Five Questions For Expats
By Stan Gaivoronsky
Aison, where did you live before moving to Tbilisi and what brought you here?
I lived in Moscow for three and a half years and then moved to Tbilisi. What was the reason? I don’t even know, it happened by chance (I never dreamed of getting here). I came here for a week with just a backpack, one pair of sneakers and a sleeping bag … My friends had bought a one-way ticket for me. I came to paint murals in the “bed and breakfast” that they opened, and I didn’t have money for a return ticket.
Where do you live now?
I live near Marjanishvili right by the Dry Bridge in such an old apartment that it’s absolutely not suitable for people. Many who have spent the night at my place say it’s impossible to live in it … but I really like it, such an artist’s den with unfinished walls. And it’s not far from the river, and I really love the river.
Name five of your favorite spots in Tbilisi.
There are many old-fashioned shops on Tsinamdzgvrishvili street and there is this one, which is the coolest of all … The shopkeeper’s name is Rusudan. She constantly swears at you, even if you buy something. It doesn’t matter why (laughs), and in general, she is very strange. Somehow one day I met her, and she was hiding from someone. She went out through the back door and spied on the main entrance, and then she saw me and began to scream across the street “GAMARJOBA ROGOR HAAAR” I shouted to her “KARGAT AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING THERE” and she said “HIDING.” She’s weirdly cool.
Another welcoming place where they give you books and say “you can pay later” is next to my house, a small bookstore in a basement.
There is no name or address … along Javakhishvili street opposite the square. I also really like one strange Georgian canteen with a simply incredible Soviet-Georgian bas-relief on the wall and also in the basement (just probably my love for basements takes its toll). “Mapshalia” on Agmashenebeli. Also, there is one small Gallery “LC QUEISSER”. But in reality, there is no such thing as a “favorite place” in Tbilisi. There is too much love everywhere, everywhere.
What do you do?
I draw. There is not much to say … on the walls in various cool places, on paper, on canvas, on the sand, in sandboxes. I had my very first exhibition here in July. I also began to stick-poking tattoos. The other day I literally did two on a boy from a village in Georgia and something from the soul for a friend too, here in the village. Well, so I left for the village “Udobno” to do art and volunteer for the festival. Sometimes I also write stupid songs, nowhere to listen to them … like the bards of the past … only if you meet me and ask me to play them. Here. And probably, if you are interested … I work at Vagabond. This is the “bed and breakfast” in which I painted murals…
I think I’m there as a painter, gardener, sous-chef to a very cool chef, cat-feeder, dog attendant and generally a friend and assistant to all people who have come to Tbilisi from afar.
Five things in Georgia that surprised you.
I called my mother from the airport to tell her that I was flying to Tbilisi. “Oh, did you know that your Grandmother lived in Tbilisi?” This surprised me very much. I had absolutely no idea. My grandmother is Polish and, in general, she has a very interesting life story.
Nothing surprises me in Georgia. I’d rather say that it delights me or seems to be partially natural.
Say something in Georgian.
“Raaaaaaa.” This is how one can describe my life in one Georgian word.
✱ Aison Ower art in the woods.