Patara Gallery in Tbilisi Underground Hosts Exhibition of Croatian Visual Artist

On September 4, Patara Gallery and presented Tea Stražicic’s exhibition named "At the Mercy of Your Saliva." The gallery was opened in November 2017 in the underground walkway near Rose Revolution Square in Tbilisi and since then it has been actively operating and hosting various exhibitions, presentations and events. The gallery is called Patara (small) because of its size, yet it does not pose an obstacle for the curators and artists to bring their ideas to life and deliver inspiring displays.

GEORGIA TODAY attended the opening of the exhibition and talked to the curator and artist. Co-founder of Patara gallery and curator Gvantsa Jishkariani talked to us about the exhibition, the gallery and their plans.

“Patara gallery was opened in November 2017, and since then we have held around 15 exhibitions,” she told us. “At least two events are held every month in our gallery. Except for the very first exhibition, all the artists presented in our venue are selected through an open-call competition, something which is unprecedented in Georgia. Our gallery’s primary principle is not to put restrictions on the artists, and we give them the freedom to present their works the way they want and develop from the experience. Most of our displays have been solo exhibitions, but we’ve also hosted presentations and music evenings. We also cooperate with, which finances all the exhibitions in this venue. In exchange, they receive one piece of artwork from the artists for their contemporary art archive,” Jishkariani said.

The venue is both interesting and appealing, since it is located in an underground walkway and attracts one’s attention when passing by. It is the first exhibition space in Georgia to be located in a pedestrian walkway.

“Originally, this walkway had bad associations- some people were afraid to use it, or could not stand the awful smell. So it was a big risk to set up a venue here, but it worked out well and now it has become a more functional and pleasant public place. The most important thing is how the people who work in the underground walkway perceive this venue and how it influences them. Many of them express curiosity and say they enjoy passing by and checking out what is inside. So it really means a lot to us. Another important feature is that it’s not only a gallery, but a window shop as well, so even if it’s closed, passersby can still see what’s inside,” she said.

The exhibition named "At the Mercy of Your Saliva” exposes a creature filled with sadness. The spectator not only sees the character, who resembles a character from a video game, but can feel the pain that lingers in the space. Stražicic’s work is atmospheric, making spectators a part of her installation, who feel it through smell, temperature and special illumination.

Tea Stražicic is a visual artist and graphic designer from Croatia who usually works in digital art and creates animations. This time she decided to experiment and bring to life a video game creature.

An animation director at Adriatic Animation studio and artist at SwS collective, she actively works in the digital medium. Under the alias @flufflord, she posts a variety of strange hybrid content between fashion and fantasy RPG, while her illustration blog @beefycakegastronaut is more focused on graphic storytelling.

“I think she is really a great artist, that’s why I contacted her and offered her the chance to apply to exhibit here,” the curator said, going on to emphasize the importance of organizing such exhibitions and having such artists invited to Georgia who work on different themes and use different tools.

“This year, Patara Gallery will be part of the Frankfurt Book Fair, so we will be organizing a parallel exhibition there similar to this one, but in a different form. Part of the show will be video documentation and part will be artworks. The exhibition in Tbilisi will last until September 24 and right away it will be followed by another artist, who is Georgian. From the first day of opening, the gallery has hosted back-to-back exhibitions and we have scheduled exhibitions right up until year-end. That said, the space is also open for one-day events, presentations and expositions, so anyone is welcome to propose their ideas,” she explained.

We asked the artist for her impressions about the country and to give us some insight into her work.

“Even though it’s my first time in Georgia, the environment is really familiar to me, it feels almost like a home,” Stražicic told us. “I’ve been to many places but this city is really fascinating: I’ve rarely seen such beautiful architecture. I am impressed by the Georgian script too, it is so beautiful, it’s like an art. I traveled a lot and moved a lot. Now I’m based in Zagreb but am planning to move to Berlin. I do film and digital art, music industry videos, detailed photo realistic digital art and experiment in different mediums. Over the past two years, I’ve been working to bring back the fantasy world we liked when we were teenagers and to extract some memories from what was popular in the media as well as from different music genres, like black metal. All my past exhibitions were titled Black Metal but with this exhibition I decided to experiment and create something cute but also terrifying. This character releases its sadness in the form of slime that resembles tears. I wanted to combine the huge amount of feelings I had in my imagination as a teenager when picturing this monster. I’m really happy with the result. I first created the sketch in digital form and when I arrived here I used industrial foam and other materials to complete the sculpture. I also brought some stones from the town on the coast where I’m from and painted them. I did the wall drawings on location over two days. I’ve been interested in this gallery since its first exhibition, so I was happy to propose my project to the team. I would love to come back to Georgia for another project as well as to travel,” she said.

By Lika Chigladze

06 September 2018 19:02