An holistic vision of the world – Interview to Irina Gabiani

by Alessandro Trabucco


Georgian artist, born in Tbilisi in 1971, the research of Irina Gabiani develops in different artistic media combined in a unic great expressive project which has as a main character the human being in a complete unity with the whole of the universe.


Your thought about world is defined by a vision that you say “Olistic”, would you explain this aspect, please?

The olism ( from Greak όλος, “whole”) considers the organism or the universe only in its whole and its completness.
On this perspective I compare to the world: we all together belong to a unic system, to a “great organism”, that I imagine as a sort of complex interdipendent chain, of which we, and all exists around us, we are parts of.
The relation that join together this “great organism” is very strong: can you imagine what will happen to this chain if even a ring will cut? What I have affirmed now it can be applied to human being and it involves that every our action (or not-action) causes wide range and scope effects.
On these preconditions, it is fondamental to have consciousness about the results of our actions that they affect on farther edge than we see.


How this theory concretely influences your way to work in art?

This concept permeate all my works of art. You can markadly and clearly see in my drawings where I evidence the endless chains that join an object or a human being to the other, just to form an endless net that flows through the universe.
Not only in the drawings, anyway, but even in all my work you can get this influence of olistic thought. Think for example about the installations where I use electric circuits to represent this energy that flows in all around us, or about the videos where the images often are confused and


What are the principal subjects that you investigate?

The main theme is the marvellous and surprisingly complexity of the universe and of the human being (that it is a part of the universe), with all the related similarities that emerge when we look beyond the surface of things and of the appearances on which we base our perception. This subject is then inflects in a different way according to the medium I use to express it: video, drawing, painting, installation, and recently, photography (that derives from my work in videoart and that, lately, sometimes suggest me ideas to develop in my videos).


You use a lot of expressive media, in practice all those defined “classical” in contemporary art, from drawing to video, to installation and performance.
How can you combine them? Do you have a favorite medium?

That’s totally truth: I begin from drawing to come to installation (that includes sculpture, not in itself but as a part of it), and I continue with the performance and the video then I come back to drawing and from that I restart constantly in my research, again with video, photography, installation and painting.
Another time the unitary vision may influence me.
I thought that it is very important for an artist to compare with various form of art and to use technics, material, media totally different: working in this way according to me it is fundamental (together with stable research, the in-depth analysis and the observation, from different points of view, on what is around us) to have a wide artistic and expressive vision and to succeed in showing all the complexity of the world.
It is difficult for prefer one medium to other: at one hand because each of them let underlines some aspects and on the other hand because of with every one I get my bearing with all of them.
I consider that the artist never has limits in researching and expressiveness. The wider is the selection of media with whom we can express and the estender is our vision as an artist, consequently the vaster become our work.
Recently thanks to video art, as I said before, I approach photography. But at the same time I go on with drawing, with bi-dimensional works.
According to me all together make a complete work of art.


In your videos, often characterized by delicate overlappings images, you use a lot of words, a voice-over that is reading a text. Where do you find out these tales? What about they tell? 

Yes, in my videos I often use texts, poems and pieces just to associate with the specified message of the video. They are works of philosopher or essays that I admire for their papers, as Laozi, Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Grigol Robakidze, Rabindranath Tagore….
sometimes I use my texts.

They add various messages, related to the subject that I develop in the video. For example, I can
quote one of the text that I love most. It is a poem by Rumi: I have used this text for my recent video that I turned in Luxembourg at the MUDAM, the Museum of Contemporary Art (that I thank to give me that possibility). The title is: “Do not go back to sleep”:


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.


In the video “ Counting the infinite”, that I have presented in the Venice Biennal, I had used a text by my hands.


How born one of your project in Art?

It is dipend, sometimes I have a clear idea about what I would like to achieve in all its minimal details, othertimes, on the contrary, I have a sort of initial intuition that enhances, it evolves and defines during the process of working. At time I just begin to work and, what I believe very important in the process, the ideas come free, without any concentration, as a flow.
With the installations, on the contrary, I often have a clear and exact vision of the work already done. I have to materialy achieve. I pay a great attention to details: I think that they have a great importance in every work of art. I work strong even on the equilibrium of the works. It is very important to manage the “golden midlle” in my work. I use natural structures that I contrast / associate in a balanced way with artificial structures, the support of my installations is always a
surface extremely smooth (generally in wood) that I prepare, polish and paint with a great deal of
colour coats, polished and polished to aim to the most homogeneus surface, often dark (but “a black that is light, as dear departed gallerist and critic Giovanni Salzano always said) to let drawings, objects and sculptures that I use in the installations to stand out in the best evidence and precision.

For videos and photography the process is particular. I fell as the world around me is a big and continuos video and a inexhaustible source of images. Since I have always with me my camera,
I am always be able to catch a circustamces to make a video or to shot a photo, and then I let them go in space and in time of eternity.

Sometimes I sit down and it is like if I am watching a very beautiful film, but lively. I will be able to rest longtime and contemplate it… it is like a projection around me in real life.

My videos are without special effects, with the exception of — sometimes — slow motion, used to better  underline every instants of time. On the other hand I prefer work on research of images instead of farther effects.


Which evolution your research had these latest years?

My research has developed and is going to enhance in different directions and every of them help me to grow with the others. My drawings help me to work up my installations and then the paintings (that I prefer to call bi-dimensional-works, for their peculiarity within a traditional “painting”). Photos  help to make video and vice versa. In a word it is a uniform process where the development of a part contribute to other one development: a global and unitary process towards the evolution of my work in art.
In drawings and in my bi-dimensional works I try to work on minimal details and to combine to enormous objects.
In the installation I follow the similar process.
Now I am working on projects about great installations in public space/museum just to give to people the possibility to try unexpected sensations and out of common experience: they will involve an initial confusion and a meditation on unexpected similarities in our universe, placing and observing reality from a different point of view and in absolute freedom.
I do not love restrictions. I think that human being generally are inclined to limit themselves: but we have to constantly remember to let open all the possibilites and do not fear in researching and about the surprisingly situations that we will discover. According to me the artist, to be complet, never be limited, never be afraid of experimenting new ways, far from fashion, but he have to let free the imagination as much as possible, looking for enter deep inside himself and in the reality that is around him.


Photo credits:
Irina Gabiani

1 | Untitled, 2004, Acrylic, digital images on MDF, 73 x 130 and 12 x 130 cm
2 | The dance of life, 2006, Acrylic, digital images on MDF, Triptych, 46 x 100 cm each
3 | The slaves of the system, 2005, photocopy, acrylic on panel, 76 x 130 cm
4 | Frame from the video “One common father”, © 2010 Irina Gabiani
5 | Frame from the video “Counting the infinite”, © 2011 Irina Gabiani
6 | Frame from the video “Beyond the form”, 2012 © Irina Gabiani
7 | Frame from the video “Exquisite form”, 2013 © Irina Gabiani
8 | Frame from the video “It lasts forever”, 2013, © Irina Gabiani
9 | Frame from the video “Part of the whole”, 2013 © Irina Gabiani
10 | Frame from the video “The truth is there”, 2012 © Irina Gabiani
11 | Frame from the video “World as yourself”, 2013 © Irina Gabiani
12 | Frame from the video “Whispering for freedom”, 2014 © Irina Gabiani

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