‘I can only draw and paint things that fill my heart completely’ – Rusudan Petviashvili
09 October, 2014
‘I can only draw and paint things that fill my heart completely’ – Rusudan Petviashvili
Rusudan Petviashvili, a world famous Georgian artist, began painting at tender age of two and had her first exhibition at the age of 6. By the time she was 8, she had her paintings on display in Moscow. When she turned 13, she had an exhibition in Paris. This was followed by numerous exhibitions in Austria, Hungary, Spain, UK and USA. Editions of “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin” and “Georgian Folk Fairy Tales” were released with her illustrations. The
beautiful gospel displayed at Sameba Cathedral was also painted by her. She is included in a book published by Cambridge’s Biographical Center named 2,000 Outstanding People of the 20th century.
The painter talked to us about the secret of her success and how she plans to work with the French luxury fashion house, Hermes.


– Let me tell you how this idea appeared initially: a Parisian wife of a Turkish ambassador used to be a frequent guest at my workshop. She always told me that my paintings were exactly the kind that Hermes would be interested in. She kept reprimanding me for visiting Paris often and not contacting Hermes. Then everything happened by accident: my husband’s Parisian friend organized a formal reception and held it on a ship. It was an amazing evening, complete with a ship anchored on the Seine, a Georgian flag waving and with Georgian cuisine and wine served on the deck. A representative of Hermes was attending as well, along with his wife. He had seen catalogs of my paintings, so he talked to me and then arranged a meeting with the head designer of Hermes a few days later… They have everything planned eight years in advance there.
I was told that my paintings are very beautiful and that everyone likes that peculiar style and world of mine. If I created something special for them, they would place me at the head of the queue, despite having their schedule planned eight years in advance. We don’t have any obligations to each other; this is a simple friendly request. Almost two years have passed since and I am still waiting for the mood that should come to me naturally. If I create something, it should be so powerful that no one would be able to find a single fault with it… When you are making something, be it a book cover, a painting or anything else, you must be fully attuned to it mentally.

– You were invited to work on a gospel by Georgia’s Patriarch… What kind of mood was required for that?

– The gospel is a manuscript located in Sameba Cathedral; its creation took 10 years. It is the biggest handwritten gospel in the world. It was written on calfskin originally and was rewritten by many monks before it took its current shape. When the Patriarch blessed me for this work, my mood was just right. It was a post-civil war period and I was too tired to be interested in anything. The only thing I read back then was the Bible, the gospel and Apostle Paul’s epistoles, which I knew almost by heart. In that period, my closest friend was a nun – Mother Tebronia. I went to the Patriarchy to meet her and that’s where I encountered His Holiness. He told me that work on the handwritten gospel was still underway and asked if I wanted to take part in this epic deed. (He had visited my exhibition twice before that.) He said that I could start my work right away and that this [the Patriarchy] was my home and I could live there if I wanted to. These were the most precious words that I’ve ever heard in my life.
I worked there day and night. In fact, I barely did anything else for three years: I didn’t read anything or draw anything that wasn’t related to this grand undertaking. In the morning I attended sermons to feel more connected to the world I was drawing. Usually it is the monks who work on the gospel, but I was neither a monk nor a nun, so I needed to completely switch my mood. I tried to do this as hard as I could; it was a tipping point for me. Upon finishing this work, I felt rejuvenated. By the end of the third year of work, His Holiness asked me to create an art group that would help me finish the job; it was taking too long otherwise. The group I brought together consisted of 10 people. We finished working on the gospel in 2000. It is now kept at Sameba Cathedral.
Thus, all things considered, I can only draw and paint things that fill my heart completely. This is why I am waiting for the right mood - for a strong desire to work on the scarf for Hermes, in which I’ll put my heart and soul… It must absolutely happen because I want to work with Hermes a lot.

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