“I have very far-reaching goals” – Young Georgian Maestro sets about conquering the world with his brush
This man has been a hot topic in Georgia for several weeks now. The young artist whose work caused a great deal of inspiration and was successfully sold at a Sotheby’s auction has already become a mini-celebrity of sorts. This New York Academy of Art student has very ambitious plans and is very realistic about his recent success. Georgian Journal contacted painter Levan Songulashvili to find out more about him and his future goals.
– Who or what influenced you becoming a professional artist?
– Parents play an extremely important role in raising a child and directing his development. I lived in my imaginary world since early childhood, and this inner child is still alive and well in me; in fact, I am in permanent dialogue with it and it provides me with the energy I need to exist and work. I was an only child… I think that nothing happens by coincidence and things just arranged themselves as it was necessary for my creative abilities to develop and grow. My mother’s deep faith and selfless diligent work ethic had a profound influence on my establishment as an independent person and a professional artist.
New York Academy of Art, founded by Andy Warhol, is one of the best higher education establishments for representational art, which is why I decided to enroll there. The academy’s location also influenced my decision. I’ve always felt attracted to massive proportions. New York is the world’s capital and also a worldwide hub for art. I plan to make many of my ideas come true here.
– Do your paintings belong to a particular genre? Can they be classified?
– I have a hard time designating my paintings to a concrete art movement, since they represent a synthesis between surrealism, expressionism, abstract and classic art as well as mysticism and conceptual art. They are hard to solidly classify, which is probably why people say, “It is a different culture and a different kind of art” when looking at them.
– Have any artists had a great influence on you as a man of art?
– I was more influenced by philosophers and psychological tests than particular artists. As Goya used to say, “I have had three masters, Nature, Velasquez, and Rembrandt”, so am I influenced by nature and the soul of a child that wanders the avant-garde.
– What do you think of the tendency of Georgian talent finding its way abroad and finding significantly more success there than in Georgia itself?
– Facts are stubborn things: Ideas and potential that are important for our country usually end up getting realized abroad. Why does this happen? Well, it’s high time we asked ourselves this question and started working on correcting the situation. I believe that if professionals from various works of life unite around an idea of doing something not for personal comfort but for the country and work hard, then Georgia will manage to gain an equal footing with the modern world without even having to resort to megaliths, legends, cuisine and historical golden ages. We definitely do possess this potential.
“Recognition is pleasant, but I rarely give it much thought because it’s like a firework – in one moment it turns all heads and in the next we are looking at the dark sky again. Then we turn around and walk away.“
– What are your future plans?
– I have very far-reaching goals, not only personal ones but also those that will serve the country’s interests. Today, painting has grown in scale as a visual art rather than in its traditional meaning. Its function in the establishment and development of societies is extremely important. Some of my goals involve joint Georgian-American art projects, an exchange of experience and a subsequent active cultural tradeoff between peers and compatriots alike. It will be a breath of fresh air that will help the country find itself, to a certain extent. Cultural breakthroughs in a country were almost always made by individuals or tiny groups of people.
– What happened to your “The Jellyfish”? Did it sell? Which painting’s success was most important for you?
– The fact that my relationship with auctions began with Sotheby’s and passed the art critic commission that selected items for exhibition is definitely pleasing. “The Jellyfish,” a piece created in Tbilisi when I was 22, was exhibited alongside works of the world’s leading artists on October 15. Several art collectors participated in the bidding and eventually, “The Jellyfish” was sold to an American living in New York.
Recognition is pleasant, but I rarely give it much thought because it’s like a firework – in one moment it turns all heads and in the next we are looking at the dark sky again. Then we turn around and walk away.
– In the photos, you can be seen together with many famous people. Did they all come to look at your paintings? Did you receive any commendations or criticism from well-known public figures? As far as we know, Brooke Shields wanted to buy one of your works.
– Yes, my work elicits interest from art critics, fellow artists, musicians, writers, Hollywood actors and many others. I get solo exhibition offers from both within the U.S. and from European countries. Despite massive competition, my portfolio has earned me an invitation to work at the famous Manhattan-based Jeff Koons Studio. At the moment I am preparing to hold a solo exhibition in New York and plan to establish a gallery here.
– Is there a piece among your works that you consider to be your favorite?
– Yes, the one that wasn’t created yet.