by Prof. D.Phil. Gocha Gvasalia
Before I begin to speak about a young painter and sculptor, Giorgi Danibegashvili, I will say a few words about the goal of art criticism and art analytics. Fingers of one hand will be enough to count the critics who possess the philosophical vision necessary to understand a work of art. Only a few art critics are capable of sensing an innovatory art-object and not only merely describing it using the critical-analytical conceptual apparatus of art. Such description cannot contribute to the thing, what is called the hermeneutics and comprehension of the intention of its creator. When critiquing an artwork, it is exactly the prompting of an artist that is essential to illustrate and to explain to the public, who is perplexed by currente calamo, a weak text and irrelevant explication of examined works of many critics. An art critic should not expound that which is reasonable to him or her and by doing so, detract the artist he or she is writing about. An art critic must present that, which is reasonable to the artist. The work of an art reviewer and a critic-hermeneutic should only be akin to this.
Art-criticism is the driver which means a lot on the arena of artists. An art critic is the mediator showing a worth of the art movement and the artistic background of the painters and sculptors belonging to it. My ideal is a Socratic talk between the artist and the critic. The talk is not possible there, where critic is an arrogant intellectual and a clown of the salon. I have talked with Giorgi Danibegashvili about his art and the purpose of art in general many times. The silhouette of this response was sketched precisely after these talks. The painter and sculptor who has created unusual, masterly artworks for the Georgian art space, needs a support, objective evaluation and presentation. The young gifted creator must have an impartial review as a symbolic advance, which will define his place on the art stage and his status. He must be convinced that he is understood, that he has a recognition, for he should be able to continue his work with increased excitement and demure volition.
The institute of art criticism and art analytics struggles to exist. In my point of view, Giorgi Danibegashvili hasn't received the attention and recognition he deserves. Many plagiaries, epatages, improvisations, mimicries and kitsches are being created in the Georgian art space. The trend in the present situation of art is that many painters and sculptors don't subject their work to a concept, artistic gnome, causing the affluence of kitschism and art-trolling. Painters simply use their technical skills of using a brush and a curving tool and do not subject their work to an idea. Too many artworks are being created in this way and an attentive art critic has to observe this instantly, in spite of how beautifully such artworks are created. Lowering of an art-bar contributed to multiplication of cursory, fake, simulative paintings, catastrophic sculptures created by art-doers. These paintings are being displayed on exhibitions and the low grade sculptures are erected in the public squares. I will speak of the kitschization and dilapidation of Georgian art later.
An art critic is a philosopher, art phenomenologist, who discovers the idea put in the artworks and evaluates how completed has the author expressed it, where and to what degree has flickered or fully manifested itself theia moira (the divine gift), how ready was the artist to receive a heavenly inspiration and how capable was he or she to retain it in the self. There is no doubt it should be said, what defect an artwork has and for what reason. An art critic and art analytic is a paidagogos, having the enlightening mission, accomplishing the paideia of art and makes accustomed the bohemian public of museums to seriousness, strictness of discourse. An art critic makes clear why is the work of this or that artist actual and worth to know.
I will express my opinion and present it to the fearsome trial of philosophers, severe art critics and experienced painters. Watching Giorgi Danibegashvili's works (the exhibition was held in february 18 in 2015 in Karvasla with the title Ecstasy of Time) I remembered Jonathan Crary's analysis Techniques of The observer. Here Crary says that "techniques of the observer", invented in 19th century, only partly was adopted in 20th century and many of them were forgotten. Crary sets forth the history of development of visuality and describes the optical devices of old days (stereoscope, phenakistosope, etc.). Stereoscope was used for viewing dimensional images. It was the prototype of present-day 3D. I want to remember here also the opinion of Walter Benjamin, that photography and cinematography even out the unique in art.
Giorgi Danibegashvili's wall installations are kind of anamnesis of that, which we, enchanted with the coloring of cinema and internet, already have forgotten. Observing Giorgi's wall sculptures, distinguished with a photographic accuracy made by human hand, revives the gift of observing we have lost thanks to the unprecedented development of visual technology. And that's not all. With its informational abundance internet erased the boundary between the cognizer and the consumer of art. Nonconformism and true innovation have become difficult to distinguish on the art arena because of the new consumerist forms invented by bohema. Innovations in art have become a commodity fetish and incentive for the next wave of snobism. Cinema with it's animation programs and internet also, made already shallow public more lazy; It is no longer able to contemplate about art. Internet has transmuted everything to art and subjected it to consumption.
