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AMARTA Magazine
2017 Summer, White Issue 

Text by art critic David Andriadze
Photography by Zaqaria Chelidze

Levan Songulashvili is a “Black-and-White” thinking contemporary artist who has studied overseas and is a very serious-minded, purposeful and also well-organized unlike lots of other artists of his generation.

The goal-oriented contemporary artist also masters “Self-Design” technologies.

He knows that the whole of today’s “celebrity culture” should be based on forethought and planned self-reproaches and “confessions”.

And these “confessions” have already been reported by the artist who have recently emerged with a gown of Master of Fine Arts. 

Apparently, Songulashvili also realizes that his conceptual backing, the intellectual layer, which has been modeled by this energetic young creator, is not worthless than the artifact of the artwork, or its aesthetic value.

Besides, Songulashvili leaves an impression of a night owl person.

Here is what he says:

“I avoid to paint during the daytime. The morning light prevents me from finding the inner glow. As the traces of a creature passed on the snow-covered lands, the day reveals a dark spots of the humankind. At night when the sky is colored in blue-black, and the stars are blinking white, I become a part of the infinitude space where I find a mystical light; Then the process begins which I call a creativity. I don’t need to seek the whiteness outside, while it is in me; The achromatic color, a color of the absolute brightness, an unifier of entire palette, a symbol of truth, innocence and divinity. And I am the Jellyfish, a light inside the silence and oceanic twilight of the river Styx”.

Operating with white and black colors can also be seen as his alternative chromatic sensitivity.

The main thing is that white and black, as such, uncovers the fundamental social, anthropological, ritual and even ideological antithesis in Levan’s “Para-Painting”: Kindness – Evil; Holiness – Depravity; Fortune – Misfortune; Happiness – Misery; Life – Death; Health -Illness…

By the way, being white and black is an interesting symptom.

To be white means to be equal to alive and dead.

And to be in such “right” state means to be healthy, not causing distress to someone’s feelings.

Such a person never causes anger in us. He will not make you feel envy. Briefly, the painter of white is an individual of neutrality.

The benevolence caused by the whiteness of such achromatic (but not colorless) works in others, dictate to us some kind of forgiving gesture.

Such whiteness is based on corporate morals. The morals that will bring all of us to the shore of the river Styx.

Here I mentioned the shore and Levan’s painting implies its peculiar boundaries. The antithesis of white and black should tell us the mystery of overcoming a lifetime and approaching the “eternity” of death.

Peculiar ritual acts of transition are settled in Levan’s pieces, as if his collective characters are also liminary individuals: trans-flying or trans-floating persons. I also see them as a new kind of characters and creatures emerged in the initiation process.

Levan offers a peculiar narrative of the relationship – meeting, separation, breakup, finding and losing. He is modeling a human (or meta-human) communitas.

In this model, mystical freedom and non-enviousness are to be seen and to dominate over the weakness, homelessness and helplessness.

In this sense, at the same time, these cycles seem to be the self-portraits of the artist, puts us in the Franciscan mood. The artist is also quite thoughtful of the palette:

“For me White, Black and their metamorphosis – Gray creates a conceptual idea of the color, where tone and midtone, with a texture of the painting, becomes a metaphor. If there is no a space for thinking, a naked concept turns into the pornography. White, as a colorless color, is an oblivion and blankness, but some absolute light and a symbol of spiritual origin. Goethe said: “But I was astonished, as I looked at a white wall through the prism, how it stayed white! That only there where it came upon some darkened area, it showed more or less some colour, then at last, around the window bars all the colours shone, whereas in the light grey sky outside there was no colour to be seen. It didn’t take long before I knew that a border was required for colour to be brought forth, and I spoke as through an instinct out loud, that the Newtonian teachings were false..”

Levan Songulashvili draws a self-contained world, a black-and-white world that exists without our interference.

There don’t know about laughing in this world…

…the world by which the elite estrangement expresses human life universalities. It responds to the physical practice and also seeks to be intellectually stimulating. It fits itself to cold, overcomes hunger, fear and leaves in us the bodily knowledge, teaches us a body language, a bleached and depressed body language.

“A conceptual nature of the white color, where it absorbs and neutralizes other colors and turns into emptiness, silence and finally a symbol of death, is often exposed in cinematography. For example, in the recent work of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta’s -The Leftovers (2014-2017), a dual image of white color bears an important symbolic load in the plot. White as a terror and emptiness, part of humanity disappeared from the whiteness, and the mass of the leftovers transformed into the whiteness. Guilty Remnants, the speechless, cigarette-smoker society, dressed in white, and separated from the colorful darkness of the entire world, communicating with the universe by handwriting on paper, and wrapped in the white smoke of the “liturgical tobacco”. The interior of the church, re-painted also in white, expresses emptiness and gentleness. Guilty Remnants’ passion for the white color can be explained by their visual passivity. They are driven like sheep and keep silence as they share the experienced truth in their silence, and remember that forever. Whiteness simultaneously depicts being and non-being, existence and non-existence of these individuals, their essence and their nihility. It is considered that a person who likes white is heartfelt, balanced and obedient. Even though it is kind of a terror, protest and mourning for “Guilty Remnants”. Unlike the West, in Eastern culture this is the color of death and mourning“.

Color and non-color, essence and nihility, being and non-being (even exist as non-existed) are a red line of Levan Songulashvili’s white mysteries.

However, both red and the line itself are yet invisible in his works.

Nobody knows when and how Levan will pass this wonderfully made “whiteness”. Maybe a new aesthetic epidemic of this whiteness and blackness and their transformation into grayness will take the Jellyfish transformed artist from the Styx shore and make him show to the world the striving for the “countless colors”, spread over his Post-romantic soul and mind…

P.S. Moby Dick is not only mine, but one of Levan’s favorite books.

We read with Melville: “But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul.”

“Or is it that as in essence, whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color and at the same time, the concrete of all colors. Is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows, a colorless all-color of atheism from which we shrink?”