Contemporary Art in Georgia

Art Scene in Georgia
(Brief guide)


The history of Georgian contemporary art starts from the 1980-90s – epoch of crisis, in the grim realities of a new political-cultural system, forming as a result of breaking up of the Soviet Union. From the moment of activating of the national movement, till the announcement of independence and also afterwards the main problem in cultural process develops around the identity issue and Georgian artists also search their place in the local and international sphere. During this search process, it is important to consider traditions, which was developed as a result of the XX century Georgian modernists’ short time active movement and also, accelerated re-understanding of international processes, which was missed during the soviet isolation.


In 1970-80s Georgian artists’ minority already launched a search for their own ways beyond the soviet art requirements. Thus, an interest for abstract and conceptual art sparked. Though, the process was illegal, it still caused a huge interest from the public minority and young artists. At that time creating “non-soviet” art more looked like a political activity and defined political position, as it was in the case of AvtoVarazi, Alexandre Bandzeladze, Otar Chkhartishvili or Temo Japaridze. Later, the following generation started to use number of actual practices for personal context, and this generation started to participate in international projects and presented personal works in foreign galleries. Internationally established artists – Gia Edzgveradze, Luka lasareishvili, Iliko Zautashvili, Gia Rigvava are among them.


From 90s interest in new technologies and postmodernism mediums is significantly growing, however, this process in not accompanied by the research and reflection – that partly prevents this sphere from development. At that period was published Carlo Kacharava’s critical articie “Why there is no Georgia”, – where the artist discusses the problems due to the Georgian art is not on the map of international art…


Freeing information flow and opening boundaries have brought many opportunities for Georgian contemporary art. However, the problem of existence of space for permanent exposition of Georgian contemporary art still remains, that finally have proved the quality of the artworks, created in the last period and have shown some dynamics. Without such kind of collection it is very difficult to explain to the public, what kind of processes are taking place in Georgian contemporary art, and what is the relation between the artworks and existing context, what is the main factor in defining their meaning in the culture. Though, generally, despite the absence of supporting cultural institutions, Georgian contemporary art is quite rich enough and fresh enough with young emerging artists. Galleries in Tbilisi are actively exhibiting artists, who established themselves in 1980-90s thus defining the history of art in Georgia. many of them can be distinguished with individuality. Among them are: Oleg Timchenko, Mamuka Tsetskhladze, LiaShvelidze, Mamuka Japharidze, Vakho Bughadze,Kotesulaberidze, MurtazShvelidze etc… Gia Gugushvili, Koka Tskhediani, Ushangi Khuramashvili, Giorgi Ugulava, Lana Tsagareishvili are working in abstract painting. In this period Zura Afkhazashvili’s black and white series drew significant attention. In 2013 the project “Heritage”, which was exhibited in the National Museum of Art, presented TatoAkhalkatsishvili, Levan Mindiashvili, Uta Bekaia, Irakli Bughiani, – conceptual artists, who have great skills in using space and different artistic mediums. On the other hand, on the scene of Georgian contemporary art stay artists who are known as neo-romantics, during 1970-80s they presented new versions of rethinking history – among them are – Gia Bughadze, Levan Chogoshvili.


In Georgian exhibitions occasionally participate Georgian artists who live and work abroad: KokaRamishvili, Lado Pochkhua, Sopo Tabatadze, Giogi Okropiridze etc…


Of course it would be difficult to give a complete analysis of the art scene of Georgia in a couple of pages, though the main trends still can be distinguished.


Here the growing popularity of photography should be mentioned. We can definitely say, that in the last decade, the photography has developed pretty well in Georgia, and this process has resulted in a series of a successful photo projects. Among the conceptual artists, famous for their photo-projects are GuramTsibakhashvili, NatelaGrigalashvili, Ana Gujabidze, ZurabArabidze, Ana Lortkipanidze etc…


Georgian history of contemporary art is often defined as a “transition period”, which consists of the changes, which took place from the break of the Soviet regime to the start of the newly formed state. Accordingly, given background defines cultural process, however, today, visual art does not define itself only with local problems, when during the soviet regime, there were many pressures and forbidden forms to overcome.


Today, contemporary art in Georgia develops together with international processes and reflects the same problems.


Khatuna Khabuliani
Art critic