What caught my eye in the first place watching Giorgi's sculptural opuses? It was his assiduous curiosity that gleams out of every thirteen exponents of this exhibition. I was convinced that the author just had said a new word in Georgian art space. The measurements of the technically flawlessly created installations are strictly defined. If any of them were slightly bigger or smaller, the intention and the goal of the author could not be expressed so apodictically. Giorgi possesses a strong sensation of colors and has found exactly which combination of colors should be in any installation. Giorgi's installations are non-fiction in art. Each and every work presented here is a document of author's life and cognitive path. What we see in these works are author's life, his feelings, his retention and protention, his reflection and immanentism. Giorgi relfects upon time and tries to imbue his works with the temporal and hyperuranic essence. His art is elite and is not easy to understand. Giorgi Danibegashvili is not the kind of artist craving for a numerous audience and attention of television. Among the Georgian artists whom I know personally, Giorgi is exceptional in that, he incessantly reads ancient philosophy texts. It is antiquity that gives his art such might and genuinity. One might ask, how is it possible that Giorgi Danibegashvili who works in contemporary art resides with antiquity? I will say on this later.
Giorgi seeks in an ecstatic, Platonic manner and risks to be a constant seeker and questioner in his art. This is a risk he is not afraid to take. Creative seeking is risk-taking in a way that you may fail to find anything. Seeking is a heavy burden in that, your achievement in this process imperatively is calling you to achieve more. Here you may be tempted to transform your achievement system into dogmatism, to shirk the burden and the risk of seeking. Art is a way of cognition and the demonic problem of solipsism exists also in here. True seeking in art is Promethian and it can never be different. Art is a temptation for being an artist and creator and also being a tempter by means of creating images of beautiful. Giorgi Danibegashvili walks in the path of Plato and leans towards Plato, poses Platonic questions. In his works the young artists calls us to be his co-creators, the constitutors of the possibilities to interpret his installations. His sculptures are immaterial in essence and saturated with the mania of Platonic ενθουσίασις (enthusiasm - the divine incitement). The ενθουσίασις is close to ecstasy and here I am coming closer to illustrate why the author named these works Ecstasy of Time. The author himself is in a state of ecstasy when creating these original sculptures. The author is trying to cross the borders of time and reflect in his art hitherto inexpressible.
How is it possible that Giorgi Danibegashvili's contemporary art, which is close to the postmodern, can be Platonic? Giorgi's contemporary art is a getting out of postmodernism, overcoming the dogmatized relativism and nominalism of the postmodern. Giorgi's Ecstasy of Time is a deconstruction with a united concept, creating a gnome capable of unification and synthesize of grand universalistic interpretations. Furthermore, these exponents indicate the beginning of post-liberalism. In recent history, postmodernism and liberalism have been walking together for decades. Liberalism proved to be unable to reconcile with any teaching besides nominalism and Pyrrhonism. Giorgi Danibegashvili's conceptualism is marking a new horizon and founding the overcoming of postmodernism thus ingrained in Georgian art-system. The exponents of Ecstasy of time are philosophy and need to be evaluated philosophically. Observation of these outstanding art-objects makes us perceive the levels which, in Giorgi Danibegashvili's point of view, manifest themselves in wall sculptures and not in painting. This is a sculptural painting. This is a new way of representing an art-object. As far as I know, nobody has worked in so concentrated and serious way in here. These works with their figurativeness, geometric forms and colors, present themselves the questions that are permanently actual to the mortals, not the answers. Critics may ask, why has Giorgi Danibegashvili switched from painting to wall sculptures? A true artist is true as long as he or she can work not only in painting, but also in sculpture. This exhibition was a debut of a sculptor and here Giorgi proved to be capable of being a sculptor. In his works we can see that, he has zealously been preparing to switch from painting to sculpture. He intends to annihilate a brush in his pictorial sculpture. His installations are a direct relation to color without a brush. The color map of these installations is a spiritual state of the author, a documented expression of his creative flame. This is his meditative contemporary.
