Of Goddesses and Women

Curatorial text for Rusudan Khizanishvili‘s solo exhibition “Of Goddesses and Women,” March 18- May 3 at Window Project gallery, Tbilisi, Georgia. Exhibition design by Lado Lomitashvili.

In the presented works created between 2018-2021 Rusudan Khizanishvili engages with the themes that run as threads in her artistic practice of the last fifteen years. Women in all their power are at the center, as are their fragmentized or altered bodies, disjointed embraces, mysterious shadowy figures, sphynxes, and floral forms. Although they are at the center, they remain anonymous, just as women tend to be in Georgia. Central figures on the stage are not named in Khizanishvili’s scenography. Yet, their identities could be assumed. Dali, Medea, Tinatin, Tamar, Nestan, Virgin Mary, Venus are all symbolically present in the faces, figures, gestures, compositions.

Rather than engaging with the romanticized version of the past and habitual way of painting and perceiving women as quaint figures, Khizanishvili redefines this tradition by bringing new dynamics into contemporary Georgian art. Alongside small-sized portraits the artist paints encapsulated spectacles, framed by the canvas and almost defying gravity. Here, traditional motherly archetype is clashing with a willful woman, who is powerful, and might be manipulative, yet is present. The women we see are actively involved in their spectacles, invested in the outcomes. As Dali, goddess of hunting and wilderness, Khizanishvili is able to transform humans into wild beasts and vice versa. Transformation alludes to interconnectedness between humans and the Earth, transmutation between species. Ceramics created by Khizanishvili and presented for the first time at this exhibition, also underline the connection with the terrain through their medium. Clay objects are fragmentized and free-standing, three-dimensional representation of Khizanishvili’s visions. Symbolic crown is every woman’s crown, but also crown of King Tamar.   

Khizanishvili bridges a gap between past and future, defining a new tradition. This new reaches with it roots to the medieval frescos as well as the art of Matisse and plasticity of Munch, while simultaneously embodying contemporaneity of structure and figuration. The artist enamored with the Outsider art as well as with Paola Rego, Nick Cave, Kara Walker among many others, creates a new cannon. Her paintings and ceramics are objects to be looked at in terms of their aesthetic quality, but also as a prompt for a discussion. By engaging with this double function of art Khizanishvili makes a larger statement about women and their place in Georgian society. Contemporary women have enough courage, vision, talent, stamina, and maturity, to move beyond traditional archetypes, to embrace new identities, not tied to their upbringings, but to their conscious choices.

If this is packaged within Khizanishvili’s striking and sensual canvases and alluring compositions it is up to the viewer to dig deeper and find her own truths. But the new tradition is here.

Rusudan Khizanishvili interviewed by The Art Gorgeous about this exhibition.