Nikala@Nili, courtesy of Tea Nili
Georgian-German artistic exchange has a long and fruitful tradition. The exhibition “Begegnung an Pirosmanis Tisch (Meeting at Pirosmani Table)” that currently takes place at the Georgian State Museum Karvasla in Tbilisi is one of it's remarkable examples. Starting from 2006 the Georgian-German Society has been regularly organising artist-exchanges and exhibitions presenting to international art scene the rich artistic heritage of painter Nico Pirosmani.
The idea of a get together at a round table for discussing art comes from Pirosmani himself who is quoted to have once said: “...Let's build a big house, where we can meet... Let's buy a big table and a samowar and drink, a lot of tea, and talk about art...” This dream of free and spontaneous artistic exchange deeply rooted in Georgian culture, that assimilated the various cultural influences of the epoch, is being successfully realised by Georgian-German Society every two years and has inspired painters, photographers, sculptors and writers from various countries across Europe.
At the time when Pirosmani used to create his paintings Georgia was part of the Russian Empire, simultaneously influenced by Persian art. The quote expresses this extraordinary mixture of influences: Russian, European and oriental as well as Georgian folk art motives that are evident in Pirosmani's fascinating city scenes, picturesque landscapes and portraits. The extraordinary diversity, the spirit of the time when different cultures and traditions used to inspire and enrich artists with different cultural backgrounds is the basic principle of the contemporary “Meeting with Pirosmani”.
The project was conceived by the Berlin sculptor Hans Scheib and the Georgian painter Gocha Gulelauri. Within the project framework a group of invited artists travels across Georgia for twelve days visiting the major cities, countriside and the birth place of Pirosmani – the town of Mirzaani in the East of Georgia. A group exhibition of the participating artists takes place at the Georgian State Museum in Tbilisi accompanied with literary evenings, discussions, lectures, theater and film shows.
This year's "Meeting with Pirosmani'' hosts 15 Georgian and 30 foreign artists. The exhibition was on in November 2014 in two venues: the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery and the Ioseb Grishashvili Tbilisi History Museum. It showcases works by Georgian, German, Austrian, Swiss and Dutch artists. The exhibition offers an innovative artistic interpretation of Pirosmani's visual heritage in contemporary art, drawing parallels between photography, painting and contemporary Web 2.0 visual culture, very much like Tea Nili's photographic contribution entitled “Nikala@Nili” - an archetypal female raising a glass to the viewers meeting with Pirosmani. This old girl has some new tricks and everyone is welcome to rejoice and take a closer look.
The exhibition has been sponsored by the German Foreign Office, German Embassy in Georgia, Deutschen Bank, Goethe-Institute Tbilissi, Georgian National Museum and the Pirosmani-State Museum.