Levan Songulashvili | AD INFINITUM
As a child, while attending the Easter liturgy, I watched the queues of pilgrims who gathered in the courtyard of a cathedral.
The first funeral procession I attended was of my classmate. There the mothers in black garments and with bowed heads walked the shrouded deceased towards a carefully dug grave. I witnessed my first revolution at the age of twelve when the central avenue of the capital hosted a series of public speeches. I watched the masses of people, rows of the heads that transformed into a horizon line... I observed a society influenced by ideology, collective unconscious, and herd instinct at the protest rallies, in the temples, night clubs or stadiums and tried to isolate the individuals from one another.
In New York, while the wolves of Wall Street were making their way from the jungles of the corporate skyscrapers to the stock market, I went to Carnegie Hall, where Steve Reich's minimalist piece for six pianos was being performed. Music leads me to visual forms. I perceived the Reich’s rhythms as black, chaotic spots and white silhouettes produced by the Japanese ink on a rice paper. At the first glance, the figures resembled the penguins who wandered in the ice desert. Later they turned into an image of numerous migrating women - Idem et Idem (The Same and the Same, 2015). In 2022, Iran witnessed the start of protests against the hijab laws: women united, burned the headscarves and made flags from their own hair. I was amazed at these developments which were very similar to the series of paintings I started to work on seven years earlier.
Then there was The Red Horizons (2019) and ceremonially moving orange cardinals, Spain, and Prado: Diego, Francisco, Domenico, and Pablo. The horizon attracts you like a matador, and you can stubbornly walk towards it even though you can never catch up with it.
2020 turned out to be a tipping point in terms of both: personal and creative life. We have been hit by a wave of the global pandemic as well. Isolation transformed part of the population into an inert, demoralized group left in a helpless state. After having said farewell to my mother I created an expressionistic canvas Elysium. This was a kinetic circulation of human metastases seen from a bird's eye view. I spent the post-pandemic period in Batumi, on the coast of the Black Sea. Elysium later brought me to the next stage with Noli Me Tangere (Don't Touch Me)... If until that moment the viewers observed the mass human scenes from a distant perspective, in the case of Noli Me Tangere the frontal, major part of the composition was occupied by the life-size figures. Approaching of their dynamic, compressed bodies made the audience part of the story. The process of working on this piece coincided with the Russia-Ukraine war.
After having executed expressive strokes, have put on the canvas thick, relief layers of paint and intense, high-pitched sounds, I once again turned to monochrome tones. Seraphim and the Black Star became kind of a meditation for the future monumental painting...
After return from Rome, I started to obsessively think about the images of the mothers and their archetypes related to both: my personal life and different cultures and eras, religions, literature, and psychology. Pieta – the abstracted characters placed in a surrealist environment, was made with the use of two different materials. The landscape and one figure were produced by the oil paint, and another ethereal body with the use of the water paint. Pieta was followed by All Is Full of Love and the culmination of my creative journey to the Black Sea Cain's Dog.
I distance myself from the environment in a quest of a personal space. From the window of the airplane with eyes wide open, I watch how people, buildings, and forests are getting smaller... This is the moment when a fragmented world becomes whole again.
Levan Songulashvili, 2022