When seeing the unquestionable innovativeness in exponents, when observing the originality of the works of art, it is hard to overcome sentimentalism and emotion and to settle the philosophical comprehension of these works in the first place. The uneasiness of comprehension is increasing, when the author is creating with the use of the methods and the means of a widespread movement and not by denying them, and thus, departing this movement. The art-label created by Giorgi is a reinterpretation of the modern in art and it encourages the observer to continue this interpretation. This is the intersubjectivity between the artist and the observer, which is a rather rare phenomenon in the era of internet and animation programs. Such intersubjectivity makes us the hermeneutics of art. This is a philosophical, Socratic openness, not a liberal one. The liberal openness is a buffoonery, cynicism and falseness. The Socratic openness is totally different and it doesn't need ideological justifications, as in the case of the liberal openness. Giorgi's Ecstasy of Time is also a performance transformed into intersubjectivity. Between the author-performer and the observer art-critic begins symphilosophein (joint philosophizing). In order to understand Ecstasy of Time, the observer must be philosophically prepared. Otherwise, the significate (symbolic signs) in these exponents will be incomprehensible for him or her.
Contemporary means to be with time, in synchronicity with it. The translation of "contemporary art" in Georgian language doesn't represent properly the semantic of this widespread English term. Hence, it's necessary to define more accurately, what contemporary art means. Dadaism founded the beginning of contemporary art. Let's remember Marcel Duchamp, who created the exhibition exponent out of a urinal made of industrial porcelain enamel. What was his goal? The goal was that an item of a daily use, the most trivial serially produced good was transmuted into an art object and it's hitherto unnoticed essence became evident. This uncovering of the essence made room for interpretations. Contemporary art outshined modern art. Contemporary art parted from the hitherto existing painting and sculpting practices. It began to use the mediums never used before. Multimedia appeared. On the art stage emerged postmodernist streams that saturated many art movements. Postmodernism had the positive trait that made gifted artists search for the new forms of expression. This is the same situation as in the time of Plato, the polemist annealed in the debates with a sophists, the philosopher overcoming the sophistic baits, entered a new horizon. The positive trait of sophistry was the training of a mind with syllogistic constructions and encouraging the thinker to see the might or weakness of a sophistic thesis. Plato's philosophy is a big debate with sophistry. Sophistry intrudes also into art in the form of various artistic theories and the real artist is he or she, who can see the positive side of these art-sophisms and raises on the level of universalities with their Socratic-Platonic overcoming.
Since Giorgi is a practitioner of the contemporary, it doesn't mean that he rigorously locks up in the boundaries of a single movement. Giorgi's wall installations and also his painting are a revival of old art and a reminiscence in our age that has lost a course. Giorgi uses any material and expressive means. He's a multimedia artist, trying to find the forgotten relations to the old-time art. Giorgi's creative work is a continuation of the classics into present, classics expressed into contemporary art.
What kind of theory and exposition might be created in art by the analysts and artists of our time (Clement Greenberg, Rosalind E. Krauss, Giorgio Agamben, Irit Rogoff, Marek Bartelik, Peter Schjeldahl, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, etc.), it is impossible to substantiate, that the intention flowing from antiquity has stopped and that a new event is beginning. Antiquity is durational and infinite through historical epochs. This is a continuation of paideia and humanitas. The ancient intention disappears and appears, but never stops. Renaissance was a reincarnation of antiquity in barbaric Europe. The competence and the personal readiness of an artist is measured by his attitude towards Greek and Roman antiquity and Renaissance antiquity and by the degree of his or her knowledge of the titans of Renaissance. Canvas, oil and tempera date back to Renaissance. Every painter has to do with these materials in spite of the movement he or she belongs to.
Not only modern art, minimalism, conceptualism, abstract expressionism, orphism, cubism and contemporary art, but every theory in art is an interpretation of Platonic ideas. An art-process, how radical and controversial it may be, still has to do with Platonic idea of beauty and mythology. The modern in art is a continuation of mythology by means of rejecting mythology. This is strange and paradoxical, but this is true. The modern brought in art the themes of revolution, masses and industry, but all of these is just modified humanitas and mythology. What is going on today in such a multidimensional and affluent art? The ancient debate between Socrates and a sophist Hippias (Plato's dialogue Hippias the Major) goes on. The subject of the dialogue is a question of beauty. What is beauty (kalon) and beautiful (kalos)? Yes, the conceptual apparatus of art and art-analytics, it is logical constructions are more multilateral, but this whole polemics on the essence of art has to do with the 2500 years old question, in the dialogue between Socrates and Hippias.
The question of beauty is rather anatreptic (polemical), despite the fact that after Plato, many has been written on this issue. Consideration of the question of beauty is a bridge that links us with the biggest problems of philosophy. In the wall sculptures of Giorgi Danibegashvili also emerges the ancient theme beginning from Plato's Meno and Theaetetus. This is the relations of senses and thought, a theory of anamnesis. The gnoseological problems existing in philosophy and art grew from Plato's Theaetetus. Husserl deals with these issues phenomenologically.
