In Leila Shelia's artwork, one can discern distinct elements of separation, irreversibility, and irrationality. These elements emanate primarily from the powerful feminine characteristics that stand in contrast to more traditional masculine traits that are often to be found in Georgian art. This contrast is not aggressive, but rather transgressive in nature. The central theme revolves around an unending diary that is crafted with feminine sensibility and intuitive impulses. In the diary, the pages are in the form of painterly canvases, which serve as a unique testament for breaking free from the rigid constraints of the largely male-dominated Georgian art scene.
Karlo Grigolia, a reformer of Georgian sculpture and significant figure in Georgian art history, has only recently been recognized by Georgian society. Three exhibitions featuring his artistic legacy were organized between 2019 and 2023. Among them, the D. Shevardnadze National Gallery of Georgia held Karlo Grigolia's first retrospective exhibition “Forbidden Art” in March 2023, curated by G. Grigolia, and co-cureted by M. Chikvaidze.
The emergence of landscape painting as a distinct genre within Georgian fine art can be attributed to the period of Georgian painting that dates back to the 1910s and 1920s. At that time, the landscape evolved into a fully developed artistic phenomenon, which gave rise to the fundamental characteristics of Georgian easel painting. It became a central theme among the artists of that period, and was actively employed by nearly every representative of the new generation.
Archeological excavations in Armaziskhevi unearthed numerous artifacts of significant importance characterized by high aesthetic and technical quality that shed light on the art of silversmiths in pre-Christian Kartli (a Kingdom in Eastern Georgia). The silver and golden objects found in the necropolis of local governors (pitiakhshs) bear witness to active cultural exchange between Kartli and various countries of the East and West (e. g. Iran, Rome, etc.). Silver and golden objects have both material and aesthetic value. Due to its physical and technical properties, silver has been highly valued since antiquity. This precious metal was widely used for vessels, tableware, jewelry, and furniture decoration. Excavated artifacts from Armaziskhevi, dating from the first to third centuries CE, once belonging to the local aristocracy demonstrate their luxurious lifestyle and wealth.
Liturgical vessels and implements, such as chalices, liturgical fans - rhipidia, censers, are inseparable parts of the church Services. These precious metal objects decorated with religious imagery were produced in huge numbers over the centuries in medieval Georgia, but very few of them have preserved.
Secular portraiture in Medieval Georgia developed in close connection with religious art. The creation of “portraits” was connected with the ongoing socio-political processes in the country, particularly with the strengthening of feudal society. As in Byzantium, images of feudal lords appeared in church art in the 6th – 7th cc. Insertion of the figures of laymen into the decoration programs of the churches and stone cross pillars aimed to demonstrate their power and place in the feudal hierarchy.
During the Soviet era (1930-1950s), the landscape genre played an essential role in Georgian easel painting, since the specifics of the genre offered creators the opportunity to act freely. During this period, for many painters the landscape provided the solution, while for others it was an intuitive “move” whereby the painting skills of an artist could be freely revealed - the style of execution became much more natural and realistic, while the choice of theme or motif was unrestricted, honest and non-violent
Felix Varlamishvili (aka Varla) was born in 1903 in Kutaisi. He graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts (1922-27) and in 1928 left Georgia, arriving in Paris in 1929. Between 1948 and 1952 he lived in Buenos Aires and died in Paris in 1986.
A year after having begun working for the railroad, he addressed the head of the transportation department with a request to find him a place to live in Elisavetpolis. However, this request was the second in a row after having previously asked the administration to relocate him to Tbilisi where his elderly parents lived, so that he could receive his inheritance.
In the 1940s, archaeologists discovered the necropolis of the Pitiakhshs, rulers of Iberia (eastern Georgia) in Armazi, which was part of the ancient Georgian capital, Mtskheta. The graves of the ruling aristocracy were distinguished by numerous precious objects, including various types of jewelry: necklaces, rings, earrings, buckles golden clothes adornments. The discovered objects are striking for their sophisticated technical and aesthetic qualities, indicating the highly-developed tradition of goldsmithery in eastern Georgia during the first centuries CE.
In 1965, an album of Vera Pagava’s sketches that included small-scale pencil drawings was published in Paris. Therein, by use of dots drawn with a tip of a graphite pencil, the artist presents the entire richness of nature. Through application of the simplest materials, she not only designs shapes that are perceived by the eye, but also makes us sense their dynamism, movement, and even hear the rustle of the leaves. And while contemplating these minimalistic graphic compositions, we can feel the light that is distributed throughout the space.
