Nini Palavandishvili

Critical thoughts about Georgian Contemporary Art Situation
(Raw material, fragment)

temporary art and contemporary art environment is very young term in Georgia. In 2004, as i returned from Germany to Georgia, the situation i found was very difficult in terms of there was no public present of contemporary art scene in Georgia. All the active artist were working in their ateliers and there was no communication taking place in the general public.

There are several problems, which are reciprocal and accumulate a general situation which we face today in Georgia's art scene.

The Lack of good education. The system at the state art academy is very conservative and totalitarian. The teachers from older generation simply do not have the knowledge of contemporary art discourse which takes place in western or world art market to transfer it to students.
And there is no openness towards teaching staff from young generation and IF they are allowed to teach, they are very restricted or limited in their methods. It should be mentioned right here, that the wrong religious education of the society plays very important role in the educational system, most of the western values are understood as unethical.
As alternative to academic education there is just Internet which offers information about developments in contemporary art world.
The possibility to purchase recent or even older editions of art books
and catalogs about contemporary art is very limited. No state library offers them, the book shops sell mostly popular editions. They are not interested in selling editions which are not profitable. and
the range of students who can purchase lots of good expensive art
books is very low.

Next problem is bound on presentation opportunities: there is no institution in Georgia representing contemporary art. There are state galleries representing cultural heritage and art until 1970ies 80ies. Most of the galleries which consider themselves as contemporary are showing art works which are produced indeed now, but are absolutely not contemporary in their realization and thematic.
Aligned with education it should be mentioned here, that there are no professional gallerists and curators in Georgia, in the soviet time and educational system the only faculty related to theory of art was art history, not even art criticism, there was no notion of art management and curatorial practice. this leads again to the problems of present practice, contemporary art exhibitions taking place lack of theoretical and thematic background.

One should also admit, that there have been several attempts to change
the given situation, - MAF (media art farm), which was a school concentrated and educating student in new media (photo, video..) existed from 2000 to 2006. They also organized 2 international contemporary art exhibitions APPENDIX. - GeoAIR (2003 onwards) organizes and supports international exchange projects with the goal of strengthening the Georgian and Caucasian art world, bringing together artists from different cultural backgrounds and finding relevant contexts for them to work in. 2007 GeoAIR started a project 'Archidrome' Contemporary Art Archive, which serves as a presentation room where regular meetings, discussions and presentations take place. We invite local as well as foreign artist for presentations and lectures that concern the cultural events in the region. It is about making a place where people can come and see creations, knowledge, experience and ideas that originate or are to be found in the Caucasus. It is like opening a window that gives you the opportunity to look into this field.
2010 GeoAIR starts its residency program. The GeoAIR residency program is a self directed residency program, that offers primarily curators and cultural producers the opportunity to base themselves in Tbilisi and use this location as a starting point to build networks, meet artists, cultural institutions and curators from the Caucasus region, and develop and deepen their knowledge and research of the Caucasus context.
There is no pre-programmed residency available in Tbilisi (there are art pensions for artists), and very rear opportunities for curators and theoreticians to work in and about Georgia and Caucasus. It is important to stress that our residency program is emphasizing a collaborative process with institutions, organizations and culture producers from the Caucasus region to strengthen and extend the artistic foundation of this area and to encourage and stimulate the exchange of knowledge and the production of significant cultural projects on long-term basis.

Since couple of years Georgian ministry of culture started to support Georgian art scene in some way, with their financial support Georgia is represented at Venice Biannale since 2007. Since two years Artisterium - International Contemporary Art Exhibition takes place in Tbilisi http://www.artisterium.org/

There are several curators, interested in Georgian art scene, supporting it and contributing to its development, Daniel Bauman is organising since 2004 international art projects called Tbilisi.

Also Goethe Institute and British Council in Georgia are supporting exchange between contemporary artist from and to Georgia very much.

One should also stress, that the situation described above is illustrative just for Tbilisi, in regions it is much worse. The interest from the young generation is present, but the chance to develop it is still not provided.

