Visiting the Ornament Gallery in Tbilisi, Georgia
As I was planning a trip to Georgia I selected several interesting spots I intended on visiting. The “Ornament” art gallery especially caught my attention. I’m not sure if it was the name, so creative, accurate and captivating at the same time, or the art director whom, to say the truth, I found very intriguing. Anyhow, this gallery became one of the most important stops in Old Tbilisi.
The Erekli II Street was crammed with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and tourists strolling and gazing around. Various sounds came from all over the place: laughter, foreign words, cars honking, music. I felt like a kid in a candy store: the abundance of colors, curious buildings and patterns, interesting architecture. And there was the gallery, among this emotional caleidoscope of one of Tbilisi’s most extravagant streets.
I couldn’t wait to get to know Tea Gurgenidze. She founded the “Ornament” gallery in 2000, with her friends Khatuna and Marina Babunashvili, which was dedicated entirely to the restoration and development of Georgian cloisonné enamel tradition and its integration in global art culture.
Tea turned out to be a very interesting and positive person who devoted herself to this amazing art with love and passion. She told me many interesting facts about the enamel techniques and the development of this art in Georgia.
Tea graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, specializing in painting. She studied enamel by herself and refined her technique by trial and error. “I did sketches, experimented with technology,” remembered Tea, “I stopped drawing and started to think.”
Her creations are very picturesque, she works with vast planes, in which the figurativeness and the imagery are important. Alternation of vivid contours with dimensions processed by light and shade, and exaggeration of forms creates a distinctive characteristic oher expressiveness. Tea always likes to create something new, she does not like to duplicate, so, for example, the creation of earrings and cufflinks is a boring process to her: “I do not like to duplicate. The same emotion does not repeat itself. ” – she said.
An enamel studio based on ancient Georgian cloisonnè art was also established on the gallery grounds in 2002: here the development and advancement of new enamel art trends take place on a regular basis. The gallery has in fact exhibited a large number of its students works.
“When we opened the school, there were a lot of students from abroad, coming from France, Spain, Japan,” said Tea. “Every student works in his own way… Sometimes they come back for advice. They are afraid of me: I never say that it is well done”- laughed Tea.
Gallery representatives have been organizing workshops in France, the United States and Lithuania since 2007 they have been taking part in biennales all over the world and organizing personal exhibitions abroad as well. The integration of Georgian cloisonné enamel art in the international art community is one of the gallery’s main objectives.
Each of the “Ornament” gallery’s artists appear to be very diverse stylistically speaking as well as in the production of unique and distinctive works. Designs and patterns are colorful and unusually artistic. Some of the artists have shared innovative interpretations of ancient themes, created modern forms andcompletely avoided tradition in favor of postmodern expressiveness. Others make successful copies of old Georgian and Byzantine icons.
As Tea observed and I couldn’t agree more: “If you do not put your soul into the work, you can not complete it.” The pieces in the gallery are created so that you can feel the artist’s personal expression, his vision and interpretation of age-old traditions.
Collection of Christmas tree enamel ornaments:
Enamel Art Gallery “Ornament”