
Nowadays people are granted by the historical fortune the possibility to distinguish the possibility closed before. M. Lifshits was not scared to be banal while choosing Dobroliubov, Tchernishevsky, Lunacharsky as the topics for his works. He was not interested in the way his position looked like from outside. Yesterday it wasn't original, today it is the top of extravagance. But is it so important? Everybody who wanted to be loyal, was worried of their non-conformism, and was not thinking of the main thing. Some day they had demonstrated everything possible, and later showed their falseness, stupidity, total emptiness. They have disappeared, and Mikhail Lifshits is more and more heard.
The article "Gioconda's Smile" is necessary for the contemporary artist, who has gone to the second floor of the consciousness, locked the door and moved a ladder. Why does he need it? Let's answer with M. Lifshits' words "We do not know when and under what conditions our thought could become useful, but if it is right, it won't be lost".

Moscow Art Magazine, 1993, N1, p. 22-23