Explore the Humble Talent Who Respects Mistakes in Art

Alexander Berdysheff, whose works are currently being exhibited in Tbilisi, is in his early 50s, an experienced artist whose background is in graphic design.

Berdysheff’s creative use of colors makes his style instantly recognizable, his works having been exhibited at galleries and exhibitions in the UK, Austria, Germany, Azerbaijan, Russia and, last year, the USA. This humble painter from Georgia recently participated in the esteemed Art Basel Miami international art fair.

“It gave me a lot in terms of professional experience. It takes place annually. It was a cultural shock, I’d never been to an event like it, but it was a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to participate thanks to some personal contacts,” the artist says.

Berdysheff’s international success story began in Scotland. Depressed by the political and economic instability of Georgia and the art market in his homeland, the painter was invited by friends to move to Edinburgh. The artist admits that this was where he was recognized as a painter. The British East-West Journal wrote an article with the headline “Georgian painter makes impact in Scotland”, a testament to his success. However, he later returned home and continued working in Georgia.

As with all big painters, he does not like to be qualified as a follower of one concrete genre. “I like experiments. I make series, too. The series represented here is more pop-art, in the vain of Jasper Johns. I get inspired by traveling, as it is a basis for new forms and colors. Also, my personal changes of belief about life impact my works.”

Alexander Berdysheff was one of the first painters of his generation to escape the turmoil of post-Soviet Georgia, and believes this is why he is so open-minded - a real artist who does not have any concrete aims, never obsessed whether this or that picture will be sold or not. Alex fully dedicates himself to the creative process, but claims the noisy atmosphere of the city can damage his inspiration.

“On leaving the city, I become instantly revived in nature. I fully agree with Tchaikovsky’s expression that muses do not visit the lazy. My inspiration comes in the process of working. A painting has its own energetic charge, and painting is an interactive process. I respect mistakes in painting very much, as it gives birth to a totally different painting. I am not an artisan who knows everything, the perfectionist type for whom mistakes constitute failure. For a creative person, mistakes should be welcome.”

GEORGIA TODAY enquired about the artistic taste of Georgians, whether it is getting more exquisite. Berdysheff says: “I am glad that among the buyers of my paintings there are more and more youngsters, which gives me hope. As for artists, I am happy there are ever more young illustrators.”

Berdysheff adds that he was very much inspired by surrealists, though he thinks that all artistic directions are crucial, and he has been influenced by the classical period such as Rembrandt. “Primeval cave art is also very important for me, as strong symbols,” he adds.

GEORGIA TODAY also spoke to David Gerrard, the former Chairman of the Chartered Society of Designers in Scotland who first visited Georgia in 1987 and recently attended Berdysheff’s exhibition in Tbilisi. Years ago, his Georgian counterparts invited him to Georgia. They decided to exchange students to make bilateral links tighter, which was when he first met Berdysheff. It was the very first art student exchange, but Georgia’s conflicts of the 1990s put a stop to the practice.

However, in 1997, he and the British Council organized Berdysheff’s solo exhibition during the Edinburgh Festival. “Georgian students went to four art schools and then worked in design offices of Scotland. Alex lived with us. During this time, I did six exhibitions of his work. I’ve always liked what he does. He has changed very much. His Georgian roots are very important, but his work can be favourably compared with artists of all nationalities.”

Berdysheff’s exhibition ‘Edges’ is on at the Vanda Gallery from May 20 to June 6, at Chonkadze 14, Sololaki. The gallery is open daily with free admission.

Maka Lomadze

02 June 2016 20:08