The conceptual works gathered together in Ecstasy of Time, are given a special power by philosophical basis. The visualization of author's senses is rather alluring. In these sculptures are portrayed the immanent reflexes of senses and memory. These spatial and dimensional compositions are temporal and con-temporal and makes us think about the enigma of time. Giorgi is very concerned with the question of time - what is time? His art is a quest for time in this timeless time. His opuses are the effort to catch the temporal moments. These installations are artistic analysis of subjective time and time consciousness. The sculptures united in Ecstasy of time have no titles. The author did not give them titles intentionally. All of the thirteen works are a united stream of the phenomenological consciousness. Here I have to say, that Husserlian phenomenology is Platonism. Yes, Husserl argued that his philosophy wasn't Platonic, but this is impossible! The roads of Platonism and phenomenology are crossed many times. Husserl's phenomenology developed as Heideggerian Platonism. This was the most natural way to interpret it. A true phenomenology is Platonism again, the return to Plato through a long way.
To me as a philosopher, Giorgi Danibegashvili's Ecstasy of Time is rather close and affined. The immanentism of these works was astounding for me. What I saw was the power of Platonic ideas in art. Giorgi's wall sculptures are time gestalt (Zeitgestalt). All of the thirteen works presented here are distinguished with their temporal framework and are highlighting in relief the problem of inner consciousness of time before the observer. The author has worked really hard to represent in his sculptures the intuitive experience of time, which is entitled as Zeitanschauung with Brentano and Husserl.
Sculpture implies being static, determined once for all, like ancient Egyptian sculptures, for instance. Giorgi's sculptures are flowing, mobile and follow the stream of consciousness. These art-objects remain on the border of the two worlds and we observe their fibrillation, tremor and glimmer of colors. This is very difficult to achieve in sculpture and Giorgi has achieved it. Representation of an idea is primary for him and the duality of his works serves this. These are inquiring sculptures and only a few observers are capable of finding the answers. These sculptures are symphony of colors. With Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann we encounter synesthesia, when color is perceived by sound. I see the same phenomenon in Giorgi's sculptures also. His colors are phonemes. In Plato's dialogue Ion, Socrates says, that poets are divinely inspired and that poetry cannot be done with only knowledge. According to Socrates and Plato, a true inspiration is found only with a knowledgeable creator. This estimation of Plato fits not only to poetry, but also to painting and sculpture. Only proficiency, mastering of the use of a brush and a carving tool, does not make a great work. The issue of inspiration and invocation of muses is totally vanished in contemporary crypto-misanthropic and nihilistic art.
One characteristic of the author of the exhibition should necessarily be noted. This is the presentation of installations in two. One of his works (47x33cm) resembles to Khakhuli triptych. Indigo symbolizes the religious and the mythological. There are only two colors: indigo and gold. Six golden centers are aligned below and above them, in the golden arc, a walnut is placed. This is a sign expressing high hierarchy, the grantor of light, the residence of superconscious. The six centers are the past, the present and the future. These are seven skies and also seven stars. When watching the combination of these colors, it is impossible not to remember the ancient Egyptian art, where indigo and gold are dominant colors. The second installation is on the white background. White and gold symbolize purity, the divine sacredness and perfection. One is attracted to these two works with the silhouette of a triptych even from a distance. I can't remember anyone in Georgian art, who has represented his works in two. This is quite original decision in art. A superficial observer will be confused by this duality of the installations. A good conception is a wooden cross on the red background (24x24 cm). A joining of four rectangles creates a quadrate in the center. In the heart of the quadrate is placed a gilt walnut circumscribed by the white cycle. Purple precisely suits the cross of such combination. The most accurate artistic discovery! If the walnut is in the upper part of the installation resembled to Khakhuli triptych, here, it is in the center. The walnut is in the center of the quadrate and in the center of the cross simultaneously. It's like if one installation is created by the synthesis of several other works. The black cross on the white background is of the same form and size, but of a different color and, therefore, different artistic meaning. Here also, in the center is placed a golden walnut, but it is circumscribed by red cycle. Eye-catching is the next work, where two wooden quadrates denote two different worlds, which are triadically intersecting with three vertical line, but still remaining as separate worlds at the same time. If we observe this installation on the other background, it transforms and becomes different. The tetramorphism of this work communes us with the inceptional sacral four. Joseph Kosuth used to place texts on the different background, thus giving them new meanings.
