Wednesday, June 03, 2009

EXHIBITION: Picasso Comes to Georgia. By Rusudan Gvazava (

“Picasso” in Georgia, an exhibition of the works of Pablo Picasso, the great Spanish painter of the 20th century, opened in the city of Sighnaghi in the Kakheti region on May 30. The exhibition is organised by the Georgian National Museum and General Council of the Department of Yonne in France.

The Picasso works will be exhibited for 3 months in Sighnaghi, Tbilisi and Batumi. They will be in Sighnaghi from 30 May to 23 June, at the Art Museum in Tbilisi from 28 June to 2 August and in the Adjaran Art Museum in Batumi from 8 August to 6 September.

A complementary exhibition of Niko Pirosmani’s paintings was held at the Zervo Museum in the city of Vézelay in France in February, 2008. It was the Pirosmani exhibition which brought Picasso to Georgia.

General Director of the National Museum of Georgia Davit Lortkipanidze explained that it would be impossible to hold this exhibition in Georgia if the country did not have spaces such as the Sighnaghi Museum and if the French museum had not exhibited Pirosmani’s paintings, Georgian gold artefacts and other Georgian cultural treasures. Lortkipanidze added that he and the President of the General Council of the Yonne Department had signed a cooperation agreement which provided for the exchange of Picasso and Pirosmani exhibitions in February, 2008.

He further explained that being asked to host this scale of project means that Georgia has already gained international trust and this creates the conditions for Georgia to be part of the international cultural exchange system. “What is most important is that we are not only exporting but also importing, and we also include in the exhibition an educational programme for all visitors, especially children,” he commented.

Lortkipanidze said that the National Museum of Georgia is the home of both universal art and education. He added that the project will make a strong contribution to public education and also the country’s economy. The Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport, Tbilisi City Hall, the Kakheti regional administration, Bank Republic and the Adjaran Culture and Education Ministry are actively involvedas partners in the project.

34 linogravures are on display, most of them made in 1962, “But we also have 3 in other media and some graphics from the thirties of the last century,” explained Daniel Perroy, Director of the Cultural Department of the Yonne Department General Council. He added that the items brought to Georgia were collected by him; “I have brought the ones I liked most and which I consider the most valuable,” he commented. He said that Pirosmani’s exhibition had had great resonance in France.

Picasso and Pirosmani never met each other, but Picasso knew Pirosmani’s art very well. “In 1969, when Pirosmani was exhibited for the first time at the Louvre in Paris, Picasso saw his paintings,” explained Irina Arsenishvili, arts specialist and Head Curator of the National Museum of Georgia. She added that Illia Zdanevich, who was also from Georgia, a famous avant-garde artist and a friend of Picasso, produced a book about Pirosmani with a calf cover. “Zdanevich asked Picasso to do a portrait of Pirosmani for the book,” she said. He did so, and the Tbilisi museum has the original.

The exhibition was attended by a huge number of people, including Sighnaghi residents, invited guests, media representatives, Government representatives and tourists. Most of them were very glad to see original Picassos and commented that they would never have believed that such an exhibition would be held in Georgia.

2009 has been declared the Year of Picasso and his works will be exhibited at museums all over the world.

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