We can say that Georgia experiences very long transitional situation, the generation which is interested in contemporary art discourse either artists or future curators, critics are mostly living and
studying abroad. Hopefully the situation will change in next close future.

We are under permanent construction :)


Irina Gabiani

Cherish the child within you, 2006; Secret words, 2004; Sephiroth, 2004

Irina Gabiani (1971) lives and works in Luxemburg.

Active since the mid 90's, she has become a conceptual artist who works with the combined worlds of visuals, sculptures (frequently in porcelain and ceramics) and stage performance, creating surprisingly symbolic art.

Irina was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. She studied at J.nikoladze Art collage and at 1990 applied to the Tbilisi State Academy of Art (painting and drawing department). From 1994 to 1997 she studied "Free Direction" and Jewelry at Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Art, Amsterdam.

Irina has a long list of performances, solo and group exhibitions, including galleries as The Total Kunst Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Velan Centre for Contemporary Art, Torino (Italy); Guildford LaneGallery ,Melbourne (Australia); Unione culturale Franco Antonicelli, Torino (Italy); Georgian Cultural Centre Mziuri, Moscow (Russia) ; Wannabee Gallery, Milano (Italy); Beaumontpublic, Luxembourg (Luxembourg); Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche - Spazi Bomben per la Cultura, Trevizo (Italy); Zaion Gallery , Biella (Italy); Museo Civico del Broletto, Salone Arengo, Novara (Italy); Formverk Art space, Eskilstuna (Sweden); Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, Torino (Italy); National Gallery, Tbilisi (Georgia);

I was introduced to her works recently, by searching for her online, after we both took part in the "Stop waiting Georgia" exhibition at the Tbilisi Historical Museum – Carvasla.

Irina's art is closely associated with the literary movement of symbolism and the extensive dualistic visions of her icons are representation of her deep philosophical views. It leads us to the complexity of the universe, its parallel realities and back to our world with its every day surroundings, rules and systems.

I'm happy to have a possibility to feature in my blog some of Irina Gabiani's art. I hope that in the future this blog will also feature some performance documentations and maybe few words about it as well.

The dance of life, 2006; The Slaves of the System, 2005; Samaia or triamazikamno, 2007


Ilona B.Keil

After 10 years of being apart, we meet again. Strange that this happens in Düsseldorf; the city of glamour, brands and the known art academy (from which I still hear echoes of Beuys, Richter and Gründgens).

This evening Ilona showed me her most private works and, according to her, her first conceptual series. Without saying so, it feels that this series is too private to display publicly right now, but one day we both might feel differently.

So, I post for now some other great and poetic works by Ilona: one was made after her first visit to Düsseldorf and the other is her 2005 portrait of Gerhard Richter.

Translation from German

I wanted to keep you "true" in my memory; I did not make a photo of you.

Next day I went to the place, where we sat together, I wanted to keep the image of what we have seen together.



“Stop waiting Georgia” the exhibition organized by Nino Gujabidze and Alexandra Matsatso Gabunia.

June 12, 2009 , 6:00 pm till June 19, 2009 Carvasla Georgian National Museum Ioseb Grishashvili Tbilisi Historical Museum

In August 2008, the aggressive actions of the Russian military forces caused the Georgian society to go into a state of stress and depression. At the same time, nihilism is still a strong phenomenon in the society of Georgia.

Actual Art is an exhibition aimed at transforming vital images from the Georgian reality through artistic-aesthetic concepts. We hope to cause a strong social impact - we emphasize the notion of actuality, which obtains a new artistic sense: any action of an artist is directed at getting the Georgian society involved in the country's process of rehabilitation following the war.


Marika Kandelaki

Marika was studying at the same art college (J.Nikoladze, Tbilisi) as myself, Tamar Bochorishvili, Ilona Keil Beruchashvili, Erna Dolmazova, Kristine Kakabadze and others. We studied in the same class, but never had any kind of contact.
As a first year collage student, I never initiated conversations with other students; the following years for me in "Nikoladze" were way more communicative, but by then (1996) Marika already left Georgia for the USA. We missed our opportunity to know each other then, but today via the internet we finally made contact.

Hallelujah to the internet!

