Ketuta Aleksi-Meskhishvili

Herself an artist, she writes about her memories of the great filmmaker Sergo Parajanov in the April issue of Artforum, as well as giving an interesting insight into the underground art scene of Soviet Georgia. 
Some of Ketuta's works:

For more visit Ketuta's blog: http://ketuta.blogspot.co.uk/


Another Gudiashvili to set the records on Sotheby's upcoming auction

An oil painting, Temptation by Lado Gudiashvili will be sold on the Important Russian Art auction at Sotheby's on the 3rd of June. Painted as a present to Nino Nicoladze, 'a legendary Parisian beauty' (as Sotheby's describes her), it is set to change the owner after long 60 years.

Sotheby's press release:

A gift from the artist to Nino Nicoladze
Acquired from the above by the father of the present owners circa 1947-1948
Paris, Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, Salon d'Automne, 1 November - 20 December 1922, no.1067
Paris, Galerie Joseph Billiet & Co., Lado Goudiachvili, 9 - 23 January 1925, no. 3
M. Raynal, Lado Goudiachvili, Paris: Editions Au sans Pareil, 1925, illustrated pl.9
V. Beridze, Gudiashvili, Tblisi, 1975, illustrated pl.8
L.Gagua, Lado Gudiashvili: Kniga vospominanii, statʹi iz perepiski, sovremenniki o khudozhnike, Moscow 1987, illustrated p.81
Catalogue Note
The female figure in this superb large-scale work from Gudiashvili's Paris period is thought to be Nino Coquet (1881-1972), née Nicoladze, who was close to the artist and received the painting from him as a gift. A cousin of the great Georgian politician Irakli Tsérétéli, Nino was part of the artistic circles of Montparnasse and rented out rooms to artists during the 1920s. Her charm and beauty were legendary and Louis Aragon based a character in his 1934 book Les Cloches de Bâle on Nino.
Through the paintings of Lado Gudiashvili one falls in love with Georgia’ wrote Maurice Raynault in his 1925 monograph on Gudiashvili. The offered lot, painted when the artist was barely twenty-five years old, is infused with the nostalgia for his homeland that fascinated French audiences. The aesthetic appeal of exotic landscape and mysterious figures is not dissimilar to those of Gauguin’s Tahitian canvases (fig.3). The male figure standing half concealed on the left of the picture resembles the bohemian Kinto peasants from canvases such as Kutezh kinto s zhenshchinei (exh. Salon d’Automne, 1920) while the female figure bears the distinctive features of Gudiashvili’s idealised Georgian beauty. Ironically it is while in Paris, when farthest from his homeland, that Gudiashvili produced his most resonant visions of Georgia.
Having arrived in Paris on New Year’s Day in 1920 Gudiashvili was almost immediately recognised as a significant artistic force, most clearly demonstrated by the acceptance of four canvases at the Salon d’Automne that year. Visiting Gudiashvili’s studio after the exhibition Ignacio Zuloaga, who by this point enjoyed a considerable reputation in Europe, purchased a number of works, and Gudiashvili soon became an integral part of the circle of artists who frequented the Café de la Rotonde. Teachers at the Académie Ronson were impressed by his natural talents, and figures as diverse as André Breton heralded the young Georgian as an important new figure in Paris. The dealer James Rosenburg exhibited eight of Gudiashvili’s paintings in New York in 1923 alongside works by Matisse, Modigliani, Signac and Vlaminck; following a solo exhibition at the Boulle Gallery in 1925 the critic Maurice Reynault published a monograph on the young artist, who was not yet thirty.
Paris held more for Gudiashvili than simply an exhibition space. The influence of the Nabis, in particular Paul Ranson (whose Parisian Academy Gudiashvili briefly attended), is evident in the striking palette, clearly delineated forms and individual Symbolist iconography of the current work. The theme of a reclining female nude together with a scopophilic figure most likely takes inspiration from works such as Ingres’ Grande Odalisque (1814, The Louvre Museum) and Manet’s Olympia (1863, Musée d’Orsay); the horse restrained, is perhaps a reflection of the artist’s own youthful ambition and energy. Both of these motifs feature heavily in Gudiashvili’s oeuvre, for example the latter in Kutezh na Fazeone (1920, Museum of Art named after Sh. Amiranashvili, Tblisi) and the former in Kupal’nitsa v lesu (1921).
Gudiashvili’s success was in part due to his retention of a uniquely Georgian aesthetic. Before leaving for Paris, Gudiashvili assisted in the restoration of ancient frescoes in churches throughout Southern Georgia. The close study of these monuments had a profound effect on his style; the present composition for example, is theatrical but economical, with boldly outlined figures distinctly separated into fore and back grounds with a limited degree of modulation in the colouring. The adaptation of these Byzantine formal arrangements set Gudiashvili apart from his contemporaries.'

