Niko Pirosmani’s Rebirth Through Picasso’s Paintbrush
27 March, 2015
“Niko Pirosmani’s graphic portrait painted by Pablo Picasso in 1972 has been exhibited in Tbilisi.”

The unique graphic portrait of the famous Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani, performed by a Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso in 1972, has been exhibited in Tbilisi. Fifteen original paintings by Pirosmani were put on display as well. The collection of paintings kept in Mirzaani, a village in Kakheti region, was exhibited for the first time after 1978.

Anzor Madzgharashvili, the director of Niko Pirosmani
Museum, spoke about Niko and the unique portrait of him in an interview with Georgian Journal:

– Niko Pirosmani’s life came to an end in Tbilisi. He used to live on the street which is at present called Pirosmani Street, in his honor. Close to his house there was a wine cellar called “Kardenakhi”, where he worked. The painting of “Kardenakhi” created by Niko is currently being kept at the Art Museum. In 1919, the artist became very sick. When he was unable to pay the rent for his house, he would spend nights in the cellar, which he knew was empty. A few days before Easter, he suddenly felt very bad. Niko told his friend, who found him by chance, that he was very ill and that he had been lying in that cellar alone for three days. Niko was taken to a hospital, but despite the doctor’s efforts, died in one and a half days. His final resting place is still unknown.

– How did Picasso end up painting Pirosmani’s portrait?

– Ilia Zdanevich, a Polish emigrant who left the Soviet Union in 1930s because he could not conform to its regime, discovered Pirosmani. When he left, he took a catalog of Pirosmani’s works with him. When Ilia became acquainted with Pablo Picasso, he showed this catalog to him. Picasso was so impressed by the paintings that he decided to create a portrait of Niko.

Fruit Stall by Niko Pirosmani

Threshing Floor at Dusk by Niko Pirosmani