Monday, December 02, 2013

EXHIBITION: Georgian Contemporary Art on the Vilnius Summit (

( Georgian art world is also getting ready for the Vilnius summit; Gala Gallery, sponsored by the Georgian Ministry of Culture will present the Georgian Contemporary art to the wider European audience. Gala gallery belongs to the list of the few Georgian galleries who pay attention to the concept and context of their exhibitions. The series of Kote Sulaberidze, Vakho Bughadze and Murtaz Shvelidze take the central stage in the exposition curated by Dedika Bulia and Vato Tsereteli for the Kalnas gallery, Vilnius.

Dedika Bulia: ‘All three of the painters closely cooperate with the gallery and we have accomplished many projects together. All of them are the generation of 90s. These painters share the European value system and their art reflects their pro-European orientation, but at the same time do not lose their distinctiveness.’ Gala gallery is the first to have Georgian artan opportunity to present themselves to the European audience. The owner of the gallery and the author of the concept for the exhibition, Dedika Bulia claims to aim at presenting the good quality Georgian art and those artists, who strive for producing art of European standards.

The last two exhibitions - Jump by Murtaz Shvelidze and Vakho Bughadze’s Asprovalta are the two shows that the Lithuanian team have seen while visiting Georgia, consequently choosing the Gala gallery. The Jump is a series of 13 canvases. The 12 of them, dramatically cropped portray different people in various settings fixing their shoelaces. It is fascinating to see the shoes composing portraits of people. However, the point is that individuals regardless their social standing or the lifestyle, still create artificial problems and restrictions for themselves. The series culminates in a large canvas named Jump. The girl is portrayed in the process of jumping; as the other canvases, the depicted angle is unusual- her dress and legs floating in the air are the focus. The blue sky, green grass, thin dress create careless mood- such a contrast to the tight sneakers and uncomfortable shoes. This is the freedom, all of us have a potential of that we resist for no reason.

Asprovalta by Vakho Bughadze drastically differs from Murtaz Shvelidze's lively, almost toxic colours, however, it fits in perfectly in the gloomy palette of the painter. The focus of the series is the abandoned houses and homeless dogs, which echo many social problems of today. The faintly defined high-rise buildings translate the grey feel the city has attained; the windows indicated by grey rectangles hint on the non-existent life behind them; the dog alike figures on the foreground are destined for solitude. All of this is engulfed into pinkish mist, revealing a hint of hope that keeps these creatures alive. According to the painter these series reveal the memories from the past: the life he had been living and the unclear world, a desire or waiting for change and novelty.

The Sky-24 hours by Kote Sulaberidze has been exhibited in the Gala gallery while hosting the Artisterium V. The fragment from the painting is used as a poster for the exhibition. It is quite common for the artist to compose an artwork from multiple canvases; the Sky-24 Hours is made of 24 standard sized canvases, illustrating the sky and objects flying across it on different times of a day. Sometimes this is an airplane, angels or bombs, birds and strippers. Kote Sulaberidze: ' the Sky- 24 hours is a metaphor for life. Everything happens under the sky. All of us live under the sky. The bombs fall from the sky and the almighty God is also in the sky. Sometimes it rains and at times the warm sun is shining. This contrast makes it captivating and mysteriously beautiful.' Kote Sulaberidze is always modest when he has to talk about his art. His oeuvre reflects the lyricism, enthusiasm and inexhaustible optimism of the artist. His very aesthetic art never loses the humoristic touch, even when referring to some of the most acute social problems.

Kote Jincharadze has presented an installation System of Coordination- IV dimension. ‘The installation places Georgia on the geopolitical system of coordinates of the world.The ¾ of the coordinate system are the spaces reflected in the mirror, creating intersections of the trajectories- a kind of crossroad. The vectors of 4 different colours personifying countries, cross each other corresponding to the political interests and relations of these countries.

Red- Russia
Blue- West (Europe, USA)
Green- East (Asia)
Yellow- China

The mirror offers audience the visual trajectory of Georgia’s positioning and development. Each of the spectators can choose a rectangle and place it on the surface of the mirror, therefore, stating their opinion about the aspirations of Georgia.’ According to the artist this is the visualization of the value system. The interactive artwork is a kind of sociological research, when the audience reflected in the mirror record their opinion and the desirable future for Georgia. As Kote says every time he puts up the installation, the blue squares are always winning indicating the pro-European orientation of the Georgian society.

The Constructive Dialogue by Oleg Timchenko is about the newest history of Georgia, which exceeded the locality and became world news, namely the August war of 2008. Timchenko has summarised the provoking reasons, his attitude and the aftermath mood in the video collage. 'A fragment is taken from the film-ballet Othello. The flags of USA and Russia are inserted as the background. The most tragic fragment from the dance of Vakhtang Chabukiani, personifies Georgia. It is not accidental that this is the most dramatic, culminating moment in the ballet. The pain and the feeling of despair that the dancer has masterly translated is identified with the state of Georgia.' It was vital for the exposition presented on the summit to include the politics, especially the August war.

