Anatoly T. Fomenko (born in 1945) is certainly an extraordinary individual.
Being a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the International Higher Education Academy of Sciences, as well as a doctor of physics and mathematics, a professor; he is also the author of the theory of invariants and topological classification of integrable Hamiltonian dynamic systems.
That sounds quite intimidating for an average man, especially when you finished your adventure with mathematics at a level of a secondary school.
But that‘s not all – Mr. Fomenko is the author of 180 scientific publications, 26 monographs and textbooks on mathematics, a specialist in geometry and topology.
And – as it wasn’t enough – the Russian scientist appears to be a quite skilled draughtsman expressing mathematical concepts through his magical, fantasy artworks.
The American Mathematical Society had published a book – Mathematical Impressions (1990, Rhode Island), which, as for now, remains only printed collection of Fomenko’s art. The book is unique as it has Fomenko himself as an author. He (with a help of Richard Lipkin – editor) wrote commentaries to each of the 84 works presented and edited the introductory section which contains his general thoughts on his art. The commentaries are as unusual as the drawings themselves. The viewers have the opportunity to, at least, come closer to the message the artist intended to convey. To understand it fully is impossible, as the scientist admits, for non – mathematician. He has no ambition of being recognised as an artist and even doesn’t perceive his work as purely artistic products: To me , my drawings are like photographs of some strange and interesting mathematical world. His only artistic influence may be M.C.Escher (click to find out more about him), with whom he corresponded while studying mathematics.
He explains his images should be read on two levels – mathematical (as almost all graphic works bear a mathematical content, revealing concrete mathematical constructions, images, concepts and theorems…) and philosophical, purely human – where the drawings are like a photograph or a diary-page from a subconscious journey in the immensely rich parallel world, absolutely unlike the ordinary world. Then Fomenko describes his journey which seems to be a state of a trance or a meditation, when the power of senses is enhanced and his mental eyes collect visual information he sees until it reaches some critical value. Then – as a result of an explosion and an artistic creation is born – a drawing starts to emerge.
And, as if the reader and viewer hasn’t been mesmerized enough – Fomenko starts to make clear his technique, which probably sounds like nothing that most of us have ever heard and learnt about drawing. So, he never produces any rough sketches, copies or outlines. The drawing appears all at once as a clean copy. Each mark is final, and my hand doesn’t return to it again. He compares his technique to the process of developing a photo - like using a rag to wipe a thick layer of dust from a picture that already exists.
What then? He separates himself from the parallel world and approaches his picture with astonishment, an onlooker like all others, scarcely recognizing the image before me. Other viewers may approach and ask: What’s the meaning of that detail? But I find it difficult to answer. I feel much like the outside viewers, examining the work in wonder.
Well, I feel unable to comment.
Maybe just one thought – that Anatoly T. Fomenko appears to me to be an artist much more intensely than many reputable professionals I know, despite the fact he doesn’t see himself as one. Victor Hugo didn’t recognize himself as a draughtsman but his drawings belong to the finest ones of the era. There is especially one characteristic which betrays a genuine and usually a good artist – loosing himself for his work to the extent where the product starts to breathe with his own life, so the creator feels just like any other viewer, unable to explain.
A quote from Picasso may help to light up the issue: Painting is stronger than I am. It can make me do whatever it wants.
To sum up, there is a considerable artistic value in A. Tomenko’s works and I hope his name won’t mark the books just because of his exceptional mathematical skills.
Here are just some of the examples of his work and, thankfully, anybody interested can find many more images on the web - anatoly-fomenko art.