Levan Songulashvili

Curator — Mark Gisbourne
Photographer — Giorgi Dadiani

ERTI Gallery, Tbilisi, Georgia | 2018.

The STYX is an installation of mental, emotional, and psychological passage. It refers to a sense of exigent myth and allegory, alluding to the famous mythological river as a site of psychical transformation. It is the point of transit and entry to the imagined underworld, and stands for the experience of life as that of journey and passage, a voyaged dream into the ravelled beyond, leading to an awakening that acknowledges the expanded awareness of new realities. From living consciousness to masked unconscious, from life to death, and the imagined world and afterlife, the River Styx is an aqueous symbol of radical change from the mutable aspects of the world to immutable and inevitable certainty of our eventual passage. For these reasons the project conceived as an immersive experience as expressed through video installations and a unique series of sepia and black and white related paintings by Songulashvili.

The artist’s integration of a video installation and his paintings presents an interwoven vision, mediated by the extended metaphor of the self-regenerative “hydrozoan” medusa jellyfish. A creature not intended by the artist as a description as such, but as a symbolic metaphor, and an embodied form of signification that is representative of life and the nature of mutability and change.

Songulashvili sees the Styx as emblematic of the interstices or in-between that is present in everyday life. Like the drowning souls in this river of oblivion that have not achieved passage, the jellyfish are dependent on the vagary and drift of ocean currents. Yet it is also clear that the greater accumulative and material accomplishments of the artist are best seen through the inner vision of his paintings, which presents the viewer with feelings of veiled and ephemeral presences that capture fleeting (mutable) experience and temporarily transfixes them. For example, the large Styx (Portrait), whale also indicative of the translucent and the semi-veiled, shows in the spectral presence of a child’s face that seems to emerge out diffuse mist or hypnopompic consciousness.

Levan Songulashvili whether he is focussed on video or painting has developed a marked accomplishment that places him in a long tradition of artist’s that reflect on states of meditative consciousness. The STYX is for the viewer a personal journey through emotion and consciousness, a sensory immersion into mortality and sensibility — the passage that is a human life.

— Mark Gisbourne, 2018.