oleksiy koval

RHYTHM IN SOCCER, PAINTING AND MUSIC

In ESSAYS on August 2, 2010 at 8:09 am

“Just love the games and the dancing.
Look only for the rhythm in everything.”
Magallon

Often I remember autumn 1997, the UEFA Champions League and especially two matches: Dynamo Kyiv against Barcelona and Barcelona against Dynamo Kyiv two weeks later. Both matches were won by Dynamo Kyiv: 3:0 in Kyiv and 0:4 in Barcelona. I’m writing about these two matches not only because Kyiv achieved 7 goals and Barcelona couldn’t make even one during 180 minutes, but because I was impressed by the way they played.

In January 1997 coach Lobanovskiy returned from Kuwait back to Dynamo Kyiv. The Club was then in a deep crisis. But the Ukrainian soccer coach succeeded to bring Kyiv back to the top of European soccer the same year. The reason for this success was the way they played. Valeriy Lovanovskiy described it himself as the universal soccer – in contrast to European “soccer philosophies”, where list of  quite complex strategies and tactics are crucial, Lobanovskiy’s organization is really a philosophy, it is derived from a kind of Eastern European tranquility. For Valeriy Lovanovskiy soccer is a physical process, where two critical masses participate. The task of these masses is to adopt and  control the space. Control means as well not necessarily occupying space, but imposing the rhythm of the game on the opponent. The essence of the soccer by Lobanovskiy, is permanent pressure, to which all players have to contribute. Valeriy Lobanovskiy said: “We have no stars in the team, we are building a star team.”

As a painter I am interested in soccer, because painting and soccer have a lot of things that are sharing similar processes. In a way I see painting as an opponent. To win, the painter has to conquer and control surface, light, space and time. Just as in soccer, I’m looking for the rhythm in painting.

In the book “Conversations with Cezanne”, in the chapter “Confessions” you will find a survey, a kind of questionnaire, in which Paul Cezanne had taken part in. Amongst other things, there appears the question for the ideal of earthly happiness. The painter answered: “Having a beautiful formula”.

Before Cezanne light and space were the principal forms in painting. But Paul Cezanne was convinced that light and space are only old representational formulas, which have nothing to do with painting. In a letter to Emile Bernard from 23 December 1904 Cezanne writes: “Light, therefore, does not exist for the painter. As long as you go inevitably from the Black to White, … as much we get bogged down, we never achieve mastery, self-possession.” In an interview with Joachim Gasquet Cezanne still manifests itself to the space “I would like to paint space and time and make them become forms of the sensibility of colours, since I sometimes imagine that colours are like great noumenal entities, living ideas, creatures of pure reason. Whith whom we might correspond. Nature is not on the surface; it is in depth. Colours are the expression of this surface and this depth. They reveal the origins of the world. They are its life and life of ideas.”

As an outstanding example for how Paul Cezanne succeeded to control time, space and light by colour and rhythm, I chose the painting from 1902-06 Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from Les Lauves, which can be seen at the Kunsthaus Zurich. Cezanne violated the space and does not worry about the foreground and background systems, he doesn’t represent any construction of light. The painting is flat. Cezanne focuses on the rhythmic colour modulation. The colour reproduces the depth and the light of the work. Cezanne puts the colour on the canvas very quickly with short brush strokes and so he adopts and controls space. The mountain, the sky and the landscape occur instantaneously.

In the summer of 1957, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger travels to southern France and visit the birthplace of the painter “If someone could think as immediately as Cezanne painted!”

Since 2000 I deal with the works of the American musician, alto saxophonist, bandleader and composer Steve Coleman. I am fascinated in Colman’s music especially his rhythmic forms and the way how he varies these. How Lobanovskiy’s Dynamo from defense to attack or Cezanne’s painting skip from white to black, so do Steve Coleman’s bands rhythmicaly from silence to sound. In an interview, Steve Coleman said, he wanted to express the recognition of the “natural rhythms of the universe”.

In the summer of 2008, I’ve heard Steve Coleman live in Munich with two bands. The alto saxophonist and his Five Elements from New York met the rapper from the hip-hop collective Opus Akoben from Washington. Steve Coleman said about this project: “I don’t view music in terms of styles, words, and categories. Most of what people call hip-hop I don’t like at all. So, it wasn’t hip-hop that I was going after. The perspective I’m coming from is that in the black community – and this is really general – there are two streams of music: the more sophisticated forms and the more unsophisticated forms. That is not to say sophisticated is necessarily better than unsophisticated, but you usually gravitate towards one or the other. … Hip-hop is the blues of today as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mean it’s like the blues, but it’s coming from that impulse when it’s not so commercialized. … My challenge was to find musicians coming from that area who weren’t sophisticated or trained, and still had the impulse. I wanted people who were mainly doing something from a feeling aspect, but were still interested in creativity and not locked into that “I want to be the next Jay-Z” idea. …”

Steve Coleman has succeeded via complex rhythm to make one band out of two. The musicians were playing their own rhythms in different cycles. The cycles overlapped and parted again. These fluctuations were still supported by intense groove. That changed in spectacular speed from soft and slow to loud and fast. The musicians responded reflexively to the changing musical conditions without losing the balance of the band. Coleman’s rhythmic structures allows a creative improvisation, that suspends our sense of space and time.

Thanks for help realizing this text to Caliostro (www.dynamo.kiev.ua), Manfred Mayer (www.jazzseite.at), Prof. Bernhard Lypp, Stefan Schessl and Marion Sally Amy Whyte

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