Born in the mountains of Georgia, 19th century poet Vazha Pshavela is known for his evocative descriptions of nature. Saturated with the riches of his native tongue, Vazha’s narrative poetry holds a natural attraction for Georgian artist Lika Sharashidze, who spends her free time translating verse after verse of the writer’s semi-forgotten work.
Working as a translator, journalist, and artist, Lika gravitates toward metaphysical verse and imagery, searching for higher meaning in human moments. Her ongoing series, A Fractal Reality, takes a lo-fi approach to illustration, borrowing the crude graphics of pre-digital ‘70s and ‘80s animation to create genuinely moving portraits. “The best way to describe my work is to say it reflects the endlessness of the human subconscious and the eternity of earthly energy,” Lika writes in her artist statement. “All of this makes us one."
On her blog, Lika combines crystalline illustrations from A Fractal Reality with translations of Vazha’s prose and short stories. Paired with the poet’s unorthodox perspective on nature, Lika’s work comes to life, as delicate and ephemeral as the purple flower in Vazha’s famous “Populus”:
Oh, how pitiful is the violet,
That came to be on mountains!
Wretched, always harmed by cold,
Or stricken by lightning, on its top;
God gave the pitiful,
A short lifespan,
In this realm, for its loveliness,
A mere second of existence, is the plan,
When violet starts to wilt,
“Oh!” to God, it will weep:
“Why was I given life, O’Lord,
If a short stay was my reward?”
Alongside her translation, Lika draws a distinction between Vazha and other Romantic poets like Lord Byron and Wordsworth, who saw the natural world as a stand-in for divine power: storms, shipwrecks, and the mysterious light of dusk were common spectacles. In “Populus,” Vazha instead imagines the flower as human, a slave to existential angst, a poor soul begging for transcendental release. “The central character, a small violet, is completely devoid of divine nature,” Lika muses. “It is not equal to a god, and it does not exist for human pleasure. Having a mission of its own, [the flower] is very similar to us.”
All photos published with permission of the artist(s); photo credit: Natia Gelantia.
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