Friday, June 1, 2012

Inspiration of the Day: Merab Abramishvili

Every now and then, I come across a piece of art - be it a painting, a piece of music, or a novel - that resonates with me so strongly that all my pseudo-critical, academic, footnoting, jargonizing, enframing bullshit breaks down, and there is nothing I can say but "yes."

The exhibit of the paintings of late-Soviet artist Merab Abramishvili, located at a gallery in Mtatsminda, was once such exhibition. I came across the paintings at the insistence of my (marvelously!) mad friend M., a tweed-sporting composer-poet-displaced-intellectual-extraordinaire living in Bolnisi while embarking upon any number of great artistic-poetic-cultural projects to bring about a new Romantic age in the Caucasus via a shaky Internet connection. Because M., in addition to being mad, is also usually right, I succumbed to his insistence that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the works of an oft-forgotten Soviet artist, whitewashed in the wake of the drive towards a New Georgia. (M. has requested that I point out that Abramishvili is "the greatest artist since Raphael")

Some holy combination of Pompeiian fresco, Indian tapestry, and Medieval illumination, Abramishvili's paintings restore the holy mystery of the world. Freely intertwining Indian motifs with Christian iconography, they suggest a primal unity in which the world is not some formless chaos of meaning, but is rather  "charged with the grandeur of God". I actually went twice (doubling back for the programme catalog) - many of the paintings belong to the Abramishvili family, and are hence (tragically) no longer publicly viewable. (Which is entirely heartbreaking; I'm half-tempted to track them down, sending them a pleading email to allow me to gaze upon beauty bare for an hour a week a teatime...)

I've noticed the prevalence of genuinely good, engaging contemporary art in the Caucasus over the past few years. It tends to be far more willing to engage with history - breaking rules consciously rather than as a Shoreditch-gallery gimmick - than the contemporary UK/S art I've seen, and is far better crafted to boot.

If anyone knows of any good exhibitions on in Tbilisi, do let me know - I haven't seen a bad one yet

1 comment:

nona orbach said...
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