Saturday, February 16, 2013

CULTURE: Georgia Celebrates 150th Anniversary Of Niko Pirosmani. By Ketevan Charkhalashvili (

( National Museum hosts the exhibition of paintings of Niko Pirosmani and documentaries dedicated to the 150th anniversary of great Georgian painter. Actually there is controversy over his birth date, as well as almost every point of his life. As writer Giorgi Kakabadze says, life of Niko Piroemani is not researched well and every information about him is based on rumors and controversial information. 

“Even professional writers who knew Pirosmani, don’t offer exact information as their tales are full of fantasies,” says Giorgi Kakabadze.

Nevertheless, year 2012 was officially named the 150th anniversary of Niko Pirosmani in Georgia and UNESCO marked this year as the year of Pirosmani.

Eka Kiknadze, coordinator of the exhibition: “UNESCO created a logo dedicated to Pirosmani in Georgian and English languages; it marks every event connected with the writer and published editionions about Pirosmani during the year.”

The exhibition is unique because out of 148 paintings of Pirosmani that are kept at the National Museum, 107 pieces are displayed at the exhibition. It’s the first time when the viewers can see almost entire collection of the painter’s works. Also there are presented unique documentaries and photos that are related to the life and art of Pirosmani. Altogether, Pirosmani occupies 5 halls of the National Museum along with the paintings of his contemporary painters of the 20th century such as David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Dimitri Shevardnadze, Kiril Zdanevich and others.

“This exhibition proves that Pirosmani was an important part of the epoch of European Modernism and that Georgia and Georgian painters were involved in that process,” art historian Eka Kiknadze said.

Nearly 200 paintings of Pirosmani are known world over. Most of them are kept in Georgia at the National Museum and Dimitri Shevardnadze has great merit for purchasing Pirosmani’s paintings for the Georgian Museum. Other Paintings are kept at private collections and museums in Georgia and outside the country. “This exhibition is very interesting because I saw paintings I didn’t know before. It’s very good that a big part of paintings from the funds of the National Museum are displayed, but there are works kept at private collections and only narrow circle of acquaintances of the family have seen it,” writer and researcher of Pirosmani’s life Giorgi Kakabadze said to Georgian Journal.

The exhibition includes photos form the collection of Dimitry Ermakov. There are more than 35000 negatives in his collection, including photos taken by different authors and by himself as well. These photos depict the life of Tbilisi in the beginning of the 20th century and things and places depicted in Niko Porsmani’s paintings. 

Pirosmani’s paintings are unique and can’t be identified as belonging to any of art schools or styles. His manner of depicting nature, people, animals have comprehensive importance and are unique pieces of art.

GJ – Why it happened so that Pirosmani’s life is rather unknown and can we blame for historical developments and the fact that communists took over the country soon after Pirosmani’s death?
Giorgi Kakabadze:
We can blame communist regime in Piromani’s life being full of hazy moments. As soon as Georgia became part of Soviet Union trace of Pirosmani in Tbilisi began to disappear. There were buildings where Pirosmani lived or painted but subways and embankments took these places. Even Pirosmani museum is depiction of soviet attitude to Pirosmani. The painter actually didn’t live under stairs. In fact Pirosmani lived in a cellar of this museum which is closed and full of garbage unfortunately.”

Buildings where Pirosmani met famous Georgian painter Lado Gudiashvili, great Georgian writer and poet Vazha Pshavela disappeared. “Even now there are houses and items used by Pirosmani that needs to be bought and kept, and it is very important but there is still nonchalance towards Niko Pirosmani. We don’t have a greater person who crossed borders of Georgia and made its name known worldwide, even Ilia Chavchavadze’s name did not go out of Georgia so widely. Pirosmani is one of the greatest names not only in Georgia but in the whole world and it should be appreciated properly.”

GJ – What do you mean exactly and what more can be done in this direction?
Giorgi Kakabadze:
– I think, this question refers to to Ministry of Culture which is inactive. When we want Pirosmani to promote Georgia world over, we use his mane and his works but he is still underappreciated in Georgia. He deserves his private museum dedicated only to his works. And every trace of him that our city still keeps, should be unearthed and preserved with great care.”

Along with the exhibition, art historians and writers who investigate Pirosmani’s life - Dimitri Tumanishvili, Gogi Khoshtaria, Giorgi Kakabadze and others – delivered related lectures.

Gogi Khoshtaria, art historian: “Pirosmani is one of the greatest names in Georgia history that stands side by side with big names of the world of art. We are not famous by producing cars or having advanced technologies; we have great persons who left their names in the history and culture and Pirosmani is one of them.”

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