Iconic Georgian artist’s grave in Germany in danger of disappearing
31 March, 2016
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Shalva Kikodze is one of the 19th-20th century Georgian geniuses, whose contribution to Georgia and its culture is beyond price. Yet sadly the great artist’s grave that is located in Germany is in danger of being disappeared and consequently requires an urgent reaction both from Georgian society and the government. “Only the time can judge and appreciate an artist - these are the famous words of the painter whose life turned out to be very short and tragic. Shalva Kikodze passed away very young ,at the age of 27, far away from his homeland, in Freiburg, Germany, on November 7, 1921. He was an expressionist painter, graphic artist and theatre decorator who stood out for his individuality, unique painting style and technique. Together with other famous Georgian painters Lado Gudiashvili and David Kakabadze, he is considered a key figure in Georgian art of the early 20th century. Luckily the artist left a rich legacy of his bold and progressive artworks that clearly reflected Georgia, its traditions, lifestyle and reality back then.
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According to his cousin Geronti Kikodze, a politician and writer, Shalva started drawing the same time he started talking. Unfortunately, at the age of 3, his nanny accidently dropped him and as a result the kid seriously injured his right hand. Due to this reason Shalva had to continue drawing with his left hand during his entire life. It should be mentioned that besides his artistic career, Shalva was quite active in other sphere as well. During his early years he translated Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes from Russian into Georgian and even decorated it with his illustrations. In 1912 he also made illustrations for the Georgian fable brought together by Petre Mirianashvili and published under the title Amirani (Georgian Prometheus). It is noteworthy that the Society of Spreading Literacy in Georgia financed his studies in Moscow where he studied law, but simultaneously exerted himself in arts as well. Painter failed the exam two times, yet he did not give up and on his third try he enrolled in the art academy.

He used to work as a stenographer for Georgian theatres and cooperated with satire and theatrical journals, namely “Eshmakis Matrakhi” (Devil’s Whip), “Theater and Life” and many others. Apart from creating illustrations and cartoons, he wrote perfect reviews on theatrical performances too.

In Paris Shalva Kikodze strived to acquire the different artistic movements typical to that period as well as develop national traditions along with his counterparts Lado Gudiashvili and Davit Kakabadze.
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“I feel good if I don’t take into consideration the lack of money. I have too much expenditure. It’s very cold in my room. My nose and feet are completely frozen, as well as my chimney …even the ideas should be freezing here”, - the artist wrote in his letters while his stay in Paris.

The artworks of all three iconic Georgian painters mentioned above were exhibited at prestigious galleries in Paris two times. This is how Shalva evaluated the exhibition of Georgian painters abroad: “The paintings should reflect Georgia. They should show Georgia to the viewers who have not heard about it before”.

Shalva Kikodze and Davit Kakabadze playing chess in Paris
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Even though the artist used to live and work abroad for a long period, his heart always strived to his homeland. Shalva was extremely affected by the Soviet Russia’s annexation of Georgia in 1921 that can be seen from his letters, where he expresses his deep pain and grief. Soon the young artist was diagnosed with tuberculosis and went to Germany to cure himself from the illness. It is noteworthy that no one knew about his illness, except prominent painter Davit Kakabadze. “I never thought that this will happen to me”, he used to write to Davit in his letters.
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Unfortunately the medical treatment did not work and the great person and artist fell victim to his illness. His grave is still in Germany, yet there is a high chance that soon it will be lost. If we don’t take proper action today and transfer the remains of this iconic person, then it will be too late to regret.

Author: Lika Chigladze

Adjarian woman

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Luxembourg Garden in Paris
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