Vato Tsereteli curates Video Art section demanded by the Lithuanian side. Vato, artist himself is a head of CCA. The Center for Contemporary Art besides hosting some very interesting exhibitions takes students for a non-formal MA program. CCA provides the vital knowledge and freedom to the future artists that academy of fine arts in Tbilisi lacks. The artist sees the center as one of his artworks. 'I find it forced to discuss the contemporary art; art does not need specifying whether it is contemporary or not. What makes art contemporary is its relation to reality and time it is created in.’

Vato during his stay in Vilnius has to deliver a public lecture. 'It will concern the creative and art practices that are little known or defined, at least in Georgia. For example, we have an educational program, which in itself is an artistic product. I would like to talk about creativity not in terms of producing art, but other processes, for example creativity in the educational system. My lecture will be about the new territories in art. Our center is an exciting synthesis of the educational and exhibition practices, which in itself is an accidental discovery and has a promising perspective. Everyone is creative, but the artist is ingenious by profession, therefore, I think they should use this and it should exceed the gallery space and integrate into other spheres. For example we have a course of art and eco-farming; this is not about Land Art or exhibiting vegetables in a museum space, but about incorporating the capabilities and being productive into that domain.

Georgian society itself is marginalised and it is not the fault of people. I think this is a deeply traumatised society as a consequence of the Soviet Union and the following, 20 years; but we have agreed that this has to change. The society has to develop itself, has to awaken the sense of responsibility and desire to participate for us to form into a democratic country. Education plays the key role that's why we have the programs and courses. In my opinion contextual knowledge is vital, any human being needs to know and realise the context they wake up to, I mean awakening to the consciousness; when you do not have a clue about the reality you live in, the geo-political environment, historical and cultural heritage, you are not adequate; hence, the anachronistic moments in art as well as life. Art that is based on imagination has the ability to help the people lacking it. Koka Ramishvili has noticed that there is no science fiction genre in Post-Soviet countries, because this part of the brain, responsible for creative thinking is dumbed out. Art has the ability to activate it, so that people recognize their potential. This might prove crucial.'-Vato Tsereteli.

For the exposition Down Up Vato Tsereteli has chosen videos the Drawing Lesson, 2001 by Koka Ramishvili, Eye Trees,2003 Mamuka Japharidze and the Gripes, 2012 by Nino Sekhniashvili.

Vato Tsereteli: 'I have selected the artworks and not the artists. These videos are referential because of their complexity and visual quality. It is personal too; these are the artists I closely cooperate with. They relate to the exhibition contextually rather than thematically. The people living between the West and Georgia have produced these videos. Therefore, they seem to unite the two realities. The intensity and the accumulated energy of these works were the main attraction for me.'

Koka Ramishvili reverses the process of drawing and the video begins with the sketch being erased. The deconstructed painting stays in the memory. Therefore, art becomes writing, the drawing becomes a notebook; the story of an individual isolated from his usual habitat is written as a result. Ramishvili has created the Drawing Lesson after moving to Geneva. This video has marked the return to image that the artist had abandoned for 10 years. Koka Ramishvili:' back then this video went against the conventional video art production. I was creating something radical and eccentric. This was the biography I was writing with the drawn pictures. The sketches themselves were of quite low quality because my focus was the montage. I have created a sculpture in a virtual space, at that stage I was exploring compression and decompression. It was important for me to show the prohibited in the West, I wanted to portray the manual labor.' It is fascinating to observe Ramishvili opposing the drawing, as the traditional medium to the innovatory video; the two seemingly incomprehensible media create the art that highlights the craftsmanship in drawing. The soundtrack, the sound of lead pencil scratching the paper points to the acoustic side of the job. Employing the montage the artist breaks the central myth of the documentary and objective nature of video.

Nino Sekhniashvili is a very interesting conceptual artist. The Nectar Gallery is one of her projects in the Georgian Art scene. The expositions always manage to surprise the audience with the unlikely emphases. This is the only gallery that hosts the risky and alternative art, like the recent exhibition of Kutaisi and Tskaltubo artists.

The video Gripes was created while living in Zurich. 'In the Finnegan’s Wake there is an episode from Aesop's fable the Fox and the Grapes. Joyce customizes this with the different language, actually, no language at all. I have put the text onto the recording in the foam plastic factory- the huge objects were floating defying the gravity laws. At the time when I lived in Zurich on scholarship, I was attending the readings in the James Joyce society, which were quite comical for me, as they sounded delirious; therefore, I decided to work on the text. Gibberish is very important to me, as I often find myself incapable of expressing my thoughts.'- says Nino Sekhniashvili.

In Mamuka Japharidze’s video the trees resemble the human faces with the help of optical illusions. The mysterious feel of the video plays with the imagination of the spectator and lets them decide the narration and culmination for themselves. Mamuka Japharidze is the artist who has directed his creative potential into farming and has an Art farm in Shindisi, where he combines art and eco-farming; he also tries to engage the students and reads the lectures about soft farming to them.

The exhibition Down Up opened on the 20th of November, Vilnius,Lithuania, Gallery Kalnas and will last for a month. 

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