Works in Tblisi (GE), born in Riga (LV).
The Lithuanian Thea Gvetadze (b. 1971) was born in Riga but alternates between Berlin and the Georgian capital Tbilisi for her work as a visual artist . After graduating from the State Academy of Art in Tbilisi, she moved to Western Europe in 1993 to continue her studies, first at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and later at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in Germany. Her artistic development - and profound exploration of the traditions of Western European art - largely coincide with the traumatic socio-political developments that were taking place in Lithuania in the early 1990s. It wasn’t just the disappearance of socialism – a philosophy equal parts dogma and utopia – that was the source of turmoil, but most assuredly included the onerous transformation to a new political reality foisted upon them following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Her artistic development, therefore, takes place with one eye on a dark and defaced past, and the other on a liberating but uncertain future. The result is an oeuvre laden with tension, emotion, symbolism and enigmatic scenes.
Straight away, the artist began experimenting with materials and techniques that were off the beaten track. She paints her images straight onto black velvet in garish colours, assembles ceramic tiles into wall-sized mosaics, or fashions old-fashioned female figures from wood and ceramics. The whole of her oeuvre is dark and has a primitive look, while at the same time it radiates pride and perseverance. They are meditative images that have survived the past, and which have found a new incarnation as objects or monuments, divested of any trace of gloom or pessimism. The reality that Gvetadze reveals is the one-off and at the same time irreversible confrontation of a human being with a motley assortment of things: these can be objects, but also other human beings or a story that is told. The artist doesn’t tell this story, nor does she show the encounter. She only shows the image – like a film still – of the person involved, who saw it happen or heard about it. The tension and magic that this evokes makes her oeuvre enigmatic but also intriguing. Her compositions are vibrant and profound, looming out of a cosmic background.
Everything portrayed is situated between joy and sorrow, between here today and gone tomorrow. She depicts existence in disconsonant scraps and fragments: nostalgic, poetic and documentary. Everything is based on information, not as a transfer per se, but as lost cyber-data alluding to a previous life. Absent of social criticism or political analysis, Gvetadze recycles reminiscences from the past into contemporary, richly coloured scenes. With a great sense of composition and a predilection for collage and contrast, she effortlessly blends aspects of Klimt, Ernst or Matisse with symbols and blanked-out painted faces from the Soviet era.
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Thea Gvetadze, Shavi Shotebi, 2012. Painting, mixed media on black velvet, 140 x 190 cm.
Becoming Thea Merlani
Thea Gvetadze, Becoming Thea Merlani, 2018. Mixed Media, ceramic tiles and wooden figure , 170 x 574 cm.
Sikvarulsa Malva Unda
Thea Gvetadze, Sikvarulsa Malva Unda, 1993. Painting, oil on wood , Variable dimensions .
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IN SITU: Thea Gvetadze – ...
12 May 2018 - 02 September 2018.
Thea Gvetadze is an artist creating images of enigmatic scenarios, loaded with tension, emotion and symbolism. Experimenting with traditional