Georgian Pavilion at the 52 Venice Biennale
Thanks to Sophia Tabatadze

Georgian Pavilion at the 52 Venice Biennale


PRESS PREVIEW: 6-7-8-9 June 2007 – Opening hours: 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: 10thJune – 21st November 2007 – Opening hours: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm (closed on Tuesdays)
VENUE: Arsenale, Campo della Tana, Castello 2126/A
ORGANISER: Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sport of Georgia –
ORGANISER IN VENICE: Arte Communications –
CURATORS: Nino Tchogoshvili, Tamara Lortkifanidze
COMMISSIONERS: Paolo De Grandis, Manana Muskhelishvili, Zviad Mchedlishvili
ARTISTS: Eteri Chkadua, Tamara Kvesitadze with co-authors Paata Sanaia and Zura Gugulashvili, Sophia Tabatadze

The Georgian pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition in Venice presents projects and works which appear largely different from each other. It is not only artistic taste and world outlook that distinguishes the featured artists, but also a range of modern and traditional means and media they use in their works. The art of Georgia, a country located on the border between Europe and Asia, and at the cross-roads of occidental and oriental cultures, has always been remarkable for its diversity and originality. Rooted in local traditions, Georgian art has also benefited at different times from a range of foreign, namely west European, Byzantine, oriental, avant-garde and social- realistic styles and movements. Georgian fine art of the 20th century was closely linked to the political and social processes unfolding in the country. In the first quarter of the 20th century, Georgian art developed in line with contemporary avant-garde trends and styles. Moreover, several Georgian artists worked with celebrated avant-garde artists in the world’s art centers of the time. Following World War I, a large number of renowned modernist artists from Russia headed for Tbilisi. The city thus turned into a hub of modernism. However, the isolation from the western world, as well as censorship and repression practiced by the Soviet regime, defined the specific nature of the trend along which Georgian culture had to develop. The late 20th century, characterized by political transformations and opening of borders, provided opportunities for renewed cultural exchange and cooperation. However, this process, which is still underway, is also associated with difficulties. Contemporary Georgian art is trying to establish itself on the world map of art. The Georgian artistic community has certainly become much more ‘open’ than it has been in previous decades. Globalization and mobility have enabled more intense connections with the western world. It is notable that current national cultural policy pays increased attention to the promotion of contemporary Georgian art. Analysis of the past, revision of values, search for and adoption of new forms and media, frequent instances of blind imitation, along with the desire to maintain local values, traditions and aesthetics and build contemporary art on these premises are evident. The venue in which Georgian art has been developing is right in the centre of the Caucasus region, in which a large number of nations and ethnic groups with ancient cultures have co-existed throughout the millennia.
The political and social situation in the region is complex and tense. Contemporary artists naturally respond differently to the social, political and cultural processes unfolding in their country, each depicting the aspect most vulnerable to him or her. The works represented at the exhibition are reflective only as part of the creative processes taking place in contemporary Georgian art.

Eteri Chkadua has been living in the US since 1980, when she left Georgia. The artist remains faithful to traditional artistic means, painting her medium and large realistic figures on canvas by using brush and paints in a manner which largely relies on the experience of a generation of earlier artists and which was taught to her at the Georgian Academy of Fine Arts. Eteri Chkadua, who is keen on traveling, creates a hybrid of New-York, Jamaican, Miami and Georgian impressions. She portrays a woman’s world as seen by a woman – a multi-layered form with a polished surface beyond which one can read impulsiveness almost bordering with the primitive state. Hallucinatory perception echoes her emotions and impulses.
‘My image of a woman is simultaneously characterized by ethnical, pop-art, tourism and emigrant related elements. It has become universal as I made geography and time vanish’.

The RE-TURN project by Tamara Kvesitadze, with co-authors Paata Sanaia and Zura Gugulashvili, is composed of one installation and several mechanical figures. The materials used are fiberglass, metal and mechanisms. The mechanical figures represent the process of transformation in movement, which finds reflection on the surroundings they are placed in. The concept of the work is based on the correlation between the mechanical and organic.

‘Mechanical vs. organic
Organic nature of the mechanical 􀃆 orderliness of the organic 􀃆 mechanical nature of the orderliness’.
Sophia Tabatadze portrays the state of a human being with the use of architectural forms. Her interpretation of architecture goes beyond the primary meaning of the word. In her project titled ‘Humancon Undercon’, Tabatadze shows human traces in an urban environment that has become thoroughly inhuman. To underline this imbalance, she emphasizes certain details, leaving others uncompleted. She aims to show our inability to perceive things in their totality – a totality that includes space and time. It is this inability that lies behind our present condition of constant amnesia, in which we choose to overlook certain aspects of our collective past.
‘My work draws on the urban environment and the things that happen in it. In order to bring these happenings close to myself I process them through my own body by physically making work about it. By doing so I try to accept my surroundings in the period when their aesthetics and directions do not match with mine’.


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Project: Humancon Undercon


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Upcoming Events
*June 10 to November 21 – ‘Humancon Undercon’ Georgian Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, Italy
*May 26 onwards – ‘Let’s Drink to Love’ – video work at the exhibition ‘Progressive Nostalgia’ in ‘Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art’, Prato, Italy
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‘Buildings and Strangebuildings’, works 2002-07
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