Open space of TEMO SVIRELY
Nearly every abstract expressionist has attempted in one way or another to capture space. The reason is obvious: What is more abstract and more difficult to express? What escapes any description or even metaphor?
How to communicate in a manner that can act as a pathway to the observer so that he or she can also experience that space? Many artists attempt by creating contrast to space such as solidity, overcrowding , boundary or fixed reference. But many of these attempts, though some of them as glorious as Malevich`s Black Square, suffer from an important limitation: they deal only with the geometrical aspect of space. Some have also employed the additional possibilities of expression of movement but still within the context of geometry. One may ask: why should that not be enough? Is there anything else which is inherent to space other than geometry? The answer is: yes, energy. It is not just metaphysics. To the contrary, it is conventional physics. One would not be able to say anything about space if not for energy. You may say: what about matter which is contained in space, is that not enough? But as Einstein discovered in the early twentieth century, what we loosely call matter is just one of the many expressions of energy. Space and energy are absolutely inseparable. Space continually gives birth to energy and energy dissolves into space . Again this is not poetic metaphor but physics which discovered the spontaneously manifesting energy of the vacuum. So it appears that abstract expressionism faces another challenge: to express not only space itself but also the timeless play of space and energy. The challenge is very profound, that of being able to leap from the standard metaphor of space and geometry to that of space and energy. TEMO SVIRELY is one of the few artists not intimidated by this challenge. He does not aggressively provide you with an answer but fearlessly takes you on a journey allowing you to glimpse his realizations of space.
In his early works TEMO has focused more on energy. Let us look 3 of his paintings: Spring May (200×145, canvas, oil, 2001), Spring April (200×145, canvas, oil, 2001), Untitled (80×60, canvas, oil, 2001). From the very beginning his metaphors for energy have unusual qualities: gentleness and humour. These are not the qualities that we customarily associate with energy. We tend to associate energy with more overt qualities such as the rushing of water, the rumble of thunder or the tremor of an earthquake. But SVIRELY in his explorations has travelled much deeper and is showing us the other faces of energy: luminosity, playfulness and intelligence. In the paintings mentioned above, energy manifests in a multiplicity of cheerful micro forms arranged into subtly hinted self transforming global patterns. At first not obvious, the discovery invites us to a journey to an unexpected dimension. Here SVIRELY uses space to point to, to imply, energy.
But SVIRELY has not stopped here. His explorations into the realm of space and energy take many strikingly different approaches. For example in the triptych White in Life (150×330, canvas, oil, 2007) the approach is reversed. It is the luminous white space which is omnipresent while energy sparkles as a few small diversified shapes in strikingly bright colours. Each part of the triptych shows different interactions of energy and space but all are linked together by a sense of gentle but somewhat mischievous play and humour. A very different approach emerges in the triptych Sigh of Mars (116×267, canvas, oil, 2007). Here the humour and play are replaced by drama. In the left part of the triptych energy enters decisively and powerfully into the black space. It is difficult to say whether it is threatening or giving the promise of light. Such a form of energy cannot remain static and we see in the centre piece the transformation or bursting into a variety of forms and colours The emerging red and white suggest further movement and indeed , in the right piece of the triptych, both red and white establish themselves and the space prepares to give birth again.
I cannot resist but talk about yet another very interesting triptych Looking for butterflies (130×255, canvas, oil, 2003). In the left component, the energy not only textures the white space but manifests in three very definite colour forms. The totality appears in perfect balance which appears to have no need for further expression. But, as we see, in the middle component the situation dramatically changes. The very dark and heavy space seems to overpower the energy which is just hinted by a subtle arrow and smallish bright, colourful shapes at the boundary. We must not forget that space is always ready to give birth, though we do not know the outcome. The answer is in the right part of the triptych where energy bursts into a play of diversity of shapes and colours. Among them appears my favourite motif found in several of TEMO`s paintings: a butterfly. An anecdote: TEMO never painted butterflies until he saw the Bulgakov`s butterfly collection in his museum. Often the butterfly is associated with colour, fragility and impermanence. One could interpret it as the artist`s somewhat tentative view on the totality of human endeavour but this is not the case. It is rather a symbol of the timeless, sparkling dance of space and energy without beginning or end.
I would like to say much more about TEMO`s art but the format of a catalogue does not permit further discussion. So just before parting, I would like to express my wish that TEMO SVIRELY will continue, for our sakes, his fascinating journey into the realm of space and energy so that we can share his discoveries of their timeless play.
Tomasz Pietrzykowski, professor emeritus of computer science, master of buddhist meditation