A tall lean person with long expressive arms is practically cocooned within the folds of a monk’s long robe, its hood drawn low over the face. The right-leg contrapposto and a slight slant of the body in the opposite direction form a fluent bow evoking a turn and perhaps departure. This incipient motion of the departing figure is combined with its total inner unsociability, emphasized by the tightly clasped hands and bowed head. The imperviousness of the figure is mitigated neither by the statue’s rough surface creating an impression of “light breathing”, nor by the diagonal lineaments of the wide folds, too heavy to be responsive to any thing from outside such as a breath of wind. Rather, all these features of the forms betray an inner agility, an evolution of the soul with a touch of mysticism. The monk in search of solitude has an eager innermost desire to achieve Truth, not physically or through reason but exclusively through the mind’s eye, in prayer. The composition represents the first stage in the sublime endeavour of a monk who has taken the vow of silence – his departure with suffering from the world, the deliverance from human bondage, leading onto an unchartered terrain, different for every single individual, in the painful search for God. The emotional stress of what is going on resides in the heavy shadows of the folds and the hood. The silent monk’s hidden face is akin to an undeveloped existential backbone rich with potential discoveries.


Brief annotations to the image

MOLCHALNIK (someone who has taken a vow of silence) is a person who has taken a vow of silence in agreement with his religious beliefs, a hesychast, a monk. First the appellation referred to hermits, later, to monk to have chosen to live in complete silence and devoted themselves to inner spiritual evolution and relentless “intelligent” prayer based on the centuries-long experience of mystics.