Extraordinarily prolific, Gia Gugushvili creates countless oil paintings in his studio, mostly on cardboard. His work generally consists of figurative compositions that demonstrate a distinctive artistic style defined by squiggly brushstrokes and bold color combinations.
His recurring imagery includes women and men, dancers, thinkers, haloed figures engaged in a dialogue or in deep thought.
The characters that Gugushvili paints exuberate stillness and vitality at the same time.
They are the masters of their chaotic surrounding, confidently inhabiting their bodies, despite the artistic distortion of their personhood.
In Gugushvili’s paintings, the colors are erratic and shifting. To achieve this effect, the artist paints quickly with wide, blended strokes using thick applications of oil paint. As a result, his characters have a rough physicality that sets them apart from the smoothness of the background.
Born in Tbilisi on August 16th, 1952, Gugushvili finished Tbilisi State Art Academy in 1977.
Today, hailed as one of the most prominent painters of Georgia, Gugushvili teaches a master class at the same academy.
His works are displayed in Georgia’s National Museum, the Art Museum in Achara (Batumi), the Eastern Museum (Moscow), Cristoph Merian Fund in Basel, Norton Dodge Museum in Philadelphia and in private galleries and collections in Georgia and abroad.
In your opinion, what was the most important part of your past?
Gia: Most important was the decision to become a painter, and the hard work I put in it.
How is your work related to the country’s social or political circumstances, if at all?
Gia: I don’t think that my work should be related to such processes (if we don’t count the poster designs).
What’s going on in our contemporary city?
Gia: There are huge developments in city design.
How did you spend the summer?
Gia: Summer is always hot in the south, and in my studio too, but I still haven’t stopped working.
Do you engage a lot with your students? What do you think about them? Are any of them especially talented?
Gia: Yes, I teach master’s degree courses. This is the highest educational level in arts and I’m always happy to engage with them. As for talented ones, I think life will show that.
Throughout your life you had a lot of different creative periods; how much did your work relate to this or that epoch?
Gia: My creative periods, just as that of any other painter’s, can be divided into different parts. They differ through goals and experimentations, and even in sizes too. My goal has never been to describe reality directly. It may leave some trace, but I never tried to represent it directly.
Who influenced your life and work?
Gia: My father, who also was a painter. From teachers: V. Sherpilov, K. Maxaradze, and so on. They were on high ranks at the painter’s academy, but outside it, I would say Jak Ikhamilian too.
What is your main source of inspiration?
Gia: My mood.
How do Georgian contemporary painters influence the art world?
Gia: That’s hard to answer. Generally, countries and their cultures affect one another so that there’s always influence exchange amongst them.
If we look over the 70-80-90s, what was the significance of those years?
Gia: Those years represented progress towards freedom, and by that, I mean towards a free policy in arts.
Tell us, how does a random day in your life look like?
Gia: Painter’s Academy, meetings with colleagues, students – lectures, external meetings, and artistic work after 6 pm, every day.
What do you do when you want to get away from everything?
Gia: I go to my studio and turn on Jazz music on high volume.
What does Tbilisi mean for you?
Gia: I was born in Tbilisi. I live here, and I love my city.
Interviewer: Liza Tsitsishvili