Pirosmani: Here is Georgia’s most famous artist. His biography is vague; the accuracy of the dates is difficult to define. History has preserved just three of his photos, and maybe even a couple of others that are disputed but plausible. However even these three images are subject to controversy.
Georgian metalwork of the Middle Ages is an important phenomenon in the history of art. The ancient local tradition of goldsmith and silversmith has continued throughout the Christian era. Georgian masters produced a wide range of church artifacts: crosses, icons, book-covers, liturgical implements. For their creations, the Georgian masters mainly used silver, which was frequently plated with gold. Some non-ecclesiastical silver vessels from the 12th–13th century have also been preserved along with the precious metal object of church art.
The Knight in the Panther's Skin — Artist's Book, featuring artworks by fifteen contemporary Georgian artists, was published back in 2015 and presented at the National Gallery in concurrence with an exhibition of the same works, which are now an official part of the Gallery’s permanent collection.
Nino Kipshidze’s artworks capture the eye with their extraordinary subtlety, resulting from the artist’s ability to channel the full pictorial potential of the fabrics used and add a peculiar touch of expressiveness to textile as a medium. Both figurative and abstract compositions follow the principles of easel painting, where appliqués and scraps of various textured and colored fabric resemble brush strokes against the velvet, silk or linen backgrounds. However, the ultimate source of this rush of emotion lies in the harmonious balance between the decorative tectonics of textile and the pictorial expressions of landscapes, still lives and figurative compositions.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, when fine art declared a battle against physical representations of the material world and the figurative image “vanished" from the art world for almost half a century, the line of artistic development was decisively shifted. In the 1960s, material origins returned auspiciously to art, but nonetheless having acquired new features or, to put it literally: materiality, the new figurative style or novelty formation and its widespread conceptualization.
The Last Supper by Giorgi Kobiashvili is symptomatic of this epoch. In the picture, electronic information in the form of a neon wire, similar to the graphic line of a cardiogram, is directly incorporated into the structure of the composition, and the history of iconography gives way to iconological interpretations. The easily recognizable iconographic model developed by Christian art has been rendered as a mere scheme.
Edmond Kalandadze was one of the forerunners of these new art trends in Georgia. Mastering the techniques of Pompeian frescoes, and Renaissance and European painting, greatly contributed to the formation of the young artist’s pictorial language.
The window is a standard feature of his compositions, not only of this one. In general, the window theme has a conceptual significance in his painting. The world seen from a window is associated with different moments from his biography, with landscapes, moving people or animals, and various items placed on the windowsill. They seem to function as memory repositories, and hold determinate stories.
Koka Tskhvediani: "painting for me is not subject to explanations. It has a strong spontaneous energy, which was characteristic of the Abstract Expressionists; although today abstraction has acquired other meanings. My career as an artist began in the 1990s, during the crisis period of post-Soviet Georgia.
Merab Surviladze loves producing contrasts in scales, perspectives, textures and volumes. This time the contrast is more ironic than in his other earlier works because the image of the well-known brand, whose laconic and colorful logo should radiate only positivity – giving the impression that life is enjoyable and creating a sense of stability – here appears "suspicious" and resembles a field of chaotic movements.
The notion of locality is instrumental, since the piece is rooted in the context of the city of Tbilisi as a place inhabited by people whose lives are directly impacted and molded by changes in their surroundings that are brought on over time and informed by social, economic, and political factors. The site chosen for the piece echoes the continuous transformation the city has undergone resulting from the transient demands of society and commerce.
Levan Mindiashvili is a Georgian artist currently residing in New York. In his artistic research, existential issues are constantly related to specific locations, the peculiarities of cities, the language of architectural textures, and forms of self-expression among cultures and subcultures. His visual thinking mostly opts for the format of multimedia installations.
Lali tried her hand at almost all the avant-garde movements, but she did not adhere to any of them in their pure form. The artist managed to create her own style without imitating anyone else.
Gogi Chagelishvili creates artworks in a variety of genres and styles, including portraits, landscapes, still lives, multi-figure scenes, and abstraction, amongst others. Nevertheless, none of his works possesses a descriptive nature. Through them, the artist does not express reality but rather his emotions, which turn into a story.
The creative space of Dmitry Khakhutashvili was filled with such invisible light, and his personality, surrounded by the smallest of material objects (a small bag) and the greatest of creative potential (the multifaceted colorful space), was dedicated to his thoughts. Dimitri Khakhutashvili is a bright representative of the 1950s generation of Georgian artists,
Gia Gugushvili is an independent artist who has been consistently evolving his creative output for the past 40 years. His works embrace those primary characteristics of abstract and subjectless painting that distinguished Western (European and American) painting of the second half of the twentieth century.
