Tag: Cristian Tonhaiser

This is Not Art [QNÈA]: 8 Questions Journey Into Georgian Contemporary Art

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8 Questions Journey Into Georgian Contemporary Art

by Diego Pillon

posted at This is Not Art [QNÈA] on February 23, 2015 [This is the English version. Click here for the Italian one]

One of the most amazing thing we love living in London is the bunch of opportunities you have if you want to learn a bit more about our world, being London much more than only a multicultural city, but a hub for everyone willing to show off themself and also for who’s looking to broaden his mind. RichMix is one of our fav places in order to experience world music, new approaches and let’s say “wild” experiences.
A couple of months ago we popped in to learn a bit more about Georgian contemporary art through the “Heritage” exhibition organised by Dash Art.  That’s how Diego and I met Levan Mindiashvili, artist & curator born in Georgia but currently living in New York, and Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Georgian artist still living in Georgia.

Read our interview to Levan here and scroll down to reach Tato’s! 

1) Considering yourself a curator, which is the meaning of the “Heritage” exhibition?
The initial idea of the project HERITAGE was to analyze the phenomena of “Heritage” itself.
Artists had complete freedom to choose any aspect of it, though already being familiar with their work, I could envision two main fields explored: historical heritage intertwined with personal memories or stories and biological, almost genetic one.

Since early 90’s, alike any post-soviet country, a main concern of Georgian society has been re-defining and re-constructing its own historical identity. The reference for these attempts are always idealized ancient history and mythological “traditions”, but never a recent past or current experiences. With this project we wanted to trigger a critical approach to those mythologies and also, to analyze events and social constructions in which we were born and formed as persons.

Levan-Heritage-exhibition-London-Georgian-contemporary-art 2) With the eyes of a designer, could you describe your project UtaLevan?
UtaLevan started as a creative duo (together with Georgian born, New York Based artist Uta Bekaia) to merge our experiences in different fields: visual arts, performance and fashion. We both are very much interested in interdisciplinary projects, where all the possible mediums are used as tools to create a one whole. We create projects, that exist in various forms: as a performance, installation, video, limited edition of prints and objects or even a T-shirt.
Generally, we both are working on our own projects separately, but sometimes, there is an idea that requires the knowledge and forces of both of us, and that’s when UtaLevan comes on stage.

 3) As a painter, why did you say that when you are abroad your works are even more reflecting your origin? And which is the difference from who is staying?
First thing you do when you appear in an environment (society or country) which is new or different for your, you start asking yourself some questions: who you are, where do you come from and how can you be related to them; what differs or makes you similar to them. Trying to find answers to these questions was almost a non-stop process for me when I moved to Buenos Aires and all my works (mainly performances) of that time were related to them. That’s actually how the idea of “Heritage” was born and that’s where its roots come from. For me it was very helpful and I can say even ‘vital’ to take the distance from my country, culture and society, to see and analyse lot of things more clearly and precisely.

dash-art-night-interview-rich-mix4) As an artist, do you think that developing skills in different artistic areas will be the direction where contemporary art is going?
I think we – as artists – live in a very advantageous but at the same time challenging time: today, when it’s almost impossible to define what IS art and what IS NOT, when absolutely any practice can be presented AS ART, depending the context in which it is shown, it seems almost impossible to define what would be the future of art or how it would look like in nearest decade or so. Blurred frontiers between disciplines help artists to easily browse and switch between them and we got less strictly defined ‘painting’, sculpture’ or ‘drawing’. But at the same time there is a big number of artists interested in so cold ‘traditional’ disciplines and consciously and purposely developing their artistic practices within those limits.

5) Considering yourself just a human being, why did you say that if you refuse your past, you can not be part of your future, so you will not develop and grown? I really like this concept, and I hope you’ll explain us better.
I mentioned that concept during our artist talk regarding the actual state of contemporary society in Georgia; after Soviet Union was collapsed and Georgia became an independent country aspiring western values and models, we immediately erased (or pretended to do so) recent 70 years of Soviet past. There were attempts to demolish any visual traces of that period. Main concern was to make things ‘look like’ new, ‘western’, ‘European’ or whatever their idea of ‘western’ and of ‘European’ was. That’s what I was referring to: without deeper critical analyzes, without working for changes in mentality, approaches and value systems, only superficial ‘visual’ changes would never bring any results. By just ignoring the past, without trying to find problems and resolving them, one can’t start building a new life, new society or new country.

Our 3 questions to Tato Akhalkatsishvili

Tato-Akhalkatsishvili-Heritage-exhibition-London-Georgian-artist1) How did you find out that you wanted to be an artist? I think that Georgia that time wasn’t really open to arts. Or do you think it was more than today?
I’m painting since I remember myself, from very early childhood. Though I think very inspiring and encouraging, was the fact that my grandfather was working with glass and his studio was a magic world for me, all the materials and tools I was seeing were guiding me to a completely different, fascinating world. I even never questioned myself what I would become, but I knew I will be an artist.

