First Impressions of Tbilisi Art Fair 2019


“Leave your worries; leave your everyday life outside this door. Relax and enjoy the show. It is open. The second edition of Tbilisi Art Fair is open” with these words Eric Schlosser, art director of the TAF, officially opened the Fair on 16 of May at the Exhibition Center Expo Georgia.

GEORGIA TODAY had the exclusive opportunity to be among the first to experience the artworks and explore the pavilions of the Tbilisi Art Fair 2019 at the Exhibition Center Expo Georgia. Here are some impressions and highlights.

In the Hall 11, the heart of the TAF 2019, all galleries participating in this year’s fair are represented. In open spaces the visitor has the possibility to stroll around and soak in the international vibe of the fair. Among Georgian galleries and artists there are galleries from France, Germany, Azerbaijan, Brussels, Spain and many other. But rather more important where the galleries come from is the plurality of concepts, materials and topics; all brought together in minimalistic spaces. The variety ranges from video art, photography, modern paintings, sculptures to performances.

The photo-series ‘Eclipse’ by Antoine d’Agata displays a collection of shots of female bodies, all taken in a strip club in Tbilisi. Naked bodies kept in their movements, so the observer just gets a fuzzy idea of the real bodies form. The mistiness leaves no doubt about the sensuality of these women’s bodies kept on a black background. The homogeneity of the photographs style gets disrupted through the different poses, which imparts individuality to each picture, breaking with the conformity of the first glance.

In the Hall 6 a group exhibition of four Georgian artists, called ‘Four Discourses’, gives a multifaceted approach of art in Georgia. The title is taken from Shota Bostanashvili’s poetic text ‘Four Discourses’, which “is not so much about water, fire, air and earth, but with water, fire, air and earth.” Just as antithetic as the four elements are the four exhibited artists in this pavilion: Shota Bostanashvili, Elena Chantladze, Thea Gvetadze and Elene Lukhutashvili. Elene Lukhutashvili’s ceramic mosaic-style pictures are capturing daily scenes of her life. Living in poverty with three kids and no husband, she couldn’t afford pencils and paints and started to collect different items like stones, broken vessels and so on; she started to make her mosaics with these reused objects. The nearly 90 year old woman is inseparable from her art and is building a hard contrast to a profit-oriented art market. “Here I am and here are my pictures. Do as you wish” she states unimpressed by the given attention of a camera team in a exhibited video interview. Elene Chantladze has a rather different approach to art. Among her topics you can find daily scenes wrapped in symbolic language but also politicized issues, for example paintings like ‘Goodbye Abkhazia’ or ‘The Fear is President of the U.S. Donald Trump’. Her paintings are all characterized through a rather free drawing and the moment of randomness when color and form creates a meaningful atmosphere. Shota Bostanashvili on the other side exhibits photography from soviet style buildings and architecture. The captured buildings, like the bread-factory close to Tbilisi Sea, are displayed as raw symbols and memories in the post-communist reality of the Georgian society. The fourth element of the exhibition is Thea Gvetadze’s figurative paintings working with clear lines and strong colors.

The gender issue, which is to be found as a central theme on the whole art fair, is culminating in the video installation ‘To Be a Woman’ by ten Azerbaijani contemporary artists of different generations. The project is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the liberation of the rights of Azerbaijani women. Azerbaijan as the first Muslim country, ahead of many European countries, acquired suffrage rights for women in 1918.The exhibition space, Hall 3, is all plunged in darkness with a variety of distracting sounds and moving pictures. In the first minutes the visitor has to find orientation in the dark space, walking through a chaos of impressions. You hear women’s stories, single sentences of the recitation of ‘vulgar poetry’: “I would eat your smell”, “Are you a whore or what?” or hollow converging sounds. It is a chaos, attracting the visitor’s sensual attention in all directions and nowhere. Moving in the room may make one sound silent but soaking you in a new one right away. It is hard to step out into ‘reality’ and find yourself still surrounded by the reverberant sounds and the question: “How to be a woman?”

Beside the exhibition space at the Expo Georgia the Tbilisi Art Fair includes a lot of talks, discussions, video-screenings, poetry readings and small exhibitions from 17 to 19 of May all over the city of Tbilisi. For more information find the webpage:

By Lisa Maier

Photo Source: Tbilisi Art Fair Facebook

17 May 2019 17:06