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Why the Art-Set Needs to Travel To Georgia Now
Tbilisi is transforming into a buzzing hotspot for discovering new names in contemporary art...
News 05 Jun 2018

Summer is a perfect time to visit Georgia, a post-Soviet country that has recently become the trendiest destination of the New East. Traditionally associated with delicious food, genial locals and techno parties that would put Berlin to shame, Georgia refuses to be moulded by them. Right before our eyes Tbilisi is transforming into a buzzing hotspot for discovering new names in contemporary art. In the fledgeling local contemporary art market galleries are only starting to emerge and artists feel complete freedom, yet the world has already turned its eyes to Georgia and its culture, which gives Tbilisi a chance to become a new hub for collectors, curators and contemporary art enthusiasts. Art dealer Tamuna Arshba who has been introducing international audiences to Georgian artists through participating in art fairs all over the world, invites everyone to visit Tbilisi.


Tamuna Arshba, co-founder of ERTI Gallery, has told us what’s happening in contemporary art in Tbilisi and why she decided to open a gallery there.

How did you come up with the idea to open a gallery?

It happened gradually… For two years we had been conducting market research, introducing Georgian artists at international art fairs, and generally putting our feelers out. We discovered that there was a demand, and decided to open a gallery –  right here, in Tbilisi, – and produce relevant and compelling shows, invite curators from all over the world, collaborate with different museums and art institutions and continue to participate in high-profile contemporary art fairs.

Still, why Tbilisi?

We were often asked: ‘Why open a gallery in Tbilisi? Who is going to buy?’ Only a year ago such ambitions were considered nothing short of fanaticism. We aim to create the best conditions for development and fulfilment for our artists. A new generation of artists has emerged in Georgia, there is a new show on every week and public interest in art has been growing by the day.

How do you select artists for the gallery?

Natia (Gallery co-founder) and I always pick new artists together, discuss strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming shows. In every show there is something new and important, something that highlights the relevance of this exhibition in this particular moment in time. For example, Tato Akhalkatsishvili made his first large neon and mirror installation in our gallery. Uta Bekaia’s Superhumans has been the gallery’s greatest video performance project to date. When choosing artists I can go on and on about techniques, artist’s medium, relevance of their concepts, etc. However, at the end of the day what’s most important is whether you like their works or not. If you doubt the works you showcase, this whole enterprise won’t be successful.

And now name 8 reasons why The Art Gorgeous readers have to book their tickets to Georgia right now.

  1. ERTI Gallery: immerse yourself in the latest Georgian contemporary art. Gallery’s current show is Levan Songulashvili’s multimedia show “STYX” curated by Berlin based art critic Mark Gisbourne. Exhibition consists of large scale paintings, big scale video sculpture “System of Objects” and an installation in the lanscape.
  2. Tbilisi Art Fair: first held in May 2018, and already a major success. Next year looks even more promising, so you should definitely put this art fair in your diary!
  3. Ria Keburia residency
  4. Tato Akhalkatsishvili studio: look around and listen to the artist talking about his works in the cosy atmosphere of his studio.

  5. Daro Sulakauri studio: visiting Daro is pure indulgence of the senses, as his studio is located in a historical building that belongs to Georgian cultural heritage. Daro is a photojournalist and documentary photographer whose work explores social issues in Georgia.

  6. Kunsthalle Tbilisi: it’s not a fixed spot, but a travelling project that puts on exhibitions in various locations. In May they launched a collaboration with Protocinema showing video installations of the Australian artist Angelica Mesiti. It’s on until 14 July.
  7. Annual electronic music festival 4GB. It’s what makes Tbilisi worth visiting! It takes place in May too.
  8. In Georgia food is considered an art form. And here I must stress the role of our acclaimed chef Tekuna Gachechiladze who has invented Georgian Fusion style by adding new components to the traditional local dishes, and put Georgian cuisine on the international map. Her menu is available at many restaurants, but I recommend Cafe Littera at the Writer’s House of Georgia. Or you could check it out at Lolita – another super comfy, trendy, fun and, most importantly, delicious place!

Text by Aleksandr Blanar
Photos via Tamuna Arshba, ERTI Gallery

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