Marika Kandelaki was born in 1980, Tbilisi, Georgia. She was born to an artistic family – her father a painter (Vladimir) and her grandfather a designer and cartoonist called Andro Kandelaki, who worked for "Niangi" (political satire magazine in Georgian language, from 1923). [And here I attach Andro Kandelakis book cover, and this is the first creation made by a man to be featured in this blog! Could not restrain myself]

In early 1989 Marikas father left for the US to have an exhibition there. His trip was followed by the collapse of the USSR and he incidentally remained in US.
Meanwhile Perestroika…

Marika described to me this period as probably the most notable in her life (apparently also to most of our generation) – in her own words: that period had hesitant optimism, a hope for a progressive update of the system with a competitive eye on the West…We all wanted to update our values to more glossy possibilities…
After Marika moved to Philadelphia she decided that the glam of fashion industry was the way to go. She was accepted to art school, Moore Collage of Art and Design, where she studied for almost a year, but did not like the place and so she moved to NYC and applied to Parsons School of design where she studied (and graduated in 2003) graphic design and fashion. She felt that both of the departments, especially the graphic department, were too commercial.
After graduation Marika started working for designer Elise Overland designing and hand-making clothes for various "Rock Stars" and celebrities: Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) was her turning point!
…I knew that this is as creative as Fashion world can get, meaning it not formally of course but the idea of it... that, when the bottom line is to sell there can be no truth. If the creativity is dictated by consumer...I mean…

That's where the world is now anyway... so I decided that I HAD to as I always should have done art.Since then I've been developing my vision and direction. And since I did not go through the "fine art" educational bureaucracy I kind of had to find my own path…
Marika started freelancing in the Fashion industry and doing art as sort of free enterprise, and in 2004 she joined the music band "Alex Delivery" providing vocals and percussion. In addition, she made paintings for their album "Star Destroyer" which came out in April.
Since then she has been focusing completely on her art.

From the series"Marble or Gold"



One-day Exhibition 'OPEN UP' at the Open Air Museum of Ethnography, Tbilisi.
First of June 2009, from 20:00 pm to 23:00 pm .
(painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, poster)

Tamar Melikishvili, Murtaz Shvelidze, Sophia Cherkezishvili, Gia Loria, Maka Batiashvili, Oleg Timchenko, David Alexidze, Misha Shengelia, Kote Sulaberidze, Irina Abzhandadze, Niko Tsetskhladze, Natela Grigalashvili, Guram Tshibakhashvili, Liza Osephaishvili, Irina Kurmaeva, Thea Telia, Marina Ivanishvili, Mamuka Japharidze, Niko Lomashvili, Zurab Nastsvlishvili, Erna Dolmazova , Levan Kakabadze, Nino Sekhniashvili , LIza Epitashvili, Gela Kintsurashvili, Regina Ter-Nersesian, Kakha Burduli, Giorgi Shotadze, Nino Mgaloblishvili and myself (geographically I'm far away, but my latest work will be presented there).
Curator of the exhibition: Alexandra (Matsatso) Gabunia


Nino Tskvitaia

I really accidentally bumped into Nino Tskvitaia's art blog. I was delighted to see that she had such an individual voice: drawings and photographs with a touch of sarcasm in her short posts. We had an interesting correspondence by mail, and she introduced me to her life and artistic education.

Nino Tskvitaia was born in 1983. She started painting and sewing from an early age. Her first art teacher, Tata Bakradze, recommended that she would focus on painting and in 2001 Nino was accepted to the painting department at the State University of Tbilisi. At the same time Nino studied foreign languages and had a job.
After her graduation she went to Bavaria, Germany, where studied German and went to evening classes of model drawing in Nürnberg Academy of Art (Akademie der Bildenden Künste). Soon after she came back to her hometown, where she continues to create her inspiring art.

In our correspondence I asked her some questions regarding her artistic line – here they are in the form of a short interview:

1. What is your primary medium? And how do you combine photography and drawing?
For me the drawing is the main medium and probably it will stay forever the main one. Drawing fills the empty spaces of my soul (each time when it needs to be filled), it makes me happy and excited and I can be depressed or despaired when there are no results. I also love photography; it’s another way of expression.