Previous Important Russian Art sale hosted another of Gudiashvili's Paris Period oil painting, By the Black Stream. Praised as ‘a stunning example of Georgian folklore seen through the prism of French impressionism’, it has fetched the legendary £937,250. The Temptation is amongst the most expensive pieces to offer, projecting the never-fading and only-growing interest in Gudiashvili’s art.

For the online catalogue of the sale visit: 


Kamikaze Loggia - Georgian Pavillion in Venice

Kamikaze Loggia
Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia

Bouillon Group, Thea Djordjadze, Nikoloz Lutidze, Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, Gio Sumbadze
Commissioner: Marine Mizandari, First Deputy Minister of Culture of Georgia Curator: Joanna Warsza
June 1 – November 24, 2013
Preview: May 29 – 31, 2013

Venue: Kamikaze Loggia at the Arsenale 
Kamikaze Loggia in construction
Official Press Release
The Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia will be a parasitic extension to an old building in the Arsenale. This informal structure called a “kamikaze loggia”—characteristic of Tbilisi—will be designed by the artist Gio Sumbadze, who is a researcher of these architectural additions. Vernacular extensions of modernist buildings have been created since the 1990s as an organic response to the new, “lawless” times after the fall of the Soviet Union. They increase the living space and are usually used as terraces, extra rooms, open refrigerators, or—as in Sumbadze’s case— an artist studio. It is said that a Russian journalist named them “kamikaze”, drawing a parallel between the romantic and suicidal character of such endeavour and the typical ending of most Georgian family names “- adze”. This architecture also refers back to the local palimpsestic building technique, which since the Middle Ages, allows new houses to be built on top of existing ones on the steep slopes of the Caucasus Mountains: thus not monumentalising the past, but expanding on it for the future.
This year the Pavilion of Georgia will take the form of a kamikaze loggia hosting an exhibition of the artists Bouillon Group, Thea Djordjadze, Nikoloz Lutidze, Gela Patashuri with Ei Arakawa and Sergei Tcherepnin, and Gio Sumbadze. The exhibition will take as its point of departure the creation of such informal architecture, a manifestation of the refusal of dominant structures, in order to incorporate provisional liberty, local self-determination, and acknowledging while also building upon the infrastructural legacy of Soviet master plans. The exhibition aims at presenting the extraordinary range of informality, bottom-up solutions and the concept of self-organization in Georgian art and architecture. Through its performativity, the exhibition will attempt an overview of the potential of shared knowledge present in adaptations, subversive strategies, the shadow economy, and in exploring ways of bypassing regulations. Looking at local examples of self-initiated environments—e. g. kamikaze loggias, “euroremonts”, “beautifications” or modifications of the Soviet heritage—the project will seek to examine their anticipatory, critical and often progressive potential: one comprising multiple secondary uses and sustainable, self- organising parallel policies present in the cultural discourse of today.
During the opening days the artists will be using and adopting the space of the pavilion in a series of staged, performative situations and choreographed sequences both inside the loggia and outside in the Arsenale. The aim of the exhibition Kamikaze Loggia is to cast a critical and progressive look at the social, political and ideological aura of the last twenty years in Georgia as well as the condition of contemporary art and architecture within it — thus introducing an artistic scene of a country that sometimes is described as “Italy gone Marxist”.

Artistic Advisor: Nana Kipiani
Assistant curator: Sandra Teitge Project manager: Gvantsa Turmanidze

Supported and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. 

Contemporary art portal

Art.gov.ge brings together news about upcoming exhibitions in Georgia. If you are in Geogria keep an eye on http://www.art.gov.ge/news.php?lang=En

More about Georgian art in 'the Vogue of Art world', the Artforum- Niko Pirosmani

  Niko Pirosmani is the mystical figure haunting the art scene up to the very present.
Often seen as the grandfather of Georgian contemporary art world, here the great Primitivist is discussed from a very unusual perspective by an art historian and galerist Irina Popiashvili. 

Some of Pirosmani paintings: 

The Actress Margarita

The Giraffe

Nurse with a Baby

The America's most influential art magazine, ArtForum, on curating in Georgia

Baia Gallery opens an exhibition showcasing works by late Irakli Parjiani

Late Irakli Parjiani, the famous Georgian painter whose painting, Crucifixion, was exhibited at Sotheby's in the beginning of  the year, sees his personal exhibition open at Baia Gallery in Georgia. 

