The iconic and reclusive Georgian painter, Levan Lagidze is having the first in 20 years solo exhibition in London. Katrine Levin gallery presents “Bach Exercises”, an exhibition of new works created specifically for the show. Russian Art and Culture learned more about the artist and his work.

Levan Lagidze, Autumn Gardens, 2018

Why Bach Exercises?

Listening to Bach I see the infinite– the everlasting text sent by the universe that is written when it is encountered. For this reason, Bach is also a teacher of painting. Each measure, rhythm, accent and pause is so precise that his music is always new and unexpected. This is the magic of universal composition. The music you can see or the painting you can listen to…

Tell us your thoughts on colour.

They say that painting is the art of showing colour. To me, however, it is the art of hiding colour. Colour needs to be hidden to entice the viewer into searching deeper.

Levan Lagidze

You have supported emerging Georgian artists for over 30 years. Tell us a little about this.

I am an inheritor of other painters’ artistic paths, and for this journey to continue, that inheritance must be passed on to a future generation. Connecting with younger artists fills me with joy because, as I often say, I began as a “prominent” artist, then I became a “prospective” artist and today I am a “promising” artist and it is my desire to maintain this status till the end.

We are pleased to have you exhibit in London, as you rarely exhibit abroad – what is the reason for this?

I have always found it difficult to collect the number of paintings required for major exhibitions, because my subsistence depends upon selling my art.

Since meeting Katrine Levin, however, our relationship created such an atmosphere of mutual trust, that it inspired and motivated me to direct my whole artistic and organisational resources towards making this happen.

Also, at this stage it became inevitable for me to view my art from a distance. Exhibiting in such an intercultural space as London, on the one hand, is an opportunity to reexamine the path already travelled, and on the other, it is a prerequisite to returning to my studio to dive deep into a new process.

Levan Lagidze, Winter, 2018

What do you think is the main mission of painting in our time?

Today, when space and time for relationships has become constricted, when everyone is always rushing somewhere (as if one could be late for a meeting with oneself!), it has become essential, through art, to seek relationship spaces where we can pause,so that we can catch a glimpse of the infinite, sent like a beacon by the universe, and share this message with each other. To retain this glimpse, we often return to old classical compositions, and we realise that through this communion they become alive once more. We feel as if the artistic process is an infinite game that is not directed towards a goal and thus is never-ending.

I don’t believe that in today’s world the function of art is to shock, provoke or surprise its viewers. Rather, it carries a mission for harmonious existence and happiness.

A relationship with painting is a participation in this infinite happy game.