Zurab Nizharadze was a representative of the new wave of artists who, alongside the official art of the Soviet Union, ensured the emergence and development of new flow in fine art after World War II.
Guram Kutateladze’s landscapes display these encounters along with the emotions he experienced. Here the major focus is on infinity and incompleteness. The landscapes come to life thanks to their flexible shapes and textures that alter under the influence of light.
Tengiz Marr's long-term project, a series of still lives, is a kind of simultaneous dialogue with both old masters and representatives of contemporary trends, searching for relations between objects and words in order to discover what the still life genre might mean for contemporary painting, and what techniques can be employed to reflect the creatures of nature and their function for daily human life within the confines of modern consciousness.
The biographies of the Zdanevich brothers are as rich with the names of persons and events as their comprehensive works are in the fields of poetry, drawing, graphic painting, prose and theory. Their works have proven to be so difficult to fit within any existing Genre that they invented the additional term “Orchestral”, which describes a notion that unites in itself diverse elements, ideas, images, words, letters and colors.
Over twenty years Lagidze has drawn abstractions by placing rectangular shapes or sections on rectangular canvases, in this way creating his distinctive handwriting that is familiar to everyone. However, he is not the one who discovered the rectangles or the squares.
"I frequently think about where the inspiration and energy come from that make me continue working and designing different constructions. I am most of all interested in the topic of space: how a sculpture develops itself and relates to the external world, or how graphic works establish relationships with their internal universes,” - says Tengiz (Sepo) Sepiashvili about his work
The custom of erecting crosses in Georgia traces back to the time of Christianization of the Kingdom of Kartli in the 4th century. According to Georgian church tradition St. Nino, who converted Kartli to the new faith, put up wooden crosses in place of pagan idols to symbolize the country’s Christianization.
This year, Mariam Natroshvili and Detu Jincharadze will represent the Georgian National Pavilion with their savory, captivating, neo-surrealist work that was created through their unique visual language - "I Pity the Garden".
Since the very beginning of his artistic career, Tato Akhalkatsishvili has perceived the landscape as constituting a central component of his works. Akhalkatsishvili's landscapes developed over the years, with the incorporation of various technical and conceptual experiments, and are characterized by certain enigmatic features.
Tamar Abakelia was one of the most successful female artists of the first half of the 20th century – in the 1930s and 1940s. She was a multi-faceted creator: a sculptor, graphic artist, painter and illustrator, a theater and film painter, and finally, a socially and creatively active individual with a strong character.
On September 17, Andro Wekua’s solo show “It seems like that” was opened in Sprüth Magers, Berlin. This time, Wekua is presented among the “Berlin Art-week” shows, which is probably one of the most important events held in the city.
Niniko Morbedadze (1957) lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia. A graduate of the Tbilisi State Academy of Art, she is a prominent representative of the 1980s school of Georgian artists who lived through and reacted to the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Oleg Timchenko is one of the strongest figures of the group formed during Perestroika under the name of the “Tenth Floor.” His work is extremely diverse and sensitive, with poetry being one of its main features. He constantly demonstrates an incredible ability to transform, when brusque and aggressive gestures may be followed by very romantic and sentimental moods.
Over the past 30 years, the internet has reshaped and rearranged our communal understanding of the environment in the most diverse ways. When virtuality governs our everyday life, our main concern is whether it may become part of our perception.
Levan Tsutskiridze’s (1926 - 2021) oeuvre deals principally with literature. However, considering the uninterrupted monumentality of each of his pieces, he should not be labeled as a mere illustrator. In each of his paintings, Levan Tsutskiridze emerges as a sculptor, characterized through exceptional mastery of the principles of plasticity.
Myths endure and extend in Vajiko Chachkhiani’s (1985) interdisciplinary artistic practice. The artist, who lives and works in Tbilisi and Berlin, invokes tension in his films, sculptures and installations, grappling with penance and impunity, often of a familial nature.
Petre Otskheli, one of the most important representatives of Georgian Modernism, was born in 1907 into a wealthy Kutaisi family. At that time, Kutaisi was a city where the theater and several gymnasiums functioned alongside the cinema. In 1913 the Otskheli family moved to Moscow, where Petre's father began to run a broadcloth factory.
Despite never having boarded a plane, David Kakabadze “flew over” his native land at an altitude of a “bird in flight,” and captured landscapes that ended up becoming symbolic representations of Georgia – truly resembling bird’s-eye views.
Sergei Parajanov (1924 - 1990) is considered as one of the 20th century's greatest masters of cinema. His free cinematic forms, expressive power and originality of visual compositions still continue to impress filmmakers today.
