Discussions about Niko Pirosmani at National Gallery
27 December, 2012
Discussions about Niko Pirosmani at National Gallery
On December 22, National Gallery gave room to an interesting meeting and screening of distinguished Georgian cinema director Giorgi Shengelaia’s documentary film about remarkable Georgian self-taught painter Niko Pirosmanashvili, better known as Pirosmani. The screening was followed by an exhaustive discussion chaired by Giorgi Shengelaia. Grigol Robakidze, great Georgian writer and poet, who immigratied as an opponent of the Soviet Rule, assessed Niko Pirosmani’s works in the following way: “This is the art of a child.” This was the leitmotif
of the meeting. Giorgi Shengelaia, author of such movies as a musical “Vera District Melodies”, a comedie“Everybody Needs Love”, dramas “Khareba and Gogia”, “Alaverdoba”, etc, was particularly interested in the painter’s life and works, as he made two films – a feature ad a documentary – with the same title: “Pirosmani” .
Nikala was a real child – so delicate and tender. As Giorgi Shengelaia noted, everyone is born as tabula rasa and it depends what each of us will write on our own blackboards. But this was the rare case when Pirosmani remained as poor and clean and untouched by the world’s dirt and dust as a newly born baby and this is his characteristic feature as an artist too. “He is often referred to as a representative of primitivism, but I will say that he managed to remain a child to the very end of his life and this is what makes his works so candid and natural. It is his uniqueness that a child inside him never left him. It makes him a genius. He can be compared to Giotto who began to paint in the caves. However, when Giotto reached his professional peak, he turned into a big creator of religious art. There the progress was evident. But with Pirosmani, there was no progress, which made him unique,“ Shengelaia said. Even during his periods of drinking bouts, no regress was manifested. It is a common opinion that no progress and no regress happened to Nikala. He was steady in his works as an artist. However, the film director pointed out that he was not immobile as a child – Pirosmani was a steady reader and he liked three Georgian great writers -Rustaveli, Vajha-Pshavela and Ilia Chavchavadze. His film also tells us that Pirosmani liked animals and called them his friends. It is impossible not to be touched by the affection that is seen in his works of a family of deers, a bear, a lion and a giraffe, which he had never seen.
Pirosmani was a deep believer too, as Shengelaia emphasized. He used to say that St. George was always with him, sometimes consoling him and sometimes giving him no peace by inspiring him to paint and paint unceasingly. This was the main motive power of his talent – a voice telling him “Paint, Nikala, Paint’. (By the way, this and other scenes are made very picturesquely and very impressively in the feature film ‘Pirosmani’, where the painter Avto varazi plays his role quite affably.) He would listen to this suggestion, as painting was his only credo and motto of living. He never had family. Once, a group of renowned Georgian painters offered him to join them and paint according to the commonly adopted rules, but he refused. Pirosmani’s idea was to build a special house, buy a table, a samovar, get together, drink tea and speak about art. Similarly, his works stand out due to the different aspect – they tell stories, they’re not just pictures. He was a real legend an sometimes it is difficult to distinguish myths and reality regarding his biography.
Niko Pirosman justly occupies a honorary place next to such renowned names as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, etc. He appeared in Georgian art as a painter-reformer. He is viewed as a founder of a new artistic epoch.
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