top of page

Rauf Sunyaev


It is only in the recognition of the absurdity of the abrahamic religions that my ancestors practiced, and in the superimposition of those traditions visually on to Christian colonial/Victorian New England superstition that I can discover a tender Sublime. Considering Christine’s Battersby writing for her critique of the Hegelian and Kantian definitions of the sublime. Also considering Barnett Newman, Rosalind Krauss, Kazimir Malevich, and Pavel Filonov for their writing on finding religious meaning in abstract painting. With this work I contextualize my conclusion on these sentiments to the Chase Hill Retreat.

The opening arch is haint blue acrylic house paint over board, mesh, and joint compound. Giotto’s angels printed ink on mulberry paper are pasted on the wall. I chose to take this Christian pattern and make it into a sort of wallpaper expanding his repetition as Muslim Tatar artists would do with plants.

A few years ago I worked at Historic New England where the paint color gambit of “Haint Blue” was closely studied. The color was considered to have the ability to ward off evil initially in the hoodoo belief system - before expanding to colonial superstition. This color is shockingly similar to the holy blue hue in Islam. The pigment often comes from indigo.

Following the introductory space I hope the viewer will consider the three birds painted in oil on the stairwell. The bird to the right is a Hoopoe bird — the bird of King Solomon. The birds on the left are the houses inhabitants. I was thinking of the Rubens and Bruegels collaboration “Music Room” here.

The hope is that the ascension of the viewer puts a sort of dynamic swimming effect on to the Atlantic Cod above. This is the Sacred Cod of New England. The fish is also a sacred symbol across Abrehemic religions. The lattice Tulip pattern on the ceiling demonstrates the beauty of sacred weave taken lightly. This is the most common form in Volgen Tatar weave. The panel of true fresco with large dripping Tulips demonstrates their abstraction. The textured circles on the wall are significant for what they omit. The cracking blue-green on the ceiling is a vestigial relic of the months of failed attempts to make the fresco-buono hold rather than crack apart and return to dust. I’m multiple parts of this work I hope to demonstrate the many layers of preparation that the wall had to undertake to support fresco- I hope to preserve a sense of timelessness.

El Greco’s hand of the Count is both a Christian image but also this sort of hand position is an old Jewish mystic symbol. The eye near the left hands is related. The decorated panel on the hallway wall is related to the work of a painter who lives and works in a mosque in Uzbekistan- I bought a decorative plate from him with Islamic weave and he instructed me on his process. The gold acrylic leaves on the opposite wall comes from the Oak Leaved Beech tree outside.


bottom of page