Crucifixion (1989) is from a series of paintings titled the Berlin Cycle (1989-1990) that Irakli Parjiani completed a year before his death. The artist concentrated on themes of religion, landscape and abstraction throughout his life. Reworking similar subjects held a conceptual significance for the artist who treated them as meditation. The artist has said himself: "I think I am through with the theme of the Annunciation, but the more variations I paint the more new ideas crop up and it has become an endless, inexhaustible theme in my work. Concentration on one theme for its profound conceptualization and perception is by far more important to me than a rapid progression and variety."[1] Crucifixion, along with the other paintings from the series, such as Annunciation (1989), in their ethereal, almost abstract spirituality can be seen as the swan song of Parjiani's creative career.
[1]The artist quoted in B. Tsikoridze, Irakli Parjiani, Tbilisi, 2011.


KOTE SULABERIDZE- The great investigator of 'the estrangement of traditional Georgian culture'

 Kote Sulaberidze belongs to the generation of Georgian artists who have witnessed the Soviet and post-Soviet Georgia and the transition between the two. This has included wars, revolutions, economic crises and finally the first democratic elections. In true Georgian nature, humor has become the critical self-defense mechanism for him too. Meeting Mr. Sulaberidze, a chubby-looking man, there is not a single negative vibe coming from him. Having been selected by the Sotheby's team for the exhibition At the Crossroads, Kote was honoured to attend the opening of the exposition. Very anxious of the audience's response, he never left his canvas; while the spectator observed his work he carefully inspected their faces trying to read the responses. Outside the gallery space he is a very cheerful and easy-going person. 

Baku Magazine, Spring 2013

Being notoriously color-blind, the artwork By Eyes of the Colour-blind, he presented on the exhibition is about the condition- it is a mock color blindness test for the audience- if your sight is in order you would notice the 13 on the adjoining canvases:
'I have been working around the theme since 1985 when I accidentally discovered I was colorblind. When applying to the academy of arts, the officials did not want to take me on board and claimed I were colorblind, so I went and bought a doctor's note, but when I was told the same while applying for driver's license I realized there was something wrong. My friend who is a doctor confirmed that I had a condition. So I started reading the theory about it and came to conclusion there is not much known about it. This painting is a kind of experiment- I wanted to portray your vision based on theoretical knowledge and at the same time I am giving you an opportunity to see through my eyes.  My wife has helped me a lot- I cannot see the 13 that has to appear in the middle (between the two adjoining canvases), so she had to correct it. Same about the 6- I see it vividly but my wife says it is not there.  This is a prototype of the medical test that conditioned me with colour-blindness.'

 His best work, however, has to be the one rooted in the banal realities of everyday life in Georgia. With the humor as an inseparable component to his art, Mr.Sulaberidze has created a range of pseudoscientific sketches to portray the bittersweet living in Georgia. Sketch 965, Khinkali (Meat dumpling, a Georgian traditional dish) from the Travellers Series is one of the kind; drawn on the graph paper, with all the measurements it does seem like an instructions paper for a technical equipment; except that it is a drawing of a Khinkali, creating the absurdity that may have engulfed the whole of Georgia. The multi-angled sketch of the Khinkali ridicules the feeling of national pride that somehow came to be entangled and inseparable from Khinkali. Famous Georgian poet Kote Kubaneishvili has characterised the Georgian soul as the steam coming out of Khinkali. Bespoke for hospitality, hosting a dinner for a foreign guest and giving them a taste of Georgian cousine is an absolute 'must'- it came to be a signifier of Georgian culture and ostensibly, the only thing Georgians are proud of as part of their national identity. There is an apparent criticism of the society in Sulaberidze's work that only cares about what to eat and drink, which is quite close to the reality. Although denying having political or social undercurrents as the focus of his art, Kote elaborates:
'Art should not be politicized, but politics is the part of our everyday lives, so in a way it influences art. I would distinguish between being politicized and having political content. When I painted Shevardnade (the former President of Georgia) for example, I had not conceived a politicized piece of art, it might be seen like one but I had not planned it that way. I have created the piece for the exhibition in Moscow, which was organised as a united project of the Georgian and Russian ministries of Culture. Funnily enough these works were sent to Moscow by a bus, which on its way started selling products –potatoes and sunflower seeds.It as then when Russian media started employing the term- 'Person of Caucasian identity’, which was not a pleasant tag for me as a Georgian or in fact any Caucasian person. Also, it was the time of the Chechen Wars and as the art works were travelling to Moscow I have decided to work around this concept. The work might be social and not only political; every country's leader is initially the citizen of the country as well as being an ordinary person. There are some responsibilities that all of us share.'

With the exhibition At the Crossroads: Contemporary Art from the Caucasus and Central Asia Sotheby's tried to overview the region and grasp the political and economic changes these counties have gone through but even more so, it was an attempt to summarize and analyze the contemporary art scene of these nations. As Joanna Vickery writes in the foreword to the catalogue: '[the] show aims to increase awareness of their work and foster the emerging market for art from this fascinating yet widely unexplored region'. Even though the results of the exhibition (as it was a sale) have not been publicly announced, it already has created a promising precedent for the cultures largely unknown to Europe.