Saturday, August 11, 2012

Breaking and Entering: The Tbilisi State Academy of Arts

Note - this new series of posts follows Tbilisi's interior hidden treasures - entry halls, courtyards, and other secrets that can be accessed with a simple push of a door.

I'd always thought that the most beautiful entry-hall in Tbilisi was the ornate pink Moorish one in the building at the corner of Asatiani and Machabeli Street. However, an accidental wander into Tbilisi State Academy of Arts at 22 Griboedov St in Mtatsminda, a mad combination of William Morris wallpaper, gilded carvings, and a few stray stone lines, may cause me to revise that theory. As in most Tbilisi entry halls, nobody much seemed to mind (or much notice) our presence. Some of the more beautiful rooms (which I've found in online archives) are closed off - the entire building is poised to implode into ruins at any moment. But what's still accessible - palatial art-nouveau-meets-orientalist-fantasy - is among the most beautiful examples of architecture in Tbilisi.

(Note - I didn't have a camera when I went in - all photos are internet-sourced)

Historical information about the building - (sourced from the TSAA website). It was apparently designed as a palace in the nineteenth century by one G. Ivanov, before being restored in the twentieth by its owner, Nino Kobulashvili, to a design by Simon Kldashvili. In the late nineteenth century the building was known as "Tbilisi Club" - and was home to a number of amenities, among them libraries, billiard-rooms, and performance halls - only to become an arts school in 1922. An appeal for restoration funding - along with some stunning archival photos - can be found here.

Also notable - if slightly less sumptuous - is the Academy outpost at the Toidze Building, located at 21 Chonkadze Street, into which I wandered on a couple of previous occasions, and which is famous for having the most utterly dangerous-looking steampunk spiked chandelier I'd ever seen (and for being all-but abandoned and hence more prone to chandelier collapse than the Opera Garnier.)