“I consider Nature to be my most important teacher…”
Paul Zimmerman in conversation with Papuna Dabrundashvili
Paul Zimmerman: Congratulations on your upcoming exhibition in New York. Tell us about selections for this show.
Papuna Dabrundashvili: Thank you very much. I am happy to have this opportunity. I will be exhibiting my most recent sculptural pieces, mainly created here, in New York City. As well as some already sold pieces, which I have borrowed back from the private collectors. This time I also would like to display graphic drawings, which precede the sculptures. By doing so, the viewers will get the feel of my work process.
PZ: You are a New York based artist born in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Does it have any impact on your art?
PD: Yes, of course. In my opinion, it is extremely important for anybody, and especially for the artist, to seek different places and cultures for the inspiration. Certainly, it is harder to grow in the same environment. Will be fair to say, that New York has influenced my art, as well as myself in general. I even made a sculpture, which I named “New York”, different color shapes standing side by side. I believe, this city is a perfect model to how can people of thousand cultures and backgrounds can live and thrive together. The sculpture “NY” represents the model of a world, where different people live together in peace. This idea has even inspired me to write a little poem, titled “Worlds Inside the World”.
I met a world containing many worlds within,
With people there of different races,
Different minds and beliefs,
Thoughts and glances,
Visions, conscience, and dreams.
Living together, loving,
Understanding, respecting one another!
PZ: Natural materials and biomorphic forms are present in your sculptures. Is nature important for your vision?
PD: Yes, indeed so. I am glad you have noticed the nature influence on my work. I consider Nature to be my most important teacher, source of prolific inspiration. It is overwhelmingly powerful with its endless shapes and shades, forms and colors, movements, and harmony. Inspiration jumps at me from every corner, from the little dry stick to a large wrinkly bolder. I try to spend my free time in the nature, on the fields of green, in the maze of forests, at the majesty of mountains, in the blues of the sea, and browns of the desert. If I do not have the time for the nature trips, it comes to me in my sleep, overwhelms my dreams, feeds my muse…
PZ: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
PD: I work in two ways. One way is when I start with the sketch.Then, I make a model. Lastly, I continue in the stone, improvising throughout, of course.This process is easier for me, but less rewarding, I must say. Another way is when I start straight with the stone, hands on, without a sketch, or preconceived idea. I try to find the form, the shape, the flow… This is the harder way. I take risks, I seek, I persist… and voila! I see it, I get closer and closer. This is the peak of my artistic pleasures. I arrive! I surprise myself with the result since it was not planned. I am satisfied! I am happy! Life is beautiful!!! The music is the witness of all this, it is also part of my work process, my sole soother, my inspiration.
PZ: Do you have any particular goal in mind when your start a new piece?
PD: My goal is for me and my subconscious to come together to come up with the form, that is real, affective, and inspiring. Being real, affective, and inspiring, on the other hand, are the fruits of our sufferings and pleasures together. It is not an occasional thing; it is our working style.
PZ: How do you know when the sculpture is finished?
PD: It is extremely hard to stop at times. I can continue forever peeling the layers of stone, until it is gone completely. I have new vision and directions for the piece forever, really. You can achieve many beautiful shapes until you run out of the material altogether. It has happened to me before, but it is better to stop and save some ideas for the next piece. Though it is tempting to keep going, I commend myself to stop.
PZ: Did your practice change over time?
PD: In time artist grows, learns, discovers. All these reflects on his or her art. One gets more skilled and achieves desired forms much faster and with less effort. Therefore, continuous practice is important for an artist. It opens new doors, takes you to new direction… Sky is the limit!
PZ: Which artists are you most influenced by?
PD: Nobody, and everybody to some extent. My likes and dislikes have changed throughout my life of course. Consciously or subconsciously, we are influenced by our predecessors. I try to listen to inner me and it prefers abstract over classic, for sure. We feel more comfortable and freer through such expressions. Some of my favorite sculptors have been: Henry Moor, Noguchi, Louise Bourgeois, Jean Arp, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Marino Marini, Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brancusi and more.
PZ: How would you define art?
PD: Life without the art will be gloomy, boring, and monotonous. Art makes our everyday life colorful. Art helps us communicate our feelings, thoughts, and vision. I believe, the freer is the spirit of the cookie cutter type influences, the richer is art that flows out of it, more unique, honest, and real. I believe this is true art!
PZ: What are you working on now?
PD: I have many ideas for the future. Some of it will be fusing different mediums and creating a unique style. It is my personal invention and do not want to elaborate further for now. Also am working on a new project in stone.
PZ: How does the pandemic influence your work and sensibility?
PD: Whole world has suffered Due to covid-19. My heart goes for the lives that were lost. My condolences. This loss cannot be recovered. Suffered every system and profession. It has brought lots of stagnation in the arts also. Many projects and shows were canceled or paused for me too. But I am optimistic that soon all these will be behind, and we will start with more vigor and enthusiasm. There are many interesting projects and shows ahead and I cannot wait to be the part of it all. I am working on one piece that will represent the pain pandemic brought to our world.
I thank you for your interest in me and my art. I wish and hope we collaborate again in the future.