Prescience and premonition play a prominent role in Thea Gvetadze’s artistic practice. At the same time, she propels the passions and presumptions of that which has been preserved for posterity. Her portfolio is replete with these complementary qualities — inspired patinas and apparitions of what may be in the offing.
Guram Tsibakhashvili, also known by his nickname Tsibakha, is one of the most outstanding figures in contemporary Georgian photography. He captured some of Georgia's most famous public figures and celebrities of the 1990s: individuals distinguished for their extravagance, unusual lifestyles, unorthodox views, and for expressing themselves freely.
In 1937, Poles living in the Soviet Union became targets of the so-called ‘Polish operation,’ which was launched by the Soviet secret police.
Throughout world history, the use of stained glass has been connected with the church and other religious facilities. For thousands of years, different types of glass were produced to animate or narrate Christian stories and illuminations.
artistic cafes of Tbilisi are a significant component of Modernism, a period from the end of the 19th century until the 1920-1930s when similar cabarets, clubs and cafes conquered almost all the major cities of Europe, including Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Petre Otskheli played a pivotal role in the development of Georgian scenography in the 20th century, and continues to influence it in the 21st. He was just twenty years of age when he began his career as a stage designer in Georgia, and only thirty when sentenced to death by the Soviet regime.
Irakli Parjiani’s oeuvre is all about attempting to decode the inscrutable. This is precisely why he kept revisiting the theme of the Annunciation — easily the central subject underlying most of his creations. Countless pieces inspired by this theme are scattered among numerous museums and private collections, and for the time being it would be virtually impossible to estimate their total number.
Giorgi Khaniashvili (1982) lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia. A graduate of both the Nikoladze Art College and the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, Khaniashvili is an exponent of the contemporary visual culture of "anything goes," blending myriad images and influences.
Gagosha – Georgian street artist Giorgi Gagoshidze was born in 1986. He works in different media: poetry, visual poetry, drawing, media art, etc. He studied computer science at Tbilisi University, and graduated with an MA in Technology Administration from Tallinn University of Technology.
In Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s practice, the five stages of dramatic structure (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement) pair with and find depth in the five senses.
Georgi (Gogi) Alexi-Meskhishvili was born in 1941 into the family of renowned architect Lado Aleksi-Meskhishvili. In 1967 he graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, and since that time has actively participated in exhibitions. Beginning from 1971, Gogi Alexi-Meskhishvili served as stage designer of the Shota Rustaveli Drama Theatre, Zakaria Paliashvili Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, and also cooperated with the Kote Marjanishvili State Drama Theatre.
On 23 April, Tornike Robakidze’s solo show was launched in gallery 4710. The name of the exhibition already promises us something about the celestial realm, but while doing so, it also reveals a kind of melancholy and doubt. What has sadness to do with paradise? On entering the gallery, one sees entire walls covered with pencil sketches/drawings.
Salome Dumbadze's solo exhibition Indoor Window- collected works, which encompass paintings, graphics and textiles, tether tender translucence with tranquil transcendence.
The story of Georgian Dadaism began sometime in the late 1910s, when the Zdanevich brothers (Kiril & Ilia) decided to form the art group “41 degrees”. Through Ilia’s concepts of “orchestral painting” and “everythingism,” the brothers aimed to transgress the boundaries of art, while simultaneously drawing different cultural patterns and meanings from the history of world art.
Despite the fact that artworks are created in an artist’s studio, their new configuration is determined by the specific space that puts them on display. Lying on the border of the ability and impossibility of communicating with the environment, any attempt to establish a relationship between the piece and the space will have its own impact on the mutual transformation.
Maia Naveriani’s artistic practice is rife with possibilities and the odd plight. Her works, primarily in colored pencil or watercolor on paper, are catalytic—charged with a jolt of life and composed with a coursing light.
You might begin to familiarize yourself with Zura Apkhazi’s artwork at a show somewhere, but you are bound to have questions, which may only be answered by visiting his studio. As you view his pieces, characterized by customary elegance of exposition, at a gallery, their distinctive brutality, large format and accentuated textures will certainly remind you of German Neo-Expressionism—only at first glance.
It all began in Georgia, in the 1980s. Luka Lasareishvili, representing the second most important wave in the history of Georgian abstract art, is now one of the most renowned contemporary Georgian artists residing abroad, known by the name of Luca Lazar.
The history of contemporary Georgian sculpture has its roots in the period around the turn of the 20th century, when Georgia began to reconnect with European cultural milieu after centuries of having been forcibly pulled away from it. It was at that time that pioneer Georgian sculptor Iakob Nikoladze (1876-1951) made his first appearance as an artist.
