ALEXANDRE NAJJAR Counselor at the Ministry of Culture, member of the UNESCO cultural commission in Beirut, Lebanon.
One does not leave an exhibition of Raffi Tokatlian's sculptures unscathed. His works engrave themselves on the spirit, leaving an indelible stamp on the soul. Sometimes, they can even be "disturbing", in the sense that Braque gave the world when he claimed that “Art is meant to disturb”. All things considered, however, Tokatlian’s world-with his fantastic visions and tormented bodies being reminiscent of the world of Gibran; his frightening creatures, hybrids, evoking those in the works of Jerome Bosch- is in no way oppressive. His sculptures have a fluid, ethereal quality that escape the substance from which they emanate. They are a hymn to life, symbolized by the primordial or comic egg, by the primal shell; they are a return to genesis both in the sense of origin and of birth. They are also a hymn to woman, both lover and mother. And when they represent the human body, they reveal, without expressing these emotions violently, a combination of passion, energy, and sensuality.
Resolutely anchored in modernity, abounding with allegorical and mythological symbols, Tokatlian’s works are an invitation to reflect on our destiny while enchanting us with their harmony. We sense the quest for movement, the concern for self-expression, and the desire to capture every shiver of life such talent leaves one speechless with admiration.