• Weaving the Threads of Creativity

    Spotlight on Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) 2024

The Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) returns in 2024, spearheaded by visionary Eric Schlosser from its very first edition.

More than just an exhibition, TAF 2024 is a celebration of the diverse threads that form the fabric of contemporary art in the country. “At TAF, we aim to weave together the threads of tradition and innovation, creating a tapestry of artistic expression that resonates with the soul of Georgia,” encapsulating the event’s ethos. Artists are encouraged to draw inspiration from Georgian culture while exploring the edges of artistic innovation. This theme of traditional craftsmanship permeates every aspect, from carefully curated exhibitions to dynamic public programs. Through textile art, mixed media installations, and material-led processes, artists breathe life into age-old traditions, infusing them with contemporary relevance. “Our goal is not just to showcase art but to craft narratives that reflect the complex interplay between past and present, tradition and innovation,” emphasises Schlosser.

In the heart of Tbilisi, TAF unfolds like a vibrant patchwork quilt, with each gallery and exhibition space offering a unique glimpse into the artistic landscape of the country and beyond. Georgian galleries and independent spaces like LC Queisser, Art Beat, and Window Project showcase their rich cultural heritage, while international exhibitors bring a global perspective to the table. Henrik Vibskov, one of the featured artists at TAF 2024, shares his perspective on the decorative fabric theme: “For me, the tapestry represents a metaphor for interconnectedness – each thread, no matter how small, contributes to the overall fabric of society.” His words echo the sentiments of artists and visitors alike, drawn into the intricate web of creativity that defines TAF.

Beyond the exhibition halls, TAF 2024 extends its reach into the city itself, with the initiative of the Tbilisi Public Art Fund. Established by the Tbilisi City Hall in 2023, it supports contemporary visual arts, promoting Georgian art and enriching the city’s cultural fabric. Through the fund, young and emerging talents benefit from diverse opportunities. Serving as a grant-giving body, the initiative insists on project proposals through open calls, ensuring democratic involvement in the field. In its inaugural year, the organisation concentrates on projects across the city.

One of these artists who enriched the city is Tedo Rekhviashvili.His paintings, layered collages, and installations blend critical insights into problematic topics with a fusion of historical painting characteristics and modern technological language.Graduating from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in 2014, he furthered his studies at the New York Academy of Arts, graduating successfully in 2020. He has since participated in numerous international exhibitions, fairs, and projects, with “Memory, Power, and Temptations” marking his first solo exhibition upon his return from New York. His solo exhibition presents a multimedia project showcasing works created over the past two years. A standout feature is a large-scale installation bringing together various objects from the past, now rendered completely useless, serving as a reminder of bygone history.

Themes of time’s passage, transience, and optimism amidst fatal motives are embodied in metaphors like the continuous movement of a train, mythological animals, and the desolate shelter of a hermit. The material world is depicted as driven by temptation and marked by power-oriented perversions, with references to degradation under the guise of tradition, conflict, and isolation spurred by pandemics. Visiting the exhibition at the Silk Factory during the Tbilisi Art Fair was an immersive journey into the artist’s world of intricate symbolism. Walking through the industrial space transformed into a gallery, visitors were captivated by Rekhviashvili’s mastery of colour and form, each piece inviting introspection and exploration. The palpable influence of Anselm Kiefer in Rekhviashvili’s central installation added another layer of depth and complexity to the experience.

With a similar soul of the Tbilisi Public Art Fund, there is Corridor: an art and education space located at 20 P.Ingorokva Street in Tbilisi, Georgia. Founded by art historian and independent curator Sopo Kolkhidashvili in collaboration with the Niko Street Art movement, Corridor aims to support and promote Georgian contemporary and street art on a local and international scale. The name is symbolic, representing both the distinctive architecture of the exhibition space and its role as a pathway connecting artists with the global art world. Corridor currently hosts a captivating exhibition featuring the works of two exceptional young Georgian female artists, Mako Lomadze. Lomadze’s exploration of texture and memory in oil on canvas is deeply moving.

Her series, including “Land of Invisible Bugs,” “Contrasts of Softness and Strength,” and “Bones, Thorns, and Soap Bubbles,” symbolise the balance between endurance and ephemeral beauty.Lomadze’s art defies natural logic, inviting viewers into a world where childhood memories blend with profound existential explorations, mirroring the complexity of human resilience and vulnerability. On the other hand, Lika Eristavi utilises mixed media to craft her visual narrative, as showcased in her debut exhibition, “Chapter I.” Her work defies easy categorisation, embodying the essence of outsider and Brut Art with a deeply personal touch.

Through textiles, ceramics, and painting, Eristavi explores the intricacies of everyday life, love, and existential themes, blending old and new to create visuals that bridge past and present.Her art invites reflection on the profound aspects of human experience, underpinned by a humorous yet optimistic outlook.As the curtains close on TAF 2024, Eric Schlosser reflects on the journey thus far: “The tapestry we have woven together at this year’s fair is a testament to the resilience and creativity of the human spirit. In a world that often feels fragmented, art has the power to unite us, weaving together the threads of our shared humanity.” With each edition, TAF reaffirms its commitment to celebrating diversity, fostering dialogue, and inspiring creativity for generations to come.

TAF 2024 / Weaving the Threads of Creativity

Credits:

Event: TAF 2024 / @tbilisiartfair
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Assistant: Annalisa Fabbrucci / @annalisa_fabbrucci

You may also like

Subtle cut

Art&Culture | Spotlight
Tell me, from the bottom of your heart. Do you really want to do this? Where were we going? A short movie directed by Thales Banzai, with words by Brazilian poet Pam Araujo.

Alyson Shotz / Investigations into space, light and matter

Art&Culture | Interview
American artist Alyson Shotz on her research and exploration of nature, light and space in conversation with Maria Abramenko.

Philip Hinge / Symbolic Scratches

Art&Culture | Interview
In conversation with the artist, discovering works with contrasting or unbalanced paths, characterised by narrative and psychological lines. If we delve into his vision, we can discover a world in which colours, shadowy representations and interesting cats combine to create capturing art . We become spectators of what he calls a visually brilliant display with an undercurrent of 'unreliable storytelling'.