For the exhibition “Multiverse”by Simon Shemov
Ana Frangovska, senior curator
“All the time is now”, says the poet and essayist A.D. Hope, fully aware of the complexity woven into poetic imagination, amplified with ideas of the past and the future from the vantage point of the unattainable present. Eternity is the paradox. Eternity isn’t a physical location, but a mental state in which every second in history is contemplated, as if it’s happening right now. This is true regardless of whether one’s contemplating ancient philosophy at this very minute or perhaps some future possibility based on an intuition experienced at that particular moment, or whether one simply gazes at a star whose light has originated in the past and due to the discourse of time and space, it is visible to us right now, which underestimates the questions about the boundlessness of space in the universe, time, light…
This overture serves to augment the powerful reflection of the decades long artistic production that despite the new “empiricism”, has carried the burden of last year’s experience for more than half a century, with the ontology and anthological significance of a rich artistic credo. The subject of interest here is the latest creative cycle of maestro Simon Shemov, titled “Multiverse”, which mainly deals with the aspects of cosmology and cosmogony, specifically the questions surrounding the emergence and existence of the cosmos and universe and of course, using this general phenomenological semantics, and the specific humanistic existential nature of human beings, the quest towards extracting the special from the general and vice versa, through the subjective and singular towards the boundless.
Thus far, many things have been said and written about the artistic endeavours, interests and significance of this amazing visual explorer, and very recently with the aim to provide a fitting presentation of the exhibition “Multiverse”, my colleague Sonja Abadzieva gave an exhaustive and hermeneutically detailed essay in which she reminisced about the most momentous focal points in the creative development of this remarkable artist, chronologically traversing his earlier works with his latest pieces.
Pondering my approach as to how to go about analysing this exhibition, simultaneously wishing to avoid any sort of repetition, I decided to focus on four phenomenological aspects that are analogous to his recurring interests through the chronological matrix and appear as threads of discourse throughout his entire artistic opus (from the very beginnings in the mid 60s until today). These inspiring aspects are mutually very much connected and dependent, in other words they are logically correlated and are extremely important experiences that have also defined his latest opus. It concerns his interest and natural indoctrination with pantheism, and consequently and quite logically is followed by fascination with questions about the origin and existence of the universe, and subsequently cosmology/cosmogony as key benchmarks ad acta, then the aspects of the connection between art and the nature of play (i.e. the eternal thirst for exploration, experimentation, animation of self and the audience – with a certain degree of participative direct or indirect input) and semiotics and his passion with exploring and transforming symbols and archetypes.
The magical appeal of nature
In his book of lithographs “Art forms in nature”, Ernst Haeckel , wrote: “From my earliest childhood days, I was enchanted by the formal beauty of living beings. Nature generates in her lap an inexhaustible abundance of wonderful forms, whose beauty and diversity surpass by far all art forms produced by man”.
Pantheism and human attraction to beauty share a close bond. Perhaps the thing that inspires awe and deference in us when it comes to the cosmos is our perception of the enormous beauty of nature and diversity, the complexity and mutual connection of that beauty. It is entirely possible that the splendour of sunsets and mountain tops gently kissed by feathery clouds is precisely what rouses a proclivity in most people to believe in the superiority and wisdom of their gods. However, the theology of theism brings about redirection of focus and emotions from nature itself to an apparent invisible creator who is behind it all. The people who hold a pantheistic worldview are less inclined to see the natural world as a reflection of a higher power and more likely to appreciate it for what it is: a collective creation that demands our admiration. Scientists and other naturalistic pantheists may be mystified by the emergence of that powerful feeling of connection. Human beings are inherently prone to nurture the natural environment because they have grown and evolved in it. The term “biophilia” coined by the American naturalist E.O. Wilson refers to “innate tendency of people to seek connections with nature and other forms of life, and according to Erich Fromm, man has biological temperament for biophilia, which is his “primary potentiality”.
 Fromm, E. (1973). The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. New York: Fawcett Crest, 407.