Eye-catching is the combination of red and black in the work (33x25 cm), where six parallel wooden lines are aligned on the red background. The whole installation is performed on the black background. The form, the combination of red and black and the maximally expressed content with minimal expressive techniques are excellent. The six lines, six verticals present themselves a permanent longing of a mortal for a divine. In the second work of the same size, six parallel lines are on the black background and on the left are thick red boundaries. You must observe both of the works synchronously, for the re-birth of a forgotten specific vision to occur in you, which is necessary for the understanding of the works like these. For this exact reason I have mentioned John Crary in the beginning of the review. In the other work (36x27 cm), the indigo horizon is circumscribed by black boundaries and in the next work, the black horizon is circumscribed by indigo boundaries. Celestial is limited with a world of Maya. This is the essence of the first work. But in the second one, the veil of Maya is overcome by celestial power. Blue is a celestial world and black is a calamitous transient world existent in time. The combination of these two worlds gives a good visual expressiveness to the both installations. Blue and black are two contrasts, two antagonists, which are always side-by-side. A gross meaning is expressed by minimal means. The work with octagonal shape attracts attention with its combination of colors and the configuration of shapes. The open book with white walnuts is exceptional on this exhibition in that, it is not a wall installation. Here the author has told in an original manner of the ancient problem of one and multiplity, which we encounter with Plato and Neoplatonists. The multiple is retained in the one. This is a black book of cognition. Pure wisdom is arising from the darkness of the Creation. In this work, black and white are represented in a contrasting manner. Eighteen walnuts are placed on the open book and here, this number has a sacral essence. The purity of a cognition is preserved in the black book. The black book is opened on the black background and here also is the combination of red and black. The conjunction of these colors dates back to alchemy and hermeneutics. The inspiration for creating this installation was Heidegger's work The Origin of the Work of Art. These white walnuts also denote a stream of the phenomenological consciousness. The installation is entirely irrational in its colors, form and meaning. In the earlier conversation Giorgi posed a question: to what degree is it possible to express Heidegger's Sein in art? He is trying to solve this difficult problem in these works.
In the end, I want to discuss what is, in my opinion, the beauty of this exhibition. This is a pyramidal dual rainbow, the top of which is a golden vertical line (41x17 cm). Two rainbows are conjoining in the golden zenith. The installation is a vertical and not merely vertical. A rainbow is arcuate in nature. But here it is arrowy and is inclined towards the sky. Here, the rainbow is imperative, acuminated. A rainbow that appears in the sky after the rain is feminine, soft and is regarded as a sign of god's favor from the biblical era, when Noah remained in the arc. A rainbow in the clouds stirs hope and motherly feeling. Giorgi's rainbow is masculine, Nietzschean and rather frightens than comforts the expectant. A rainbow is descending below from the sky, but here the dual rainbow is inclining from the ground towards the sky. The pyramidal dual rainbow, arrowy rainbow is a great masterpiece! This wall pyramid is a stunning work of art, that charmed me on the exhibition and I was contemplating about it for a long time. You can't say that you saw it. It must be contemplated! The essence of this masterpiece can be unveiled only through silent contemplating. The road of human rise, the end of perfection is gold. Human is transmuted into gold. This is the ultimate goal of alchemy, esotericism, hermeticism. The base of the installation here is purple colors. Blue is closer to golden center and vertical line. The two rainbows, longing from the temporal to the perpetual, seizes us and doesn't let go. It's image is inscribed in our memory and makes us remember from time to time, what is the fate of a mortal and the goal of his or her way. Here I remember Plato's Hippias the Major again, which the king of philosophers ends with a Greek proverb: Χαλεπά τα καλά (beauty is harsh). The sage Solon is regarded as the author of these words. Yes, it is pretty harsh to create beauty and, at the same time, to be on the way of perfection and beauty. This dialogue of Plato begins with an ironical appeal of Socrates to Hippias: O, fair and wise (o kalos te kai sophos)! An artist must always strive be truly fair and wise, and the hawklike eyesight of Socrates should not be able to find anything deserving irony in it! A true artist has a communion with wit and is wise (sophon)!
Anyone with a philosophical sight will gain a lot by contemplating about these works and it will make him think on the questions, he or she has never thought about. It should be noted also that the author of the exponents of Ecstasy of Time is a musician and a great adept of classical music. It is impossible that his art is free from musical influence. The wall sculptures of the musician-painter Giorgi Danibegashvili must be exported abroad and must be exhibited in the galleries of New York, Paris and St. Petersburg. Let's make way for this highly talented, creatively growing young artist! He will create the works that the world will see!