Multi-Layered Highlights From the Tbilisi Art Fair 2019

Contemporary pieces from a selection of international artists

Concurrent with the non-commercial OXYGEN_Tbilisi No Fair exhibition, the Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) highlights Georgian artists and galleries. Unlike the former event, however, TAF also incorporates an international presence. From other institutions in the region—such as Azerbaijan—to Western European and American contributions, the fair allows attendees to see the vibrancy of homegrown artists amidst their global peers. It’s predominantly composed of Georgian galleries (to its benefit) and Georgian artists truly impress the importance of the nation’s contemporary art scene on visitors. But their mission as a platform beyond a fair is to embolden artists from the Caucasus, Eastern and Central Europe. Below are our five favorite multi-layered presentations from the second annual iteration.

Levan Mindiashvili’s “I Should Have Kissed You Longer”

A multimedia, mixed material onslaught from the Erti Gallery booth is imagined and installed by Georgia-born, New York-based artist Levan Mindiashvili. From neon word art in both English and Georgian script to modified text on a chalkboard, Mindiashvili’s art manipulates the familiar in order to probe deeper—altogether, here, building an immersive stage. Known as “I Should Have Kissed You Longer,” the installation incorporates a central sound-system and songs by Georgian DJ and producer Sophia Saze.

Lisa Alvarado’s “Traditional Object 28”

Presented by the exquisite Tbilisi-based LC Queisser Gallery, American artist Lisa Alvarado‘s “Traditional Object 28” (2018) finds feathers and acrylic paint affixed to fabric and wood. The mesmerizing layers of color and material yield a fractured peacock-sheen. The painted piece reveals more and more upon repeat glances.

Anke Eilergerhard’s Crown of Georgia Series

Wall-hung but with a wedding cake-like structure, Anke Eilergerhard‘s “Crown of Georgia” pieces feature layers upon layer of pigmented silicone. The German artist’s pieces were on show at Lucerne, Switzerland gallery AB43 Contemporary’s installation. From the delicate colors to the delectable shapes, there was something almost mouth-watering to the sculptures.

Sasha Frolova’s “Leia Mask”

Russian artist Sasha Frolova‘s layered latex pieces populated Tbilisi-based Ria Keburia Foundation‘s entire booth. With playful colors and swirling shapes, Frolova taps into silliness, wonder and eccentricity. Her ” Leia Mask” (2016) is wearable art and falls in line with several body suits and latex wigs Frolova has imagined.

Merab Abramishvili’s “Pomegranate” and “Dog-Rose”

Rising side by side at Tbilisi-based Baia Gallery‘s booth, Merab Abramishvili‘s “Pomegranate” (2003) and “Dog-Rose” (2003) feature layers of pigment on plywood—dispersed by the tempera method. Made only three years before the Georgian artist passed away in 2006, the panels evoke time long since past with their nuanced beauty.

Photos by David Graver