Opening Friday August 24 2018, 6pm
Georgian Modernism: The Fantastic Tavern brings a dense and interesting, yet largely ignored chapter of western art history to Europe for the first time, calling for the overdue acknowledgement of the artistic accomplishments of the Georgian Modernist movement.
A hundred years ago, in 1918, the Democratic Republic of Georgia declared its independence from the Russian Empire. A brief period of freedom, which lasted until the invasion by the Soviet Red Army in 1921, followed. In those years, Tbilisi became the “Paris of the East” as international artists, some having fled Russia, encountered the local Avant-garde which stood in frequent exchange with Europe. The open, experimental, interdisciplinary art which arose seems instructive for our polarized times. Painting, sculpture, drawing, literature, folk art, ethnography, research, typography, and bookmaking all inspired and challenged each other. This not only led to Georgian Dadaism, Irakli Gamrekeli's groundbreaking stage settings, Niko Pirosmani's paintings, David Kakabadze's art and research, and the Georgian version of Zaum by Ilya Zdanevič, as well as his interdisciplinary endeavor 41° (41 degrees; a university, a group of artist, a magazine, and a publishing house all in one), but it furthermore yielded magnificent films, typographic experiments, radical theatre performances, painted taverns, and a general attitude towards life that continues to inspire.