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Discovering Pirosmani

Nov - 7 - 2012

The 19th century was coming to its end, that was the period of important political events as well as the period of flourishing of Georgian culture, many famous and talented people were working at that time, such as writers and poets Ilia Chavchavadze – who was murdered for his prominent political views, Akaki Tsereteli, Vaja Pshavela – poet and writer in love with the nature, Iakob Gogebashvili – who wrote the first manual book of Georgian language – “Ai Ia”. And many others. At that time Georgia was under Russian rule, and all these prominent people were reflecting this hardship in their masterpieces.

The beginning of 20th century. Niko year after year is working in Dukhans. He lives in the little apartment not far from train station. All little enterprises in this neighborhood is filled with his paintings. They pictured Georgia, its beautiful land and sky, Georgian people, their everyday life. Also there are scenes from the past of Georgia, wonderful queen Tamara, brilliant Shota (12 century great poet), Heros and Heroines – real people, but by their deeds talked about like a saint.

He pictures kings and peasants, town and country, parties and prayers, dancers and singers, people and animals.

People were seeing these pictures, they were liked and prised, they were talked about. Michael le-Dantiu, Ilia Zhdanevich and his brother wrote about them in his memoirs. They also wrote that painter himself was very poor and struggled every day to earn living, as well as the materials for his art.

All kinds of people tried to interfere in his work, these were his clients – Dukhan-owners, thinking that they know better what he should paint, who usually payed him only with food, while he was working in their dukhans. Zhdanevich wrote about Pirosmani letter to editors of a newspaper “Zakavkazskaia Rech'”, and they published it in February 13, 1913. He also promised to take his paintings: portrait of himself and Roe to Moscow, and make society aware of such a great painter. Moscow newspaper “Moskovskaia Gazeta” of January 7, wrote about exhibition “Mishen'” where self educated painters had their artworks, among them Niko Pirosmanashvili was presented with his 4 paintings: “Zhdanevich’s Portrait”, “Still Life “, “Woman with the Beer Mug”, and “The Roe”. And critics which were published later in the same newspaper were impressed with his talent.

Seemed like the ice is broken, and Pirosmani is discovered. People showed some interest to him and his work. But nobody actually helped him, he kept living in poverty, among impudent and irritating dukhan-owners and arrogant clientele.

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