Robishan, born in Azerbaijan in 1970, has graduated the Academy of Fine Arts. In Israel since 1994. He is a member of the Israel Association of Writers.
‘Painting is a thought.’
When I was 4 I would take two sticks, get on a chair and direct an imaginary orchestra waiting for the music to start playing in the air. When nothing was happening I was getting upset and would start crying and shouting ‘Why is music not playing?’. At that time my family already thought I would be an artist.
As a boy, I also liked to draw as many other kids. However, while children normally switch to other interests as they grow, I went on drawing, and I only loved it more and more as the time passed by.
‘Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has a hold on me forever. That is the significance of this blessed moment. Color and I are one. I am a painter.’
A painter once said that all normal kids stop drawing at the right time, and those who don’t become painters. I was one of those who could not stop. It took me about 15 years to become the painter I am. But even today I still learn and improve every single day, I find something new, move forward by learning new techniques both those of old and contemporary artists and by studying ancient art, from parietal drawings to the most recent works and possibilities for the painters of today. Artists of different ages and schools have been providing their answers to the questions regarding art, and I agree with many of them. If you ask me who my teachers are I would say it’s all the painters of the past, the present, and the future.
‘Monet is only an eye, but my God, what an eye!’
I really want my paintings to sing, to sound and to radiate light. I work hard on it, I experiment and have achieved a lot in this direction. I am certain that for my paintings to sing they need to have their own voice, a language of their own, both in terms of light and form.
I love experimenting, exploring the unknown and opening something new for myself and for those interested in art.
Israel was a big eye opener to me. Before moving to Israel I could not even imagine how many talented painters were there. When I was 14 I used to ask my uncle, who was already living in Israel, on the phone, if there were any painters there. He would always answer calmly that yes, there was everything in the country. Back then I didn’t believe him and thought he was kidding. At that time, we were isolated from the rest of the world and knew next to nothing about what was happening abroad. Later, when I was here, it was so much joy for me to meet the works of the great and unique Marcel Janco, Moshe Castel, Lea Nikel and many others, and also the outstanding Mordecai Ardon. Being such a small country, Israel has a surprisingly wide spectrum of colors and light. All the contrast flavors in the world are here. While breathing them in and studying them I went on painting. And at a certain point, I suddenly thought that I have found what I was always looking for. I was euphoric. I was working like crazy, producing a huge number of paintings, forgetting about everything else. I didn’t eat and didn’t sleep, the only thing I was doing was painting.
‘Do I believe in God? Yes, when I am working.’
It was in 2000. My brother called me on the phone.
Suddenly I see my paintings on a TV screen put for sale at 6 to 8 million dollars. My strength gave out, I fell on the floor speechless and thoughtless. I felt empty. It was a horrible state. Those works belonged to the genius US painter Jasper Johns whom, to my embarrassment, I didn’t know at the time.
I destroyed about four hundred of my large paintings as they looked so much similar to those of the American artist, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Eventually thanks to this genius painter I managed to get back on my feet and start a new leaf. His oeuvre raised my soul and I started to create paintings in the spirit of my teachers who now had one more great painter among them.
‘Having mixed the energy of the colors of my heart and my soul, having drank from the heat of the sun, I paint the very sense of my feelings on the pure white canvas.’
It’s hard to say what my style is. I think it’s yet to be determined and I guess it will be something new, not like anything else. Some people call it ‘very passionate expressionism’ but I don’t think so. I would call my style ‘poetry of crystallographic abstraction’ or ‘poetry of light-graphic abstraction’.
It was light that was always of my primary interest in color. Many people think that my canvases are processed and primed in some special way, which makes each canvas radiate light as if there was a blazing sun hidden behind it. It took me a lot of effort to achieve this effect in my paintings and made me ruin quite a few canvases on the way.
I think the concept of a painting should be set so high that the colors and the form wouldn’t stand in the way of the artist’s idea. And the light should divide and combine them together at the same time, making the complex simple so that the idea could be seen and heard.
To my mind, everything on a canvas should be energized and self-sufficient and should stand in opposition to each other, from the idea to the last brush stroke, while the light should soften and calm everything down. So that the viewer looking at the painting could sense the artist’s mood and feel emotional euphoria and the perfect beauty.
‘The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions. The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point.’