Friday, August 3, 2012

LINK: Petre Otskheli at the National Gallery

I've put the blog ever so slightly on the back burner over the past month, in part because I've been working on a number of Tbilisi-related travel articles for additional publications. The first of these extra-blog projects - a review of the Petre Otskheli retrospective at the National Gallery over at Kunstpedia - has hit the press:

Staging Alienation: Petre Otskheli at Tbilisi's National Gallery

For the ill-starred heroes of Greek tragedy, the life of the individual was a study in alienation: the self, whether Oedipus or Antigone, forever caught in the meaningless machinations of quibbling deities or subdued by the incomprehensible decrees of Fate. So too for one of Georgia's greatest modernists, Petre Otskheli (1907-37), the theatrical wunderkind whose creative partnership with Kote Marjanishvili, director of the avant-garde Marjanishvili Theatre, was cut short by the terrors of Stalin’s Great Purges. Otskheli’s phantasmagoric collection of stage sets and costume designs, currently on display through September 7 at Tbilisi's National Gallery, suggest an equally grim picture of the plight of man. Trapped in increasingly geometric worlds of sharp angles and collapsing shapes, dwarfed by swaths of fabric that grotesque distort the body's silhouette, Otshkheli's characters, from the battered Othello to the imperious Beatrice Cenci, contend with a surreal landscape that is at once profoundly Classical and, in its nods to Art Deco and expressionism, thoroughly twentieth-century.

The blog will return to full functionality in the coming weeks, with profiles of the new Best Cafe to Write a Novel in Tbilisi (following the heartbreaking closures of Near Opera, Caravan, and Tashkent), a full retraction of anything bad I might ever have said about Batumi (since restored to fin de siecle glory as a result of some long-overdue renovations), and profiles of Svaneti and Khevsureti - the latter perhaps the most beautiful place in Georgia.

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