Koka Ramishvili is a Georgian artist, who lives in Geneva, works with different mediums and any of his projects is distinguished by reflexivity and exquisite quality. His art biography is very diverse: embraces artistic quests for general problems, as well as personal and intimate spaces.
In the light of the ongoing pandemic, visual arts have been more concerned with the idea of timelessness and exploration of underlying spatial concepts. As a result of inherent global changes, interrelation with art has taken a brand-new form, restricting presence of time and space in virtually everyone’s life.
Text and visual image are often interchangeable in the works of Karlo Kacharava, Georgian art critic, artist and poet (1964-1994). He inscribed notes on and inserted texts into his paintings.
With Pirosmanashvilis’s birth and death dates still remaining uncertain, his final resting place having been lost, and his biographies being largely based on enigmatic/equivocal memories, legends and assumptions, it now appears impossible to reconstruct the real story of the artist’s life. Such ambiguity imbues his image with certain mysticism, leaving his art as the only true evidence of his place among the pre-eminent painters of the twentieth century.
Architecture in developing countries is an excellent source for absurd content. Dehumanization of bureaucratic labyrinths and cynicism towards power in David Kukhalashvili’s expressive paintings seem to be intended for a new, animated version of The Trial by Kafka.
Vakho Bugadze is an artist who manages to strike a delicate balance between contrasting elements, combining brutal energy and sophisticated sensitivity to create a world free of tension in his works.
In the 1920s, the way the scenography system functioned was determined by new “aesthetic discoveries”. The immediate connection between stage design and the processes taking place in the realm of fine arts contributed to the introduction of avant-garde.
Cities, Mamuka Tsetskhladze’s solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Tbilisi, recently came to an end. I was completely taken over by the mesmerizing brilliance of his show, which ended up staying with me for an extended period of time.
Distinguished by her way of thinking, strength of character, views and courage, Elene Akhvlediani, commonly called Elichka, was the very epitome of freedom. Throughout her life, she remained inspired by the town of her birth, Telavi.
Tbilisi Mural Fest is an annual festival of street art held in Tbilisi. For the second time now, prominent artists from Berlin and other European cities are transforming Georgia’s capital into a public exhibition space - turning buildings into art objects. A new collaboration with the Kutaisi International University - a massive educational space with many buildings - resulted in a new mural festival in Kutaisi. This year, six murals will be created in Kutaisi. Besik Maziashvili, the founder of the festival is planning to make the festival an annual event.
The depository for Rusudan Gachechiladze’s sculptures is located right in the yard of her house, in a small-size shed of the so-called “Italian yard”. Dusted shelves provoke associations of art-house movie-frames.
The exhibition was initially conceived as a “No Fair”, a non-commercial exhibition organized in parallel to Tbilisi Art Fair. Starting from this year, the project transforms its conceptual scale and will continue in a new format: each of the future shows will be curated by a different person at a new location. The 2020's show show opens with the title Know Thy Neighbor under curation of Irena Popiashvili.
Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s painting is full of variability of themes and serendipity, although they are integrated in one great and long-term project, which is Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s landscape.
The existence of the Universe is originated from a garden, the Garden of Eden. Merab Abramishvili is a a creator of a garden. A garden is his desirable world, more precisely, archetype model of a garden – ‘A Garden of Eden’. His painting is totally linked with the ‘Paradise’ topos and dedicated to the pleasure while ‘being in’ the garden and the dangerous adventure while ‘being out’ of it.
Over the course of the past 8 years, since my return to Georgia in 2012, contemporary art scene in Tbilisi has transformed dramatically. And that is certainly not a product of state initiatives. I would say, these transformations have been initiated independently, by artists and curators, and what we observe today is a result of a grassroots movement of sorts.
Alexander (Shura) Bandzeladze- Georgian representative of Abstract Expressionism. In the early 1990s, Alexander Bandzeladze was the eldest of acting figures of Georgian Contemporary Art and one of the first artists, who, in the 1960s and 1970s, deliberately engaged himself in late modernism problems and further influenced on-going art processes in Georgia.
Pandemic by Tamuna Melikishvili is one of the finest artistic commentaries on the subject-matter that has defined the modern era. Stylized portraits of strangers and passers-by are inserted on a page of a 1906 architectural album featuring iconic models of Renaissance-style windows. These windows are used as frames for the faces gazing out from within personal space, separated from the outside world, revealing the overarching mood of quarantine through their interests and anticipation, notes of despair and the inevitable psychological tension.