Alexandra Kirienkova

Alexandra Kirienkova

Where did you come from and why?

I was born and raised in Moskow. I came to Tbilisi directly from Israel, where my husband my son and I had spontaneously migrated and lived for 4 months. We got our citizenship and suddenly, out of nowhere, we decided to move Georgia. I had wanted this for a long time. My husband got a new job here and we both love this country.

Even a year and a half ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I was dreaming of walking in puddles in Georgia one day, collecting figs and grapes in the gardens with my child.

Where do you live now?

Sololaki. This is a very peculiar neighborhood of Tbilisi, it’s right between the old town and the mountain. It’s very beautiful, with traditional Georgian decorations, full of locals and in comparison to other central areas of the city, it’s not very touristy. Little stores of fruits, stalls selling Georgian tobacco, old ladies with homemade cheese can be seen everywhere.

Every morning there is a lingering trader yelling “maaaaalinaaaa”. In the garden on the opposite side of the road, there are two neighbors arguing about something. In the afternoon there comes a man with a beret on his had and a bag on his back, full of cans and bottles, yelling – “matsoni, molokoooo!”, pauses, then again  – “matsoni”.

Name five favorite places in Tbilisi.

This question turned out to be quite difficult. Tbilisi is a very walkable city. As you walk, you can peek into little yards, where the whole life is outside, greet citizens, spontaneously join them around the table on plastic chairs, look at countless dogs. There are areas that are the most pleasant and interesting for walking, like Sololaki, Vera, etc.

I have my favorite secret bar – 41 Degrees. There are also artsy places like Litera and Stamba where you always see rich and well-dressed people with good manners and posture. Also, there is a street with beautiful-tasty-comfy restaurants, in which I like to spend some time, but I wouldn’t call it a favorite place. So, there you go, three areas, market, and a bar.

What are you doing, tell us about your project?

My main, almost full-time project at the moment is my child. In my free time, I hurry to paint the things I see during my everyday life. I started back when I lived in Moskow, where we lived in a gloomy one-room-apartment in Kuz’minka. There I came up with a few topics, which I supply with new findings and wait to paint them.

Everyday Rennaissance – here my husband is fixing out the sink, beautiful fruits rolling out of the packet on the dirty table, washcloths, and rags in sunlight.

Scraps – well, maybe just a sub-category of the Everyday Rennaissance. Oliver – my son, everything is obvious here. Characters – a man with matsoni, a madman from the local hospital wearing something on his head. Just a boy comfortably lying on a couch. Here I also include paintings from old family albums. Even though the people I draw are my relatives, still most of them are such distant relatives that I see them as strangers.

I also have self-portraits – I really love painting them. They can be done quickly as I am always around.

Here I want to make myself a portfolio of graphic a designer and illustrator and paint cool things for someone from afar.

Five things in Georgia that surprised you.

People. By now I’m almost used to it, but I still love this hospitality and simplicity that resides here. If you go to a Georgian feast and stay even for 15 minutes, you will leave drunk and with a little bottle of wine, hot bread and a full packet of tomatoes.

Or, when painting in a yard there is no way you won’t get to know children and their parents. Most likely you will drink with them too, at least coffee, for sure, will be brought to you without you even asking for it.

Beauty – here it is everywhere.

It even seems to be built in the letters. Homes – covered with twisted grapes, colorful underwear on ropes extended over the whole yard, red pomegranates hanging under dusty constructions. Even new concrete homes carry these characteristics and stay lively and strange.

These things are not beautiful only in places where they are made for a specific reason, not for you, where no one lives, like hundreds of restaurants next to sulfur baths, or newly restored streets, with empty houses, looking like decorations.

Sellers of the same stuff – sitting on stones across Rustaveli Avenue, street traders, stuff spread in front of them on desks, taking at least two meters in length, which are filled with, let’s say just lighters, or rubber bands, or gums.

Also contemporary painters.

Lettering “welcome” and “открыто” on restaurants which are not even fully constructed yet.

Feasts. Drinking chacha with wine. Ordering a thousand khinkali, just to leave like 20 of them untouched. Being noisy, hugging, kissing and inviting everybody over, singing. It does not matter whether someone died or was born, what matters is that the person is good and therefore he must be well. We are all humans, all humans are brothers, let’s drink to this!

Say something in Georgian.

“Vai me” (Could mean anything).

Stan Gaivoronsky
Stan Gaivoronsky

Author of the book “How to open a bookstore and not to screw up", founder of the school of creative writing and the blog "Tbilisi and surrounding area". Born and raised in Moscow, lives in Tbilisi.

No comments yet. Be the first one to leave a thought.
Leave a comment

Leave a Comment