68projects is pleased to present a group exhibition of seven artists currently living and working in Tbilisi, Georgia. The exhibition is comprised of cultural fragments and addresses new narratives constructed in the young artists’ work. Georgia has always been somewhat exoticised throughout the history starting from Ancient Greeks and up to the 20th century travelers’ accounts. What others have said and opined about the country is collected in Georgian textbooks and was taught to generations. The artists presented in this exhibition are telling stories from their own perspective. They represent the generation that may have started the process of creating and telling their own stories, similar to Demna Gvasalia’s SS19 Paris show.
These 21st century Georgian artists choose their cultural and visual references via Internet, via computer screen, accessing the information beyond physical borders and discovering other ways of seeing and doing things. For them, everything is available at once, on the screen, with no time evolution as explained in art history, neither following traditional canons of good and bad. Although, they’re drawing inspiration from their immediate environment and the work is less disconnected from the local tradition as it seems at a first glance.
The title of the exhibition refers to Nino Kvrivishvili’s eponymous piece from the exhibition. Nino Kvrivishvili makes handwoven wool tapestries that resemble large-scale paintings. Before the advent of textile industry rugs have been woven in almost all regions of Georgia. The story behind the wool, the material, she used to make the piece is a testament to the real life story: the artist bought a piece of an old rug from a Tushetian shepherd who was selling it to buy Nabadi (kind of felt winter coat shepherds wear in the mountains). In return, Nino Kvrivishvili bought the wool from the shepherd and weaved the story with abstract elements in her carpet. The hand woven tapestry with black carpet abstract details as well as artists’ name and date of its completion tell the history of its creation.
Tezi Gabunia’s Breaking News: Flooding of the Louvre is fake news that could be true. Natural disaster increasingly linked to the climate change has arrived to the museum of Louvre, which responds to the flooding of Paris in 2018. The artist uses the Louvre model from his previous series of work, Put Your Head into Gallery, where the viewers placed their heads in the models of famous museum galleries that the artist has re-constructed in his studio. By flooding the model that is his own artwork Gabunia addresses the issue of cultural leftover and recycling. The flooding of the Louvre Museum speaks about news culture and our fluctuating perception of disasters as seen through media. The piece is accompanied with a video titled Breaking News. The video shows how the water slowly flows into the room of the Louvre, letting the viewer gradually watch the destruction of its interior. The effect is convincing, threatening and fake.
Tamar Nadiradze constantly draws inspiration from her environment and people, though, above all else, as the artist claimed in a recent interview she considers herself the main source of inspiration. The artist’s works are based on real life stories that are transformed into fairy-tale-like watercolor drawings and collages. They can be compared to children’s picture books and/or folktale illustrations. Tamar Nadiradze addresses the issues of urban life, pop culture, social behavior, ecology and human rights but as she puts them through the prism of her vision the result is curious, surprising and a bit disturbing.
Levan Chelidze paints an eclectic mix of portraits - of both people and animals – still lives, and landscapes of the Georgian region of Racha. In the era when almost everyone has a camera in his/her phone, and many artists use photos as the basis for their portraits, Chelidze still takes a traditional approach and requires his subjects to sit and pose. He is a master at capturing their essential features. But he also plays with perceptions, by setting their ‘real’ form, as he sees it, against imaginary backgrounds. What his subjects wear in his paintings - or sometimes don’t wear - similarly come from Chelidze’s fantasies, and not necessarily from reality. The subjects of his paintings are typically beautiful, sexy and noble. He paints people that he admires. Chelidze’s portraits can seem unfinished, and sometimes that is the reality. If one of his subjects is unable to return for another sitting, that’s it - he finishes the portrait at that point and paints the background instead. It gives his works a disarming honesty, making them more emotionally free, and less formal.
Giorgi Qochiashvili’s imaginary landscapes and interiors are often inhabited with dark skinned people. Born in Gagra, Abkhazia, breakaway region of Georgia, Qochiashvili’s family fled the war in the region soon after his birth. His tropical landscapes are based on his family’s photos and his grandfather’s nostalgia for the lost home in Gagra. As a former rugby player Qochiashvili has traveled to South Africa and has identified local nature and people of South Africa to his native Abkhazia, which he was never allowed to visit. The result is the surreal dreaminess and coloring of his paintings.
Unexpected combinations of concrete, wood flooring tiles, knitting threads and textiles result in dramatic contrasts between the image and the materials Salome Chigilashvili uses to make them. The artist quite literally weaves patterns and designs of traditional South Caucasian carpets into floorboards. Her Untitled, (2019) presented in the exhibition is an embroidered brown paper with white thread. Saul Anton wrote about Chigilashvili that “her use of the technique creates an understated, 21st century poor man’s modernism… Her work is indicative of Georgia’s present situation, as a country full of young people looking to the future, but possessing an ancient history and culture they cannot escape.”
The exhibition also includes Andro Eradze’s photographs from Fireworks series that depict a colorful explosion in a night sky. Photographs are framed in wood and their “protecting” glass is broken, as if the noisy fireworks are erupting from the image. By shuddering the glass Andro Eradze transforms his photos from mere image to wall sculptures or art objects and the effect is mesmerizing.