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Boyan | Arthur

December 01, 2023 - January 20, 2024

Solo Show: Boyan

Vicious Circle
And I repeat,
A world that eats the inedible, again and again, day and night,
To realize its meanness -
At this point,
Can only
Shut its mouth.
(Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh - the Man Suicided by Society)

As always with Boyan, painting is personal. Personal in the most concrete sense, like a
butt of a squashed and tossed-away Marlboro cigarette. Personal in the most specific
way, as a reflection of his physical, mental, and emotional – one can say human -
condition in a figure and a scene: in a story. Personal (in an all-encompassing and
lonely sense), in that whatever he wants to say he paints (and nothing else). And finally,
personal in that unless it is so, there is no point to things, particularly in art.
Two years after his return to the burden of existence in Israel and almost a year into the
Messianic, nationalistic, racist delusion, and institutional lawlessness, this might be
Boyan’s most personal and political exhibition so far.

Fear Precedes Existence
Personally, we are tossed into existence and out of it. Forcibly. Always arriving late for
what is already there, always early leaving what will continue to exist after we are gone.
Submerged in the hustle of everyday life, surrounded by people who light up the
darkness of our loneliness. In between, in the brief time available to us, we are
compelled to act against powers and systems larger and stronger than ourselves.
Ancient than us. Compelled to be (super) heroes, or, at the least, the heroes of our lives
. We struggle and stumble, overcome, fall and rise again. Searching for company and
recognition. Seeking our place. Wishing our lives and actions will encounter others, be
liked and accepted, bring joy. ‘Hoping our death will not be more meaningful than our
lives.’ For existence precedes essence.

Yet for over a hundred years, our lives and actions have occurred under the auspices of
a bureaucratic bourgeoisie that regulates the comfortable, decent life worthy of display
and praise. Sheltering under the aegis of a hedonistic, decadent, bourgeois
bureaucracy , which looks indifferently at violence behind glass, sanctifies and takes
pleasure at promiscuity and horrors under the shadow of the Cross and morality
(religion). Not for nothing has Artaud pointedly identified the “anatomic logic of modern
man, who has never been able to live or think he is living, but as being governed.”1
As Nature reflects the power of reason, so does the human environment reflects the
forces of the drives and passions. The forces of repetitiveness, habits, and life’s futility
The power of an arrested action in an image and figure. Such are Boyan’s heroes,
fighting demons, bearing profound pain, wrapped in dark haloes like anonymous
warriors in the background, running up and against the current. Heroes for whom fear
precedes existence. For whom the fractures – the cuts between the images they post
online – are present and painful and seek healing.

The transparent glass (‘the modernist material’)’ which allows us and the world to be
‘authentic images’ – those that may be alternately justified and denied, which, in the
end, undermine the very sense of existence – is replaced by faces, flesh, bodies, which
have taken it upon themselves to be the masks they are. A merging of laughter and
dread, despair and hope, pleasure and pain, involvement and indifference. It is
theatricality that turns into literality, becomes a substrate for direct, honest, personal
(painterly) action. Such that distinguishes between the facts of life and the idea of
existence. Such that seeks contact and resolution. Without losing its style. Like rising to
the street level for a deviant, violent, rule-breaking action. For the sake of change and
release as a lifestyle.
Pathos and Being Pathetic
1 Ibid.

In other, not-so-distant days, Boyan has positioned the painterly realm as a living space
for his figures. Theatrical, cinematic spaces. Worlds built out of fantasy, rich in bold
colors and captivating, eye-catching details. Worlds full of passions and drives,
violence, and dark cultural pleasure. Painting that holds on to turbulent youthful spirits,
in order to awaken the power of imagination. Since, at the foundation of life – that is, at
the heart of Boyan’s painting – lies action: the source of comfort and hope. A movement
that captures time and converts it into space. A movement that fixes action in its
potential – fateful – state to change worlds. Action and movement are the hallmarks of
storytellers, and Boyan’s stories are among the distinct, twisted, and juicy ones.
Painfully human, exact to the point of being judgmental.

Today, it appears that Boyan’s paintings seek to reduce the mythical into everyday life.
When the mentally powerful individual has turned into a CEO and entrepreneur (social,
of course), when life has become a storyboard, resolution is found in repetition,
insistence, perseverance. In face of the naked cruelty of our times, the background
detouches and recedes, staying behind at the bottom of the stairs that ascend from the
tunnels of the soul. The detail becomes abstract, the color muddy, the style plain and
unsophisticated, yet present, like graffiti on the wall, like frozen motion, like a repeating
frame. Like the restrained force of rage in the body. Like an action unafraid of mistakes.
Like a repeating motif of a theme that has despaired and abandoned its topic. Until, in
the end, there is only the hero. The hero and his messenger, the hero as he walks, the
hero – like a figure in a political poster, full of promises and devoid of content –
anchored to the ground with the weight of his carelessness, carrying a flicker of hope in
his forelock and gaze. In the face of the abjectness and crude taste that chain people to
a life of struggle and survival (as a poisonous pleasure), only the forces of attraction and
life of the painting are left: the power to put on makeup, tell a story, and awaken the soul
to greatness.

As always, Boyan’s art locks us up in the arena of the existential struggle between
existence and meaning, drive and creation. And as always, it awakens the tension and
anxiety that accompany the encounter between the personal and the social, the
reverberation between the image and the figure, lust and endeavor. However, this time,
it appears the painting focuses on the point where, at times, everything loses its grip on
reality; everything is (mis-)understood, (too) general. This time, it seems that Boyan’s
painting accompanies Man in his existential struggle against the institutions themselves,
the ones responsible for the social and cultural regulatory mechanisms. In human’s
struggle for existence as a human being. In the struggle of art to be passionate, and of a
gesture to be intimate. To move. This time, the painting seems to be positioned at the
lowest, most painful, most indifferent point of painting/human existence. In the visceral
point of view of the surface, vis-à-vis the directness and necessity of the impression.
And yet, driven by the same passion for a life of enjoyment, still focusing on the tortured
soul seeking evidence of its existence, Boyan’s painting reminds us of the vicious circle
of the (creative) action, trapped between pathos and being pathetic, this is the time to
put on a show – to demonstrate – in the name of the magnificent and beautiful theater
of human life that culture can offer us.
This is not a consoling space. Not now.
These are paintings of a bitter awakening, toughening persistence, compounding effect
– of (ever repeating) resolution: being Arthur.

Menahem Goldenberg, October 2023


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