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Niko and Georgian society

Nov - 7 - 2012
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First article about Niko Pirosmani and his art was published in Georgian newspaper “Temi” as early as 1913, but Georgian society still knew very little about him.

First who showed interest in artist’s fate among Georgians was Dito Shevardnadze. He arrived in Georgia in 1916, and he immediately noticed paintings which were decorating dukhans nearby Tbilisi rail station. At that year he had an idea to make a connection between all Georgian artists and for that reason found the society. He created list of artists, and among them was Niko Pirosmani too, he was granted the title – “national artist”.

The first meeting of that society took place in March 1916, and in papers about that meeting is some notes about Niko:
“Issue about finding and buying paintings by Niko Pirosmani, finding out his address and information about him. The chair thinks it is important to be serious about his artworks, there is need to find them and to get them. Since the Society doesn’t have sufficient funds, it should address Georgian Historical-Ethnographical Society, and seek it’s help, ask them to get these paintings because they are national treasures. The goal of Society is to help find and get those paintings and organize their exhibition.

Society should find out where is Niko Pirosmani, whether he is alive, or need some help. Some work should be done to find out his biographical information. All these work should be done by specially created committee. Members of that committee are Lado Gudiashvili, Ioseb Gogolashvili, Mose Toidze and Gigo Zaziashvili”.

It is obvious that Georgian public didn’t’ know at that time whereabouts of Niko Pirosmani. After some time Mose Toidze and Gigo Zaziashvili found him in May 24. And this was published in newspaper “Narodnyi Listok”. They invited Niko on next meeting of the society of painters.

After meeting was over Niko met Shevardnadze, talked to him and was very happy that they showed interest to his art and himself. They gave him 10 rubles and made his picture. He bought painting material with that money and painted on very big canvas “Utsindeli sakartvelos kortsili” – Wedding in Georgia of the past times. He presented this painting to the Society.

Seemed like things are going well and he would get some help. But the month didn’t even pass and in newspaper some G.Z. (Gigo Zaziashvili) published cartoon: very old man with palette in his one hand is painting a Giraffe . Next to him is standing Grigol Robakidze (modern writer) who is saying – “You must learn, brother! Man of your age can still crate a lot… after some 10-20 years you will grow to be a good painter… And then we will send you on young artists exhibition…”

This was very painful for Niko. After that he stopped all his contacts with that Society. The bridge between Niko and rest of Georgian painters was broken. He was left again among dukhan people. The First World War started at that time, so situation got worse, there was no clientele, and he was weak because of poor health. He lived near Malakan Bazaar under the stairs room, but after some time, because he couldn’t pay the owner throwed him out. Niko knew that the basement of that house was empty and used to go there after dark. But once, in the end of winter he went down there being already sick, and couldn’t get up in the morning. After couple days one of the neighbors found him there unconscious, he called help and Ilia Mgaloblishvili put him in the hospital, but it was already late, he died after few hours. This was 1918, night before Easter.

www.pirosmani.org

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