LANDSCAPE INSIDE HER HEAD
In Conversation with Rusudan Khizanishvili
Published by JANE PRIVÈE, September 2022
Rusudan Khizanishvili lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. She is a powerful and acclaimed female artist, whose life reflects the countless lives of other Georgian women. Like many from the so-called “war generation” of Georgians who grew up during the civil war, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the chaos of the 1990s, Khizanishvili grew up in a largely poor society dominated by a patriarchal system. She married young, at age 19, and now has two grown daughters, so is still enveloped in quotidian duties. Yet, it took about fifteen years for Khizanishvili to move away from being a talented art student and to become one of the best represented contemporary Georgian artists in the west. Since then, Georgia has become renowned for combining the unspoiled exoticism of east-meets-west.
Khizanishvili’s story reflects this narrative, and her art holds a deeply autobiographical mirror. This mirror is full of metaphors, distortions, and doppelgängers. Magnetic colours draw the viewer in, but what they see there depends on what reference point is available. The gentle touch of a golden hour could swiftly turn into the sunset of western civilisation. Here, the artist shares her worldview with JANE PRIVÉE.
Nina Mdivani: Rusudan, the way you represent your surrounding environment has changed over time. It used to be more dissonant but is now characterised by more harmony. How would you explain this change?
Rusudan Khizanishvili: I can’t imagine a person standing apart from the outside world without interaction, in fact, everything that we are is an echo of surrounding space. Our world influences and changes us, just as we influence and change our world. These changes clearly occur on my canvases. My canvases are small models of the world I live [in] every day, telling this or that story. Accordingly, my messages to society change through their visual image. My previous works are presented as a search for harmony of a person and her environment through the disharmony of the image. [Where] acceptance of the world through its non-acceptance manifests itself with the help of a bright, restless palette of colours. While now I kind of accept certain rules of the game and intuitively make a choice in favour of harmony. Now, the emphasis itself is [increasingly] on the depiction of symbolism in a more calm and classical manner of depiction—forms and symbols become leading and planes are replaced by volume.
There are recurrent symbols and compositional devices in your paintings such as stars, flowers, and mountain ranges. What is their significance to you? I know you are heavily informed by literary sources—do these symbols originate there or have more personal connotations?
Stars and mountains are the symbols of our planet that existed before us and will exist after us. What we are reaching for is what leads us regardless of our actions. My family belongs to the high mountainous region of Georgia and mountains have always been a source of energy and strength for me. Stars are a symbol of our desires. But besides my personal preferences, one of my sources of inspiration is the medieval miniature, where special attention is paid to the symbolism of the images. This layering of meaning intrigues me.
Colour is an important visual vehicle for you. Have you always been instinctually drawn to colour or has it become more intense over time?
[It is] definitely instinctive—I know in advance how the shape will be drawn. But when I move on to colour, I completely turn off the conscious mind and give free rein to [my] subconscious decisions on colour selection. In this way, I combine on the canvas the rational and the irrational. I release my subconscious completely, since sincerity comes in this way.
You are one of the best represented contemporary Georgian artists in the west. How do you feel about it? Do you think there are any specific Georgian or Eastern European features in your work?
In fact, I am happy to represent my small country in the vast world of art, but along with joy, this is a huge responsibility when viewed from a global perspective. My country has ancient roots and is rich in art history, but despite its heritage, I am moving in a modern direction to make my art universal on a global scale. [Although] belonging to my little country never leaves me.
You have quite a busy fall ahead of you. What is coming up?
In early September, I will be presented by Kornfeld Gallery in Seoul. Then in early November, my solo exhibition at Kornfeld Gallery is planned—there we will present a new catalogue for the recent body of work. [And] at the end of November, my works will also be presented by Kornfeld Gallery at UNTITLED Miami.
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