Elene Chantladze & Nata Janberidze / Keti Toloraia (Rooms Studio) — europalia georgia


M HKA, Antwerp

23 September 2023 - 07 January 2024

This exhibition proposes establishing a connection between the work of the artist and poet Elene Chantladze and that of the designers Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia, the duo behind Rooms Studio. The unprecedented encounter that materialises in the show is rooted in the intuition that both practices express and engage with a strong and active commitment to places.

Far away from the international artistic and cultural circuits, Elene Chantladze works from her home in Tskaltubo. Her house serves as a studio, a home for the different generations of her family that she cares for and a space to host and welcome visitors who regularly come to meet her and see her work. Chantladze’s practice comprises poems, short stories and paintings. Her writing and visual work share her interpretations of experiencing life close to the powers of childhood, animals and nature, while also being affected by dominant forces such as geopolitical conflicts and patriarchy. The artist employs materials and pigments sourced from her immediate surroundings, such as pieces of cardboard, boxes, plastic covers, gasoline or mulberry juice. 

Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia’s design studio is located in the heart of Tbilisi, on the ground floor of a historical building in Vera district. The large apartment they occupy looks like a defeated palace, now driven by an energetic sense of freedom, simplicity and creativity. Rooms Studio uses the space as a showroom, a buzzing workplace and, at times, a space to host parties where a community of engaged minds meet and exchange ideas. Rooms Studio is known for conceiving and designing interiors, crafted objects and sculptural furniture pieces, often in collaboration with Georgian craftspeople and artists. Their designs combine a thoughtful consideration of historical shapes and materials, drawing inspiration from the informal street designs emerging in Tbilisi, a rapidly transforming city, with ideas derived from international trends. The creations of Rooms Studio succeed in bearing a temporal mark that always links an evanescent cultural heritage with a strong and sensitive commitment to the here and now.

The exhibition at M HKA articulates and celebrates the common ground that comes alive through their work. Beyond their specific approaches to painting, storytelling and design, the two practices share their acknowledgement of interiors and, by extension, of interiority as an essential space that contributes to the development of resilience, freedom and, most importantly, the conception of new imaginaries. The places where everyday life happens, whether indoor or outdoor, intimate or public, act as sites of observation and emancipation. Vernacular practices are understood and used by the three women in a progressive fashion, leading local traditions, resources and knowledge towards transformative terrains far away from the status quo.

The show features a generous selection of drawings and paintings by Elene Chantladze made between the 1990s and the present day, in dialogue with newly conceived furniture, display and support structures by Rooms Studio. Sometimes the two oeuvres hold space for each other; at other times they remain autonomous.

A small publication accompanies the exhibition, with essays commissioned from the author and curator, Elene Abashidze, and the artist Andro Eradze. The two were invited to interpret and document the encounter between Elene Chantladze and Rooms Studio freely from the perspective of their own engagements and practices.

This project is part of M HKA’s In Situ programme, a series of exhibitions focusing on the development of new work and projects commissioned for the largest and most atypical space in the museum. It is being held as part of Europalia Georgia, an arts festival taking place across Belgium from 4 October 2023 until 14 January 2024.

Click here to browse the digital scan of the exhibition.

Items View all

Media View all

Actors View all