Georgian art has grown along with the development of the Georgian statehood, starting from the ancient kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia. The location of Georgia on the crossroads of Asia and Europe has brought travelers, merchants, missionaries and conquerors of all kinds and creeds, and defined the country’s cultural and artistic environment throughout its history. Georgian art tradition has thus experienced influences from Mesopotamian, Anatolian, Greek, Persian, Roman and Byzantine art throughout antiquity.
Notable Georgian artists are: Niko Pirosmani, David Kakabadze, Petre Otskheli, Elene Akhvlediani, Irakli Parjiani, Vera Paghava, Lado Gudiashvili and others.
Niko Pirosmani was born in 1862, he lived his whole life in extreme poverty and had to paint the walls and signboards of local restaurants for living. Pirosmani’s paintings mostly depict Georgian festive occasions, peasants, merchants, he liked to paint animals just like children do. Impressed by Niko’s paintings, Pablo Picasso painted his portrait.
The portrait perfectly well reflects the geniality of Pirosmani’s primitivism. After seeing Pirosmani’s paintings, one can easily understand what Picasso meant when saying “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child’’.
Before there was Marvel and Pixar, Georgia had Petre Otskheli. Born in 1907, he created the completely untapped new world of scientific superheroes and monumental constructivism. Despite his short life, Otskheli left an invaluable influence on theatre stage production and many of his sketches for theatre became masterpieces of graphic arts. You can almost hear the characters of his paintings speaking, you can feel the depth of their voices and predict the sophistication of their movement. Being a brave innovator had a high cost in Soviet Georgia. 30 years old artist was arrested and shot on trumped-up charges of treason in Moscow.