Tell us a bit about yourself.
- I was born in the city of Rustavi, I remember from my childhood that I was drawing. Maybe it was the influence of my parents, they were both artists, I was observing what they were doing, maybe I wanted to repeat it myself, they also really encouraged my sister and myself. We have kept all those naive pictures to this day.
When we moved to Greece, that was where we were truly exposed to the Western culture- be it Disney, anime or video games ... Video games had a big impact on me. I still see the influences in my work; The three-dimensional structure that video games have I think subconsciously always figures in my work.
When we returned to Georgia we had a little difficulty adapting. But my sister and I had something like a home studio, I was obsessed with drawing, I drew 10-15 drawings a day, which is quite a lot for a small child.
Then I became more intensely interested in tempera paints, my father worked with them and it was like alchemy for me – watching paints being made by mixing with egg with vinegar and different powders... I have used other paints too- watercolor, oil paints ... After some time, about 5 years ago I returned to tempera paints and recent paintings are all done with tempera and acrylic paints. So I think home education has had a huge impact on me.
The Center for Contemporary Art (CCA-Tbilisi) also played a big role in my practice, which was interesting in that it gave us a lot of freedom in the theoretical or practical part, to work in different materials; It was also important that we worked in small groups and there was a sense of collective activity.
Although I'm very critical of the Tbilisi State Academy of the Fine Arts (I graduated with a bachelor's degree from the faculty of architecture), I think I still got a lot of inspiration there. I started making three-dimensional works based on my education there, I tried to transform classic architectural models into minimalist videos where I created a sense of space.
I recently graduated with a master’s degree in fine arts (KASK & CONSERVATORIUM School of Arts Ghent). Every student had to be asigned to a department and I wanted to be in the graphics department because drawing plays a big role in my creativity. But I suppose my final work fits more into the category of media art.
Studying abroad is very important experience, because you meet a lot of new people with completely different histories, sources of inspiration and spheres of interest and this information, knowledge and experiences are shared with you.
Do you remember the moment when you decided to become an artist?
- To tell you the truth, there was no such moment, I came to this decision naturally. If I had chosen another profession, it would have been a more surprising and radical decision for me. Even with architecture, I approached it as a part of art practice, and not as a separate field.
-How did you find your visual language?
-When I started doing the installations I was working more freely, I think I was experimenting more, I was also working with the sound, making sound to my own videos. Every installation was so different, one could not even imagine if it was by the same artist. Lately and quite naturally, I came to set limits on what media I’d focus on and work in. Drawings and paintings come to the fore but in reality, I do not even exhibit them separately, but always in a combination with sculpture and installation; Organic and inorganic materials are repeated here as well; Often the forms that are in the painting are reappear in digital work and everything echoes with one another.
Actually, my first solo show was What if you were in my garden (in collaboration with Gallery 4710 and The Why Not Gallery). I used to take part in group exhibitions, where it is easier to miss the artist's signature style. And the solo exhibition showed what I do and how I work.
-That exhibition happened after you returned from Belgium, I think those experiences played a big role in shaping your visual language. Do you agree with that?
- I agree with you, because I had a lot of freedom there, and an easy access to studios, e.g. Pottery and iron workshops, print room, IT room - where I could work on large files without any problems. The big problem here is that neither students nor artists have access to such infrastructure, of course then one is very limited in how their creative process develops.
In CGI artworks I like that it is so compact. Working in a workshop today is very difficult, in terms of time and finances, while working in computer graphics gives you the freedom - if you do not have access to materials, you can do the work digitally, you always have access to a laptop. I like this freedom and sense of infinite possibilities.
Now all the different phases in your art are combined together, as if the story telling that was present before, be it architecture, fantasy, subject matter of landscapes, these narratives are given different shapes, showing the same story in two dimensions.
-Painting is the most recent medium you work in, you came to the art scene with CGI works- video, sound, installation, where multimedia works were integrated ... Then you started working in more traditional media – painting and clay, now you seem to be returning to the digital media. Are you more motivated by your old inspirations or by the fact that digital art is becoming trendier?
-I am not interested in trends, I just like the visual language. When something becomes trendy, it has a bigger impact probably because it is more available. But I did not go back because it was a good time to switch to digital, it’s just so interesting and so diverse, at this point I am attracted to the limitless possibilities.
-What is the subject matter in your work? Do your works have narratives?
-If I look at older works, even in exhibitions, the whole focus is on space, relationship with space, limitation or creation of space ... Imaginary spaces are repeated in painting, fantasticc and realistic objects merge with one another. Even on this exhibition, you wanted to focus more on paintings, but I could not rule out working with space so much that I even introduced sculptural objects that would connect everything to each other. I create microcosms in all my exhibitions, in reality it is not an attempt to create scenery, it is just an attempt to revive the elements that are repeated in the works. This is because I'm interested in presenting the objects in different dimensions.
I use tempera in paintings, which is a traditional material and is used in fresco painting. I think that two-dimensional paintings are so ingrained in the culture here, they have such a long history ... I am interested in an ornament on frescoes that no longer moves into three dimensions, does not turn into a sculpture. Especially plants, which are always in the background, are decorative, serve as an ornament. I began to observe what impact this culture has on mentality, that nature can be in the background and not be important.
The aesthetics of my plants are distinctive, these are not cute plants, they are sharper, fiery plants ... these objects and models already hold some position, do not meet expectations - although it is not forced and artificial, I am not going against of what is expected of me on purpose.
It could also be read as a protest against this narrow-minded attitude towards painting and the color palette, that it should be gentle and pleasant; the medium is so diverse and you have so much freedom in how to express yourself. At some point, a piece of me repeats itself in these works, there is some element with which I identify myself in this environment. But I leave the message open for the viewer to have their associations. I do not know how much they manage to do so or how acceptable it is for them, but I want these circumstances to be created.