Giorgi Xaniashvili

Giorgi Xaniashvili’s art is most likely to shock the Georgian audience, even if the artist does not see it as his ultimate goal. The society where religion is as prevalent as it is in here, finds it hard to accept the harsh truth of Xaniashvili’s art.
‘I am not trying to preach moral codes; I just don’t like the influences and attitudes that are dominant in today’s society. I find them comical.The values that are wrapped in a way that is appealing to the society and that they cherish, whereas in reality it turns out that the Kinto is a homosexual and the society does not want to believe in it, they like the dance so they ignore it.
My aim is to declare the situation, present it in its most extreme form- so that it becomes more visible and leaves no one indifferent.’Declaring no interest for the Nature-mortes that seem to flood Georgian art, he still sees the place for the subject matter.

Xaniashvili’s art does share feminist thought protesting against the objectification of women and their apprehension as one’s property. In a society where female solidarity is non-existent it is astonishing to find a male artist thinking in this way. Protesting against the gender stereotypes, he realises the depth of these implications, trying to distance himself, he catches these influences in his thinking too.The artist continues the theme of masculinity and boldly criticises our perception of a ‘successful man’- with an expensive car, donating money to the church and owning a woman.

Working in comics continuum, Khaniashvili builds the narratives around the subjects such as the fetishizing of boys. Having a baby boy is still seen as one of the great achievements of a woman- a boy as a future of the name, the genetics, the family and the tradition.  The cartoon culminates in the son having oral sex with the father, cutting deep into and pointing at the paranoia of the society. For a country with an appalling rate of gender-specific abortion (when the mother decides to abort the pregnancy in case of having a girl) it is vital to highlight the absurdity of the situation.

Nowadays, the subject of homosexuality is one of the most debated issues in Georgia. Xanianshvili decided to summarise the society’s perception of these people-notably portraying the main hero as a man, as in Georgia homosexuality is almost always associated with men (the anxiety towards the male sexuality and even in here women are omitted) with the rabbit ears, the priest on the other hand is trying to protect his carrots and chases the rabbit away.
All of his drawings act as sketches for the sculptures either in wood or plaster. His future plans are to create the series of pseudo-decorative multicoloured porcelain sculptures, which will resemble the ones the soviet housewives have been obsessed with, but with an ironical twist so characteristic to the artist. The gay rabbit with a mobster priest are already in plaster waiting to be painted.

Khaniashvili works a lot with the material of wood; preferring it for its adaptable quality, the artist exploits the material creating the headless animals connected to each other as a symbol of the human interconnectedness. His most mature work so far is also in wood; the duo of a Venus and an Archangel offers a coexistence of the mythological and the contemporary, dead and very alive, mobile and static, flexible and rigid.


When working on the iconography of a Venus, the artist draws parallels to the figure of the Christ: ‘in the nutshell, Christ is also a mythological figure, but in comparison to Venus, this mythological figure is still alive and has not lost his relevance.' The goddess Venus is dead, but still personifying the module of beauty; Xaniashvili’s Venus tries to capture our contemporary perceptions of beauty and perfection. The hybrid of the goddess and the near-to-anorexia body tell so much of today’s society.

In our religion, the archangel is never depicted in 3-dimensions; the chronological development of the Orthodox Christianity seems to be the motive of the work. The figure of the archangel creates a contrast to the one of the Venus; the Goddess’s body follows the anatomical build up of a human, whereas the archangel’s body is smooth and sexless, even the joints are immobile. The heads of both sculptures are quite precise copies of the more known iconography, Xaniashvili creates the gods and saints of XXI century if you like.

Ironically enough the artist often gets commissions from the Church; for example a statue for the Catholic Church of Tbilisi. Then he creates cartoons about his working process. The main agenda is the objectification of something sacred, which equates to scandal in a society of Tbilisi; it is not surprising that the Facebook comments are often disapproving. It is peculiar how Xaniashvili and many of his contemporaries use Facebook as their online galleries, acting like the agents of themselves; you can view their art, contact them and even buy it from Facebook. For Xaniashvili religion is an object and funny enough a way of income. The climax of such relationship takes place on the last part of the comics; after taking the money for the work, the artist kisses the cross- ‘paying the dues’ as he calls it.


He analyses the religion coming out of the everyday context, how religion intervenes and is intertwined with the everyday living in Georgia, rather than criticising the religion itself, Xaniashvili claims to criticise these influences. The grim and grotesque imagery does translate the everyday living into art with the anatomical precision, no aestheticism involved. 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/giorgi.xaniashvili?fref=ts


