Erarta Museum presented an exhibition by masters of the contemporary Georgian painting — a real-life theatre offering an intimate glance at the country in the present
An insider view of Georgia far removed from the glossy imagery from travel brochures
A kaleidoscope of sensations and metaphors
Artworks by Ilya Balavadze, Mikhail Balavadze, Merab Surviladze, Temo Dzhavakhi, and Koka Tskhvediani
Georgia has traditionally held a special place in Russian life and culture: many of us, even those who never crossed the Caucasus ridge, feel a kind of nostalgic yearning for this land. For obvious reasons, artistic ties between our countries have recently seen a dramatic and upsetting decline. This small exhibition at Erarta Museum is a true window on Georgia, a rare chance to get a feel of what the country is like today. This is not an outsider view: we see no mountainous landscapes, no sea, no dancing, no churches, no steam baths, no wine or tea — none of the iconic, glossy imagery from travel brochures designed to lure in tourists. Phantasmagorias offer an intimate glance at what is happening in Georgia right here and right now, a better understanding of the mindset of urbanites living in a time of change. Despite their at times visionary quality, most of the scenes pictured might have just as well taken place in real life.
Many of the artworks featured in the show are cinematic in quality, like eye-catching stills allowing one to recognise the movie or guess its possible ending. This film is free from anguish, frenzy, or despair, simply showing the steady flow of life. More a carnival than a drama, this real-life theatre lumps it all together: feasts and wrangles of the Georgian nouveau riches, people sporting Venetian carnival masks, ballerinas and lovers, houses shrouded in the morning mist, and shadows of leaves on the sidewalk. The artists have distinctive ways of conveying the realities and irrealities of modern-day Georgia, yielding a kaleidoscope of sensations, a carousel of events, a carnival of metaphors.
The exhibition showcases the works by five Tbilisi-born artists: Ilya Balavadze, Mikhail Balavadze, Merab Surviladze, Temo Dzhavakhi, and Koka Tskhvediani. Each of the artists featured here has his own trademark style, vision, and area of artistic introspection. Meaningfully complementing each other, they give the viewers an insight into the great variety of the Georgian art of today.