“In the light of neon” – exhibition of a Norwegian artist in Tbilisi

“The only way to avoid war is to be creative, existential and cultural and change the world through art.”

In the National Gallery of Georgia. Dmitry Shevardnadze opened an exhibition of the Norwegian artist Per Hess. The exhibition features neon tubes assembled into various shapes. Each one hides a special meaning.

Politics, philosophy, ecology, love – things that you can talk about forever, but Hess uses neon light instead of words, and darkness instead of paper. This is how a small room in the National Gallery turned into a library of statements by a Norwegian visual artist.

The 77-year-old author of the exhibition began his artistic journey from painting school. He was always interested in unusual styles: abstractionism and expressionism. Hes picked up neon tubes instead of brushes not long ago. In 2013,

the artist took part in the Vienna Biennale with an experimental exhibition, where he realized what his calling was.

After a long collaboration with the National Gallery of Georgia, Per Hess accepted the invitation and came to Tbilisi.

“When I came in 1989, there were problems with Abkhazia and Ossetia. Then I thought that Norway could do more for Georgia. And when this exhibition appeared, it seemed to me that this would be a good chance to talk about it. I think it is important for Norway to make this connection stronger, we must strengthen it. Both countries are small and under the influence of larger countries, and we must stick together to maintain our uniqueness. We have something to say to each other.”

Per Hess believes that “In the Light of Neon” can be shown in many countries, but for Georgia his work is of particular importance, since light, the central object of the exhibition, affects our spiritual state. In the East, the spiritual component is more important than in the West, he believes. The West is more materialistic, spirituality is important, but it is not for everyone.

“Georgia is a good place with a lot of talented people, so I think it has potential and the world will see how good it is.”

The exhibition “In the Light of Neon” is located on the first floor of the gallery.

It will be open until October 29. The small room houses 11 exhibits. 10 of them are made using neon art technique. The lighting is the exhibits themselves, which fill the space with different colors, immersing you in an atmosphere of reflection on the meanings.

And only the work called “Apocalypse” was created using daguerreotype – the first method of photography in history. Four simple wooden frames hold silver plates with images of warheads, a military aircraft and children suffering from the horrors of war.

“I chose daguerreotype for this work because it is also done with light. This was the first way in history to produce a photograph using light. And when daguerreotype came into use, they began to use it in the war, for news from the war. For most people, this was the beginning of an understanding of what war really is. Although everyone used to think that war was heroism. I chose this footage because it’s happening right now. Right today: in Ukraine, and in Syria, and in Libya. Every war is terrible.”

According to the artist, because of the war, every EU country today produces more weapons, high-precision, super-strong, etc. “This is done to maintain a balance of weapons, as if this is keeping countries from wars.

As if many weapons = peace. In fact, this doesn’t last long. In the end there will be war again because you have weapons.”