/, Gallery, Blesok no. 151/ALL THE TIME IS NOW


Semiotics: signs and archetypes as iconic representations through time and space

Carl Gustav Jung claims that archetypes are not immediately apparent to the conscious mind: “they evidently live and function in the deeper more profound layers of the unconscious, particularly in that phylogenetic substratum which I have called collective unconscious. This localisation explains a good deal of their peculiarity: they bring into our ephemeral consciousness an unfamiliar psychological life that belongs in the distant past. This is the mind of our unknown ancestors, how they thought, lived and felt, how they had experienced life and the world beyond, the Gods and people”.[11]

In this quote alone by Jung, the genesis of Shemov’s interest in semiotics and its relevance in terms of space and time, emblems and mystics throughout history is apparent. Its uniqueness, timelessness and complexity. Its potency!

Pablo Picasso once stated: there are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun”.[12]

The philosopher Paul Tillich argues that an image becomes a symbol because it appeals to the unconscious part of our being. Symbols gain their power because they give expression to the feelings that hold together a human group and thus “symbols cannot be produced intentionally”.[13] In this sense, they are like totems, representing the inner spirit or “collective essence,” the bond that holds a social group together.[14] The most powerful symbols, such as those associated with religions, attract many people and over a long history.

“Symbols … are like living beings, they grow and they die”.[15] But they are also recreated. The “myth” surrounding the symbols is oftentimes revived, particularly if they pertain to representations and archetypes that have a perpetual meaning and energy, in the context of pantheistic religion, as well as in the context of the universe, tradition and history. So too does Shemov revive them, recurrently, he transforms them, rearranges them with his playful tactics and places them in the same or a completely new context, recounting about the general, but also about self, the cosmos and the universe, but also about his own universe – the sun, feminine principles and fertility, life energies.

The iconic representations are symbols that reconnect again to the more profound and wider aspects of our human nature and natural world. Underneath these cultural splits, the archetypal imagination seeks, through affectively charged images, to connect us to the flow of energy that is the heart and hum of the cosmos.[16] “As we bear the same energy that animates the cosmos, Shemov uses the archetypal imagination as a constitutive ordering power that amplifies the meaning. This “transcendent function” as referred to by Jung, not only connects us to ourselves, linking the conscious world with the unconscious through somatic symptoms, affect, vision and images of dreams, but it also connects us to a higher reality through the symbolic powers”.[17]

The symbols reinterpreted by Shemov in his opus overwhelm us with a feeling of a sense of diachronic time, traversing the advanced moment of history. Eliade extensively explores this thought in his discussion about the “eternal return”.[18]

The quest for the underlying truth is both present in art and in science, the mixed order. Both art and science, to varying degrees, use images – representations that evolve from the unconscious as an important signpost, which points to the implicative order based on which they search. Artists are perhaps more versed in the phase of disorder that embodies that quest and are perhaps more apprehensive in the use of iconic images as long-term guides. But artists like Simon Shemov, can always provide a visual response – a sign, whereas scientists cannot always comfortably and freely use representation as opposed to words. Nonetheless, archetypal representations are an excellent way to reconcile science and art. 

Shemov paints his signs on canvas, he draws them on paper or he carves them in/on cardboard, transforming them into unbound two dimensional forms, with a tendency to become objects and find their space, including a fictitious third dimension through space, light – shadow, a distance from the substrate. Some of these are natural reliefs with a highlighted decorative association with concentrated solar energies and particles.

A word or two more about visual semantics

The visual mythology of “From Singularity to a Universe” is predominantly abstract (geometrically and lyrically) and archetypal. Shemov plays with a variety of mediums and applies various techniques, particularly using the handmade paper which has its own texture and structure. Lines, colours, traces of the medium determine the motifs of the cosmos which essentially instigate the discussion. Here is where the dynamic action takes place, preceded or succeeded by an action. Radiations, diffractions, reflections, extensions, rotations, lightning fast movements, magmas, gasses, thick matter, celestial bodies are all just part of Shemov’s individual artistic galaxy that he effortlessly presents, playfully with a distinct clarity and thoughtfulness. The pieces are distinctly individual, but also part of compositions that capture the observer’s eye with their atypical dimensions, shapes and arrangement. The artist not only paints, he glues, cuts, sews, fastens, makes collages and literally plays with all available means with the aim to capture the diversity of the universe and varying possibilities in which “reality” can be represented.

But does reality really exist, and is there a moment here and now where we find ourselves in this galimatias?

[11] Jung, C. G. The archetypes and the collective unconscious: collected works of C.G. Jung. Volume 9, Part 1. Bollingen Series. New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1959/1969. 286-287.

[12] <http://www.>

[13] Tillich, P. The dynamics of faith. New York: Harper & Row, 1957. 74.

[14] Durkheim, E. The elementary forms of the religious life. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001 (1912).

[15] Tillich. The dynamics of faith. 74.

[16] Hollis, J. The archtypal imagination. Texas, USA: Texas A&M Press, College Station, 2000. 15.

[17] Ibid. 15.

[18] Eliade, M. The myth of the eternal return: cosmos and history. New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1971.

AuthorAna Frangovska
2023-10-01T12:01:18+00:00 September 9th, 2023|Categories: Exhibition, Gallery, Blesok no. 151|Comments Off on ALL THE TIME IS NOW