The BackShop Journal

A Web Magazine of Arts, Culture and Orthodox Christian Spirituality


The Backshop Journal got its name from a quote by Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century French essayist, who reinvented the genre and coined its name (essai (Fr.) - test, trial, attempt, experiment). In one of his early essays, "On Solitude," he writes:

Il faut avoir femmes, enfants, biens, et surtout de la santé, qui peut ; mais non pas s’y attacher en manière que notre heur en dépende : il se faut réserver une arrière-boutique, toute nôtre, toute franche, en laquelle nous établissions notre vraie liberté et principale retraite et solitude. 

(Wives, children, and goods must be had, and especially health, by him that can get it; but we are not so to set our hearts upon them that our happiness must have its dependence upon them; we must reserve a backshop, wholly our own and entirely free, wherein to settle our true liberty, our principal solitude and retreat.)

Montaigne established his "backshop," the room in which he meditated and created, in one of the towers of his castle near Bordeaux, but his recommendation inspired generations of writers and hermits. By "backshop" he meant a safe haven from the hustle, stress, injustice and hypocrisy of this world, a kind of voluntary internal exile. Backshop also represents a place in which one can collect his thoughts and embark on the inspiring journey of creation. Finally, it means a discovery of one's self that can lead to the understanding of the world, the laws by which it is governed and, ultimately, to the revelation of the Creator within oneself.

This is exactly what this publication is about: an expression of the urge to create generated in solitude, disseminations of the experiences that emerged from the long hours of contemplation and introspection. It was made to celebrate human spirit, art and the genre of essay. 

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Russian Avant-Garde, the "Black Square" and Primordial Forms
One of the most impressive and influential phenomena in the intellectual, spiritual and artistic upheaval in Russia around the time of the Revolution was the Russian avant-garde in visual arts. Two of its most prominent representatives were Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) and Wassily Kandinsky (1866-19...
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