Institute of Fine Art - New York University, 1993
THAT LIGHT BIRD CALLED THE SOUL
A Journey Through the Art of Neno Todoroff
I have a quantity of photographs scattered on my working desk of paintings I have never seen before, created by some artist I am not really familiar with. Attempting to find a pattern to get them sorted out makes a bigger mess than the initial one, so I let them do the job themselves. That’s exactly what they do: a sudden gust of wind that trying to whisper in my ear something I cannot comprehend; groups and regroups them together in various shapes and formations quite slowly until they begin to resemble а flotilla of sails racing before the violent chase of the trade winds.
Something makes me look up to stare the sky right above my head. I hate getting myself a stiff neck therefore I lie me down in the grass face up. Now the sky is no more the arched dome we know but a giant blue screen that I am looking upon for some reason unknown from above as if I was floating above an endless ocean-sea. Cirrus clouds of sparkling white hurdle disperse and rearrange then put together again to form a funnel resembling an azure draw-well where I throwing myself in with the burst of joy of a peregrine falcon to start my skydive into some friendly beckoning Maelstrom that retraces to the origin of everything. Who is in fact that enraptured jumper into the booming surf of boundlessness? Could be not just me but some incorporeal essence of myself; my immortal soul maybe?
Pulled back by the rubber cord of existence by which I am still attached to that rock floating through the ether of the unknown we usually call reality, I turn back to the scattered images plastering my desk. They look like various things to me. Some of those have got names others somehow had their names lost in time; some have never had because they missed having been named in the first place. The latter probably originate from that primordial still fluid phase of Creation when things still marked by inconclusiveness were wandering around until they met their name with which to bond forming an entity and a stable image. Whenever the opposite occurs, when the bond gets severed and the name sails away into the waters of eternity, then thing revert back to their blurred existence until they would link up with a new name of them. That’s why, probably, there is a constant conflict simmering in the depths of our senses between physical sceneries and ephemeral vistas, images of the tangible trivial round or the luring fata morgana of innumerable situations somehow familiar without having been experienced. What is this after all? Is it the non-empirical memory about that very substance able to turn the un-living to alive, beauty to eternity, fragility to indestructibility?
A substantial part of the compositions of Neno Todoroff are merged by one specific feature of those: they definitely are not the images that can satisfy our urge for the concrete. They rather come close to energy-fields-fed apparitions; unstable subatomic structures existing for a fraction because temporary laws of unknown time-space dimensions; deceitful optic shapes generated not by experience but by the constancy of eternity.
Spiders are weaving the curtains inside the great halls of palaces long lost in the desert. Through the blending reddish shroud of the scorching ghibli wind one can perceive the shadows of the lost army of 50 thousand send by the Persian king Cambyses to conquer Siwa with the Temple of Amun and its renowned oracle. Somewhere caught within the thick air between the sunset and the glowing sand-dunes hangs the mythical white city from the vanished oasis of small birds and spreads the spell of its magic name – Zerzura.
Then the images from the photographs form another group. Their coloring is more intense, sonic, dense. They turn into contemplation, into uncertainty, into a kaleidoscope of the senses like crystals blossoming under the gamma-rays, like the flap of grisly pteranodon wings under the purple glare of several moons. A tiny drop of water trickles down the palm of my hand. It has collected the glimmer of every color like a bead of opal. In its hurry to flow out it turns in to steam then into a torrent. Then it branches out and starts thinning again until they get sucked in invisible clefts. Now I turn around and behold that same drop of water (that’s what I think) oozing out from the sharp end of a green elm tree leaf.
Suddenly, landscapes materialize among the out-of-space topography of insight. Houses roofs yards. But they have the look and feel of the last sigh of their final instant as is reliving again and again in an everlasting succession the last day of doomed Pompeii. After that the tectonic slabs of time get moving again and mountains become prehistoric sea bottoms where sluggish Devonian trilobites and sea-scorpions crawl. They, on their part in an instance of a million eons experience a transformation of intelligent trigonometry of mobile multicolored prisms enabled to create the glyphs, symbols and letters of the framework of knowledge flowing out of the ideal crystal spheres of its inaccessible immateriality. As immortal as all what has never been materialized because it is older than creation itself.
The photographic pictures have finally been sorted out. The last image seems to be a self-portrait. Or maybe a part of a self-portrait; lacking a backdrop, with no stage-setting, no logical center of composition, even without genuine portrait features. But possessing the presence, fixture, with a striking feeling of individuality; having the look of enlightenment for the knowledge about things reaching beyond themselves. That depicted person makes me imagine him as a wise sheriff who has the privilege of contemplating every other carmine sunset over the sands of eternity. This is an ageless and nameless person; someone whom I know without having met. The one who is as free as the poet who wrote these verses:
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out of our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
CROSSING THE BAR
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON 1889