"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a star." -Nietzche
Commentary By S. Sheehan, Essayist
The present artwork of F. Ligvani’s revolves around the concept that he has named as “Obstacleism.” His non- representational artwork is a unity with three aspects portrayed in three series, entitled as: Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis. His journey through these series elaborates on the concept of Obstaclism, a concept that has been based upon his own personal experiments performed scientifically and artistically in the laboratory of his mind and in his art studio. It was his yearning for simplicity that propelled him from the domain of mere intellectual acceptance into the real sense of experiments.
His thirst for simplicity is not the denial but the declutterization of complexity, a nostalgic desire to face “simple” with a naked eye for dauntlessly looking. “Obstacleism” then can be referred to as “a unity in process” and this process has revealed itself in his personal experiences in art, in engineering, and in life. He finds obstacles as the very reason, motivation and the essence of existence. His art reveals the absence of reality, as we know it or rather the absence of the familiar appearance of objects and things. What these experiences brought him was the conviction that with the absence of obstacles, life would not exist. Obstacles can be viewed as the very awakening element that brings the latent, invisible, and quiescent power of all living forms into actualization.
A discreet artist that he is, Ligvani’s artwork needs to be looked at through the lens of symbols. His images are not descriptive but symbolic conveying his ideas through codes, riddles and symbols as the shortest way to express his concepts. Symbols are the timeless validity of existence, untrue themselves but the revealer of the truth. Symbol’s function is not to inform but to train the mind for the exploration of the mysterious, the magical, the invisible, and all of which make life meaningful and worthwhile to live. Codes can also be placed under the same category. They are not to be revealed or described but to give wings to the imagination of Man to fly into the immensity of the unlimited, to boggle the magical mind, and to penetrate the linking heart of Man. In short, symbols and codes are the winged residents of the domain of imagination. They soar beyond and above the suffocating imprisonment of conventionalism!
In the Thesis series Ligvani’s attempt is to delve into energy as the potential, the blue print, the ideal, or the intent aspect of the unity ;In the Antithesis series his focus is shifted to the form aspect or obstacles themselves. It is seemingly a given in his art that neither Thesis nor Antithesis is a separate entity working on its own. Antithesis is an integral part of the Thesis and vice versa. Their constant interaction can be seen as a both-ness, as the two extremities of the same unity that constitute a continuum, a flowing process of contrasts and oppositions that dance together fluidly. This is the nature of Creation. Creation is based upon polarity, the polarity of the yin/yang, spirit/matter, light/dark, positive/negative, and the like as the two aspects of the one entity. What is potential or unmanifest is pure existence with no form or the characteristics of form. What we see in his symbology is that potential or the pure energy as a current, a continuous flow that if nothing gets in its way there will be no creation. The ever movement of the energy or the current has to be stopped, impeded or as Ligvani puts it, “hindered” or “deviated” by obstacles for the sake of creation. “Potential” is not a form but carries the seed to appear in myriad of forms. And Ligvani is giving us a ride on his journey to the domain of his observations and experiences where obstacles reside! He is taking us to the old magical land of obstacles or “hindrance” to be visited but only with new eyes for the understanding of the magnitude of a specified characteristic or quality disguised in that land!
The arrangement and rearrangement of these forms in a variety of ways in the two series certainly do not convey a robotic repetition but reveal the ever-shifting, and the ever presence of the essence of “obstacles” in nature as not only the agent of change, adding taste, grace and meaning to life but also as the embodiment of true uniqueness which is the very property of the form.
This brings us to another aspect of his work that reveals the innate ability possessed by any life form in nature for adaptation. Adaptation is but a beautiful rhythmic and harmonious dance of obstacles with living forms that has been choreographed by Nature. We see this dance of adaptation, this vibration as the signal flares of new growth, metamorphosis, and transformation in the geometric forms he has brought into his artwork. Spheres are but the transformation or transmutation of lines, triangles and other geometric shapes. The slow movements of the geometric shapes into various steps harbors the early stages of the dance commencing from the point of rawness or crudity toward polish and refinement, and the final stage of roundedness or perfection. And he, very subtly and artistically leaves room for improvisation in the dance to where the dominance of logic can step off side! And aside from his humble attitude and the fact that he, other than offering the results of his many experiments in an artistic form claims no message of exclusivity, one can dig below the surface and find invaluable subtlety.
It is obvious that he projects no intention to glorify or validate obstacles in the fixated frame of prevalent views, or the passive acceptance of whatever is by falling into the trap of escapism. What can be sensed in his art is that struggles provoked and activated by obstacles cultivate the lives of all beings and life of Man to truly feel the “experience of being alive” as the late Joseph Campbell has put it. And this has ever been the mission of all seekers to unceasingly encounter the multitude of seemingly impossible and impassable tasks to overcome the perils one after another for the fulfilling of their missions. It was under the aegis of obstacle(s) and its multifarious characteristics the Greek Ulysses, Hercules, Prometheus, Biblical Job, the Persian Rostam, Jamshid, and the shamans, Sufis, mystics, artists, philosophers, scientists, physicists and the like who dared stepping beyond the taboos around obstacles and becoming but the conduits, and the light keepers for the stragglers on the earlier stages of their journeys.
One can obviously witness the absence of a pathological interpretation attributed to the real concept of obstacles by those who are the devotees of conformity. His reverence for individuality in a collective world reflects an immense joy exclusive to those who believe it, do it and then see it. No wonder that Ligvani’s essence of artistic perception of the world reflects itself in his abstract forms. What he sees as abstract is the actual real.
“Abstraction” in his view is the “real behind that real” which has been habitually perceived by the masses and commonly accepted and agreed upon. For him, the rules of concrete real do not comply with the rules of abstraction. “Abstract”, to him is the invisible potential, bearing myriads of possibilities, and this is what one can read in between the lines. Surely, the consensus reality or the collective opinion about reality is what Ligvani is avoiding in his artwork because he finds them limitative. His distance from any sort of restriction can be seen in his kaleidoscopic collection. With the change of one piece the whole geometry of the kaleidoscope changes!
His way of presenting “Obstacleism” in an abstract fashion defies generic living, and the robotic and mechanistic way of dancing of the elements in nature. His Obstacleism offers the best coal to radiate its joyful heat as the fuel for the burning of illusions encompassing abstraction.
The circles reflect a metaphoric sense of Joy. Joy is circular and this is not far from the truth as sphere is inclusive and embracive by nature. Joy too, is panoramic, spherical and inclusive. Although he might reject the above lines as a statement, I think Ligvani’s interpretation of joy and happiness is delicately and subtly veiled or disguised in his concept of “obstacleism” without which no joy is ever felt. The taste of true happiness seems to be deeply rooted in the heart of “obstacleism” which he expresses abstractly. That is why, Ligvani’s work is by no means a two-dimensional passive pretty, but beautiful, dynamic, active, determined, and piercing. Colors and shapes have a symbiotic relationship; at times contrasting, often very glowingly rich and yet gracefully congruent. His colors are choreographed in a manner to flow, glide and move in congruence with the circles, triangles and lines. And this raises the question, “is he coloring the obstacles to hide the harshness of its edginess or is he magnifying the real beauty in obstacle with colors? He certainly has his own way in beautification and his choice of colors corroborates this fact. As Sir Francis Bacon has put it, “There are ill discoverers that think there is no land when they can see nothing but sea.” And this will end us with an overall assessment of Ligvani’s present work that the secret of his magical art is rooted in his amphibious vision. He as an artist of many colors and talents stands in between the land and the sea where the real magic dwells.
S. Sheehan, Essayist