Mariam Saknelashvili | Oli's interviews
Author : Oli Kvateladze

Tell us how a French philology student became interested in art?


Since I was a child, I spent most of my time at home, so I wanted to use that period for some creative activity. I was trying to devote my free time to the handicrafts, I was looking at different ideas and I was wondering if I would come up with one. I was drawing, sculpting, modelling in clay, I wanted to try out everything, regardless the final result. The more time I spent in this world of mine, the closer and more enjoyable it became to me.

What materials do you use to create artworks?

At first, I used to draw with a pen, then scanned the work and coloured it in Digital, then my interests grew, I thought it was not enough, and so I started working in acrylic paints on wood. I had pieces of old parquet during the quarantine, I thought, what will happen if I try?! One turned out fine, then I tried again and realized it was a good working method. Then I ran out of the pieces of wood and switched to cardboard, I finally tried watercolour paint and now I think it fits my style the best.

When did you become interested in medieval painting?

During the pandemic I started to use social networks rationally, in the modern era everything is much simpler, I wanted to expand my horizons, during this period I came across many important pages I joined and found new topics there. Fascinated by medieval iconography, I found a connection and liked the characters involved in the story, even though I watched the torture scenes, happiness still came from them, as if it had to happen, and the confluence of such conflicting feelings impressed me a lot.

What do you think distinguishes your signature painting style?

I do not think my style is distinctive, moreover, it is completely ordinary to me. Every person has their own inner world that is different from others, perhaps this sets them apart in both their style and working methods.

What is the inspiration of your work?

The source of inspiration is what I am fascinated with in that moment, be it a classic picture or a biblical story. I especially like the biblical parables, where different interesting stories unfold; then I improvise. My works let me know if the composition is missing anything or is complete. Sometimes, I incorporate objects I am surrounded with, or the moments I’ve caught, but I try to put it all in a perfect harmony with one another. I want this wholeness to be of an aesthetic beauty, as well as tell an interesting story.

What causes the work to be unemotional in your opinion?

It probably depends more on the artist’s instinct, I rely on mine to decide if the work is complete or not. In other mediums, such as writing, where I have less intuition, I find paper is irritated by excessive emotions and becomes too technical, as if you are doing it simply to give it a finished look, as if it were a homework you do not want to do. What emotion could you put into a homework or a company assignment for mayonnaise advertising?! It is as if you hate it and want to do something else instead. I still think emotions can be read through any work of art, be it negative or positive, it shows artist’s attitude, wether it an assignment to get rid of or a kind of meditation.

When you start working, do you know what the final result is going to be?

I have works that were easy to create, as if done with one stroke of the hand. However, if I have a specific purpose in mind, then I go over te composition in my head for several times, as if it needs fermenting. I attach great importance to every detail; even technical nuances matter, how to distribute the composition so that the plot is flowing, how to choose the colours to keep the artwork alive. Then comes a moment when I realize it is all ready and it’s time to start realizing the work, however many things change during the working process and the whole story might suddenly change.

What does your emotional state have to do with the work?

When I'm particularly ill or feeling lonely, creative work is my salvation. In past, if I was working on something melancholic and stopped, I thought the only way I could return to the work was when I fell in the same state of mind, as if those emotions were the creative fuel that enaled me to work. Ut through time it turned out that creating a work no longer needed emotional fuel from me.

The artist you were fascinated with and how do you think it influenced your creativity?

At the age of 14-15 I discovered Jean-Michel Basquiat, I came across Andy Warhol, at the same time I was fascinated by Liechtenstein and pop culture in on the whole, I watched a lot of documentaries, I think their working process and attitude had a great impact on me.


Mariam Saknelashvili (born 2002, Tbilisi) is a young self-taught artist who has been studying at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Faculty of French Philology since 2020.

Oli Kvateladze (born 1997, Tbilisi) is a young art historic. Since 2017 she has been studying at Shota Rustaveli State University of Theater and Film. The focus of his research is contemporary Georgian art. She is also interested in researching art institutions and has completed an internship at the Tbilisi Museums Association. Today Ollie is an intern at our gallery.


Mariam's artworks available at our gallery: