A new illustrated book on Petre Otskheli, one of Georgia’s most notable avant-garde artists and a pioneering theatre designer, has been published in German to bring the story of the victim of political repressions to an audience outside his country.
Created in collaborative effort of author Kote Jandieri, historians Giorgi Kalandia and Wladimir Velminski and art critic Vadim Zakharov, Petre Otskheli — In Flames of Time packages biographical notes on the young creative with his colourful sketches.
Despite his early death, Otskheli's scenographic constructivism influenced the film and theater scene of the avant-garde.”
The mystery of the simplicity and monumentality of Otskheli's works lies in his references to nature as a source of further education,” authors say in their summary for the publisher.
Published by the Berlin-based ciconia ciconia publishing house, the book has over 100 illustrations and text by Jandieri, prefaced by an introduction from Kalandia, Zakharov and Velminski. The project for the book saw support from the Georgian National Book Centre.
Despite his short artistic career — terminated at the age of 29 — Otskheli is seen as a major figure of the 20th century Georgian Constructivist avant-garde movement.
He is also recognised as a founder of Georgian theatre design art, and for themes based on mythology and futurism holding prominent role in his works.
Collaborating with famous Georgian theatre director Kote Marjanishvili for designing local productions, Otskheli was also recognised internationally.
The 1939 International Exhibition of Stage Design in London granted him a gold medal posthumously, two years after he was executed by Soviet authorities during the 1937 Great Purge, on trumped-up charges of treason.
Otskheli’s works and facts about his life can be found in an online display at Google Art and Culture, a large online database bringing together collections from museums around the world.
The online platform created a profile page for the artist in collaboration with Tbilisi’s Art Palace Museum in 2016.
In the following year, the 110th birthday of the artist was marked by a restoration of 30 of Otskheli’s works, later presented at exhibitions and displayed at public spaces across Tbilisi.