Blind Georgian Artist Paints from Memory

On June 14, on the Day of Protection of Persons with Disabilities, under the aegis of the associations ‘The Future Starts Today’ and ‘Woman, Child and Social Environment,’ TBC Gallery opened the rare exhibition of blind painter Giorgi Kobelashvili titled ‘A Universe Seen by Eye and Mind.’     

Allegedly a unique exhibition for Georgia and a rarity on a global scale, you should make sure not to miss the stunning paintings, mainly on the theme of Old Tbilisi and literary passages, among them a portrait of one celebrity – Jessica Lange.

The works of the second stage of the painter’s life, after losing his eyesight, are done in acrylic black and white. Surprisingly enough, they do not lack in topical spectrum or color in an indirect sense of the word – here is a very imposing series of animals from which I would particularly point out ‘Aurochs;’ there are religious motifs, as well as a number of lovely sketches named ‘Woman in the Garden’ and ‘Piano,’ and more.  

The exhibition is being held with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection. “I cannot help but admire these works. I want to thank the artist and all involved parties who gave us the chance to contribute to this exhibition. I want to call on everyone to come and see these paintings. Both the public and private sector should work to support such exhibitions in future, too,” said Minister of Culture, Mikheil Giorgadze.

Maka Chichua, the First Lady of Georgia, who is a painter by profession, was also an honorary guest at the opening. “I have no idea where the painter found the energy to carry on. This is a sign of how strongly he loves his profession. In his early paintings, it can be well seen what a nice painter Giorgi is, however, if one asked me, I would say that the paintings of the second period are more impressive. They are more emotional, energetic and sensitive. This is one of those most wonderful days when we, Georgians, stand together and it should be encouraged!” she said.    

GEORGIA TODAY spoke to Giorgi Kobelashvili, professional painter.  “I’m thrilled to have a solo exhibition. All the paintings express my emotions. I believe that an artist must be multicolored and try out different media. The artist is first and foremost seen in pencil and, as such, I believe that works done in acrylic are the most impressive, as they are painted in one blow. No one should lose hope, no matter what happens. God will show him/her the way to self-expression, as all of us have some form of talent.”     

Tea Lejhava, CSR and Internal Communication Senior Manager of TBC Bank, told GEORGIA TODAY: “Considering the fact that TBC has imposed a high level of social responsibility, this is a very important exhibition for us. The author created 20 paintings while he could see and the remaining 40 after he lost his sight. This is his first solo exposition and we have also published his catalogue.”

“It is an internationally recognized practice that after a person loses their eyesight, there is a whole system waiting to help them re-learn the skills of walking, reading, writing, using a computer, doing housework, etc.,” said Marina Mamulia, Head of the Rehabilitation of Blind People under the association ‘The Future Starts Today.’ “Our aim is to make blind people independent. The Georgian state authorities cannot provide such services at present but I live in hope that our government will soon allocate the necessary expenses and energy so that the blind are no longer seen as burdens on society. In fact, Georgia is obliged to make the changes, having chosen a European course.”   

GEORGIA TODAY also talked to Giorgi Markozashvili, painter, co-organizer and Giorgi Kobelashvili’s teacher. “Both of the exhibited periods [from the artist’s life] are important in their own way, but the most recent series of animals come from the fantastical sphere. The painter’s academic background has served him well- he remembers a human being’s form in order to create a portrait, the shape of a bicycle, aurochs, etc, and with the help of memory and inspiration, he has acheived this splendid result.”  

The event was made even more beautiful by the classical pieces played live on piano by blind girls.

The exhibition proves once again that there are no boundaries for anyone, and no disabilities as far as humans are concerned.

The exhibition will close on Friday, June 17, at TBC Gallery (TBC Bank HQ, Marjanishvili Metro).    

By Maka Lomadze

Photo: Gia Abdaladze 
15 June 2016 15:51