The Man Who Thinks With His Fingers
09 October, 2015
The Man Who Thinks With His Fingers
According to the self-taught sculptor Levan Bujiashvili, he thinks with his fingers, and his work fully reflects this. It also seems that Mr. Bujiashvili ran out of space to display his sculptures, and this is why they are scattered all over Tbilisi and other Georgian cities. When walking down Rustaveli Avenue in particular, it is hard to miss tourists and locals alike posing for photos with Bujiashvili’s statues. Some want to get acquainted with the artist who created them, but
few actually follow through with that desire. Luckily, Georgian Journal did. We invited the prolific sculptor for an interview, and here is what he had to say:

“It only takes one touch to feel what I can make from a stone.”

– The results of my work are there for all to see. I think that these sculptures have contributed their share of positivity to the capital’s main boulevard. I am not so fond walking through it myself, but some time ago I had to do so. And to be honest, I found seeing tourists pose with my sculptures to be quite pleasant. Children also seemed to be very fond of them.

– How much of your work decorates Rustaveli Avenue, exactly?

– Initially there were 50 pieces in total, but later some of them got stolen. Now only 42 remain. When I created these sculptures, I named them after my friends and also put down my own name. Since then, many people have sought me out. I can therefore proudly say that a large share of my success is owed precisely to the fact that my work decorates the country’s main avenue. It was a correct step for me to make.

Also, another place with my sculptures is the Artists’ Bar near Tbilisi’s Dry Bridge.

– Another favorite tourist spot, is it not?
– Yes! There stands my “Unknown Artist’s Sculpture.” I tried to keep the scale natural when creating it. It was made specifically for tourists to be photographed with, and the concept worked. The place was chosen strategically, and the sculpture fits the overall theme.

Another one of my works, composed of 21 pieces, stands in Rustavi. Gori and Zestafoni also have several. When choosing my next creation for a city, I always pay attention to whether it would be acceptable for children; if there are no complaints from them, I take it as a step in the right direction.

“I made a family of stone turtles and added a few bottles of mineral water to the composition to specify their origin.”

– Do you have a muse that inspires you?

– Sometimes I invent a muse: When I like a person, I pretend that this person is immaculate and flawless. This does not happen in real life, though. Others have their own lives and I have mine. But if they leave a trace in my thoughts, they become beautifully reflected in my art. I never had an inspiring muse in the classic sense. Here is how my mind works: I am happy when I’m busy with my art; everything else revolves around it. I also do not trust alcohol to help me with my work – all of my sculptures were created when I was fully sober. For me, drinking is associated with something completely different. I do not know whether it is a good or a bad thing.

– Have you ever had to redo any of your works?

– Of course, especially when working with bronze. Since I do not have a classical education, I frequently have to rework things. I can redo a sculpture a thousand times, as long as I get the necessary result, and this process does not cause me any discomfort.

The bigger the sculpture the more interesting it is to work with it. As for materials, aside from wood, I work with bronze, copper and burnished metal. For example, when taking a walk along a riverbank, I look at stones and think, “I can make something from this one or that one.” It only takes one touch to feel what I can make from a stone. Just like that, I think with my fingers.

– In what countries besides Georgia can one encounter your work?

– Just recently I was at a symposium in Baku. It was a meeting of sculptors from all over the world who made their sculptures from used items. I was the only one invited from Georgia. The symposium was supported by Mehriban Aliyeva and openegeotv.ged by her daughter. The work that I brought with me was met with appreciation. I made a family of stone turtles and added a few bottles of mineral water to the composition to specify their origin. Today this family decorates one of Baku’s oldest districts.

Also, in the old part of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, there is a spot where artists like to gather. It is decorated by my “flamingo.”

By the way, in the near future there will be another one of my pieces, featuring ballerinas, added to Tbilisi. But I won’t tell you where it will be located. You’ll have to find that out for yourself in a month.

Author: Eka Salaghaia
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