2. Do you base your portraits on photo reference or models, or is it from thought?
Actually I find the resources for inspiration in almost everything and everywhere. First of all people around me and secondly faces from the photos, especially from old photo shoots. As I am a big movie admirer, I find interesting portraits also in film screens, books and so on and so on.

3. If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?
I would say “Hey you! Open up your eyes and see it, you are watching the pieces of one Georgian girl’s life.”
No, probably I would not say it to anybody, I would have it in my mind but say something very, very banal as usual…Maybe what I was feeling when drawing this or that portrait...
Strangers reaction and response is quite important for me.

4. When are you the most productive?
I am most productive probably when I am very busy. In addition I can be productive when I'm too tired, as Art is a cure.

5. Your message to Georgian female artists?
Firstly I can say to myself and then to all Georgian women artists to be more independent, courageous and creative to the maximum.


FLY AWAY by Sophia Cherkezishvili 2005©CAC

I was introduced first to Sophia Cherkezishvilis works through the Actual Art website. Sophos creations captured my attention and I immediately contacted Alexandra Gabunia from Actual Art and eventually got to Sophia, and posted her art on the Georgian Female Artist's blog.
Sophias diverse artwork is incredibly poetic and so I am very happy to share one of her most powerful videos "Fly Away". In addition, I conducted a short e-mail interview with Sopho to further enlighten us about herself and her art.

1. What was the working process on "Fly Away"? Can you run us through it from the planning of it till the editing?
First of all I had an image in my mind and just after while came the words, then the image in my mind started to move and it became like one painting which is moving and conveying all this text which is very important for me.

2. How do you balance between video, installation and painting?
Mostly I balance through the concept. For me it is much interesting to work in different forms and media, even though the process is so different.

3. How would you explain the message of your film?
"Fly away" is little story of a women, a story that has no end. The symbolic point was probably that every woman wears her own dress like her own destin, and it is the most beautiful dress.

4. How you would describe video art in Georgia and which tendencies are recognizable?
I can not answer this question. Personally I feel that if art is good, then it is good, if not…it's not, and it's the same in Georgia.

5. What has been inspiring for you lately?
Life, life and again life!


"Protect me" by Sophia Cherkezishvili. 2003

Dropped again by Alexandra


"New collection" by Maka Batiashvili

Dropped by Alexandra Matsatso Gabunia


Still life is life

Still life has a long, not always great but interesting history: from ancient Egyptian tombs and Roman wall paintings till expressionism and photorealism.

In the "Academic system" in Georgia still life seems to be the main subject; the study program constantly glorifies the artificial setting, the composition of three dimensional elements, harmony of dead objects and the symbolism in-between the landscape and occasional models.

One of my memories from the Nikoladze Art College is assembling the still life setting in the class. Us students had to bring different objects from home (mostly from the kitchen, to produce an allegorical atmosphere), set them in the middle of the class and draw and/or paint them within two weeks, in hopes of understanding the "composition" and the perspective between the different apples. Sometimes we had to find something do while we waited for Nely, our favorite model.

One of my classmates from college and a dear friend, Tamo (Tamar Botchorishvili from Tbilisi, who really helps me to keep this blog updated) put me in touch with two young and enthusiastic artists, Tutu and Tinatin; they are working in the art field and both of them have a tendency to work in oil painting techniques and still life iconography. I chose to show some of their still life works not just for nostalgic memories from Nikoladze, but of course to show their own talents. I hope that in the future we will show more works by Tutu and Tinatin.

Tutu Kiladze: "Once more still life"

Tinatin Chkhikvishvili: "Apples"

Tutu Kiladze (1980) and Tinatin Chkhikvishvili (1980) graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Art, department of fine art. They participate in different exhibitions in different galleries and exhibition halls in Tbilisi (Qarvasla, Artists' house, N-Gallery etc') and In 2003 they were part of the Art Villa Garikula (residence which promotes and hosts contemporary art, culture festivals and meetings in Kaspi region).