Tamara Kvesitadze at Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin

"From 25 May until 10 August, Galerie Kornfeld will show Tamara Kvesitadze (b 1968) for the first time in Germany. The exhibition RED is a new group of works that was uniquely developed for presentation in Berlin. Tamara Kvesitadze counts among the most important Georgian artists of the present day. After her work was shown in a group exhibition at the Georgian pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Tamara Kvesitadze had the honor of representing Georgia with a highly successful solo exhibition at the 2011 Biennale. Tamara Kvesitadze’s work includes kinetic sculptures and paintings, wherein the human being plays an essential role. The tension in the relationship between genders is a main focus of her œuvre. Its roots lie in antiquity and mythology as well as in surrealism. Violence and sexuality are intertwined. Faces, masks and fragmented bodies symbolize the internal conflict of modern individuals, their emotions, their strive for happiness and fulfillment, their fears and hopes. Questions about individuality are raised, and the relationships between the individual and society and fellow humans are examined.
Movement is an important feature in Tamara Kvesitadze’s sculptures. During the 1980s she studied architecture at the Georgian Technical University in Tbilisi, and soon began to create works that successfully combined art and construction.
Yet her primary concern was not the representation of movement using the resources of contemporary sculpture; her interest in movement is far more comprehensive. “I was always interested in Greek philosophy and especially the
aphorisms of Heraclitus,” she says. “According to him, everything is in flux and one can never enter the same river twice, as it is in constant motion. Given that sculpture is not typically linked to movement, I became more and more interested inexperimenting with this idea in my practice." Tilman Treusch, Galerie Kornfeld


The newest history of Georgia in Mediagraffiti


For countries with Soviet background mosaics in public spaces are not alien occurrences. However, Giorgi Tabatadze references his evolvement with the media back to the Christian roots, when the vital iconography was depicted through it. Rather than personifying the hymns to Communist workers, mosaics by Tabatadze revolve around the Georgian news programs. 
'Main object of my investigation was media, but my aim was not to “study Georgian media”, rather to look through this lens into the mechanics of socio-political or cultural reality of our society. Neither was my aim to analyse political discourse.'The selection of the images sharing the unusual titles are dispersed around the hometown of Tbilisi in a seemingly random locations.


Center and Periphery is a mosaic depicting the very moment when an iconic sculpture of the King David was being moved from the centre of the city to the outskirts of Tbilisi, to be installed on the highway. The event was greatly protested by the intellectuals of the city, perceiving it as a great assault. Unfortunately, the monument remains in Dighomi. 
'Creation of the new by itself is already quite a violent act; it is an act of violence towards the already existing. The traces of this violence are quite visible in our public spaces, especially in the vital parts of the city.'


The theme of disrespecting the historical monuments is further portrayed in the mosaic called the Impossible Trajectory. The image is taken from the reportage of the Soviet monument (dedicated to the heroes of the Second World War) being blown up, causing the death of two people. 
'Visually it looked like a “take off” of the cosmic shuttle, but one with an impossible trajectory to achieve.The mosaic is called the Impossible Trajectory because our desire to shoot this monument away from our public space, erase it from our collective memory is an impossible task.'
The trend of forgetting, even erasing the Soviet past  in an attempt to move forward prevails the country. This anxiety was expressed most vividly in destroying monuments and buildings. However, precisely this historical amnesia does not allow the country to evolve.


The Blind Peoples Union annual congress making the headlines became worthy of Tabatadze's attention too. The meeting which turned into a violent fight among the blind people was to focus on a solution regarding the soviet heritage the union had inherited. The artist draws parallels between this event and the Rose Revolution.
'Interestingly, the event replicates the structure of the bigger event that had happened earlier, namely the Rose Revolution. It shows how bigger political event has caused ripple effect even is such marginal social group as blind people. After such a long period of a social and political stagnation suddenly in 2003 we saw the burst of energy released after the Rose Revolution. Almost all these materials are violent, but this violence comes from the place where this energy still doesn't know how to transform into positive solutions, how to find constructive ways of changing things and then it finds its release in violence.'


The mosaic depicts a detail of the Technical University of Batumi, a high-rise building with a  Ferris Wheel built into it- supposedly rotating restaurant. Tabatadze found the contradictory functions of the building quite peculiar, even if the news material was not significant at all. For the artist this illogical, confusing and contradicting hybrid personifies the time it was created in. 


The Spline Line according to Tabatadze depicts the symbolic change in the ruling of the now previous government. 'It was a symbolic gesture representing and stating a new contract, new rhythm and clear break with the old perception of the ineffective governance towards very aggressive, very active and dynamic style of governance.'
The actual image is from the news about the operation dedicated to capturing the priest who was abusing the religious minorities. The police was breaking the church door by smashing a car into it-'a symbolic act that represented the character and tendency of the new post Rose-revolution political discourse in our country that would last for almost a decade.'

Working closely with the social reality of his surroundings, Tabatadze describes his practice as such:
'My artistic practice pretty much deals with difficult job of incorporating this sort of "ready made" contexts and materials into the interpretations and translations I make of them. I'm trying to incorporate their original context or historical actuality into my work and process of thinking. Right now information that is available for us is overwhelming making it almost impossible to digest, but at least trying to draw the map where exactly and which kind of cultural body we live in is possible I think.'

Visit the personal site of Giorgi Tabatadze: http://gtabatadze.com/index.html