Georgian modernist art from 1910s-1920s to be celebrated at Zurich display

The display will include exhibits of modernist print art from the era. Photo:, 07 Mar 2018 - 16:57, Tbilisi,Georgia

The fascinating emergence of modernist art in Georgia 100 years ago will be celebrated and explored in a Swiss display involving artwork, film screenings and workshops later this year.

Kunstalle Zurich, promoted by the country as "one of the most influential museums for contemporary art”, will open up its space for the exhibition Georgian Modernism (The Fantastic Tavern) this coming summer.

It will present the story of how, in the midst of global and regional turmoil in the 1910s and 1920s, Georgia became a hub for local and foreign avant-garde artists.

A painting of a modernist art cafe in Tbilisi by Lado Gudiashvili. Photo:

From 1918-1921, Georgia declared its short independence as the Democratic Republic of Georgia, and Tbilisi became the "Paris” of the East, where an inspired community of artists not only developed unprecedented creative practices but also collaborated to produce astonishing works of art”, said a preview by organisers.

The era gave rise to a flurry of creative activity and the founding of professional art forms in the country, with active development in fields including stage design, print and sculpture.

To illustrate this, the display will exhibit works in forms including painting, drawing and print, with showcased artists of the era including brothers Zdanevich, painter David Kakabadze, futurist illustrator Ziga Valishevsky, artist Lado Gudiashvili and pioneering theatre designer Petre Otskheli.

Set design by Irakli Gamrekeli for the 1933 Rustaveli Theatre staging for 'Robbers' by Friedrich Schiller. Photo: Art Palace/

The theme for the exhibition was researched by Tbilisi-based art historian Nana Kipiani and curated by the Zurich venue.

Beside the selected artwork, the event will showcase pioneering examples of Georgian cinema from the era, including director Kote Mikaberidze’s 1929 silent feature My Grandmother, banned on its release by Soviet cultural authorities for nearly four decades.

Another example of filmmaking from the time period that will go on screen at the venue will be the 1930 work Buba by Georgia’s first female director Nutsa Gogoberidze.

The event in Zurich, dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of Georgia’s independence in 1918, will also involve workshops featuring contemporary artists.

Georgian Modernism (The Fantastic Tavern) will run in Zurich between August 25-November 4.