2) The situation you were describing at Rich Mix, saying that you were feeling frustrated since, after 1989, none was really reacting and everyone was living the same life as before, is really the same situation we’re seeing in Italy. Do you think it’s something culture and artists can change?
Yes I think that culture and artists can trigger changes, but first of all the country itself, I mean government, should help it too, since the only official mechanism of culture in country remains the Ministry of Culture, and this institution should start prioritizing promotion of culture and art.

3) What is the role of an artist living in Georgia in 2015 along with your experience?
For me, and it’s a very personal opinion of mine, I think that artists in post-soviet countries, should first of all try to free themselves as much as possible from all those old stereotypes.  These changes would influence the public conscious in general and I think it would inspire a more open, free and alternative mode of thinking and would change the perception of reality and the world.


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direct Link to article



HUFFINGTON POST: Multimedia Reflections on Georgian Heritage and Identity

Huffington Post HERITAGE

Multimedia Reflections on Georgian Heritage and Identity.

by Katerina Zherebtsova


I have always been fascinated by Georgian culture. The sensuality, self irony, delicacy, tact and tradition – its neorealist qualities, brought to life with a unique cultural aesthetic, through the cinematic lense and prism of the arts. Georgian arts offer an encounter with a deep breathtaking narrative that any artbuff is so longing for – a challenging, intelligent conversation that ruffles the mind, warms the eye, and whips the thoughts.

This is why ‘HERITAGE’, the multimedia art project by cARTveli Art foundation in collaboration with RichMix and Dash Arts, has been long awaited and received with the high acclaim by the London’s art scene, as well as long term celebrity supporters like Katie Melua.

“Without critically analysing our past, we can’t start something new”, says Levan Mindiashvili, multimedia artist, who created the concept for the HERITAGE exhibition and invited other artists, whose work is a dialogue between their past and their current environment, to participate.


Levan’s work Archives depicts the mentality of the transitional generation, who were left to piece together an identity from an array of opposing influences, like that of the communist childhood and the Westernised present. “The way history was taught at Georgian schools, was always a mixture of morbid war details and adoration of death, fascination of battle and sacrificing your life for your country,” comments Levan. “This image was so strong for me: red, blood, the person has to die for the country”.

The end of the communist era brought with it the instant westernisation of Georgian culture, as contrast to everything communist, it filled every pore of society with new references, consumer goods and its manifests of freedom. But transitions like this can’t happen suddenly argues Levan. “You can’t just erase the past and refuse to recognise the mentality and values that you were brought up with. It’s not an instant process to recognise that, but now enough time has passed, to take a critical look”.

Archives portray the past and present, interwoven by a juxtaposition of communist references and customised IKEA lightboxes, IKEA being the signifier and the ultimate idea of the West. The symbolic objects that relate to the history of the country: bible, icon, small pioneer leader doll and bloodied body parts of feet and fists which were cast from Levan’s father are placed on top of archive papers with notes, yet which are unreadable, erased, existing only as paper. All the body parts were cast from Levan’s father and the facemask is of Levan himself. “This is how traditions are passed in Georgia, from father to son, it is a big part of our identity and culture and I wanted to capture that”.


Levan says that his own moment of truth was going to study abroad to Argentina. “Who am I, where do I come from, how can I relate to a different culture? My works during these three years were around the past. The distance helps you a lot to think and analyse. When I was living in Georgia, I really was feeling the urge to leave the country, I needed to see and experience other things. Now when I’m coming back to Georgia or I’m working on something related to it, I feel closer to it, I am more conscious about my culture”.

One of his other works for the exhibition is the map of Tbilisi from 1927 – full of green – a mythologised version from the communist time that Levan remembers from his childhood years. This work starts a new series, which are in the making, of studying contemporary urbanisation and its effects on the citizens. ” I believe that architecture depicts how a country is developing, with historical influences being most pronounced in building construction. I want to use Tbilisi as a metaphor and talk about universal problems and questions”.

Urban structures is a theme running through Irakli Bugiani’s paintings for HERITAGE, who studied old photo archives of soviet and post soviet structures across cities and countries, to find that they are identical in their presence. His works, Sovieticum, explore the dynamics between the buildings and the environment, the effect of the omnipresent faceless architecture and towering concrete. My personal view – Feelings of grounded predictability and other forms of entrapment by architecture.




Feelings of entrapment are echoed by Tato, the only artist from this group, who is still residing in Tbilisi. Tato’s ‘Conversations’ are a metaphor of a mental state in which the previous generations have lived in – without way out or an exit. They are not really conversations as such, but a monologue with the self. A monologue of life without an exit, surrounded by concrete and looking at life through a hole, or from an empty swimming pool – a condition which haunts generations and doesn’t offer the distance needed to facilitate a conversation.





Uta Bekaia’s works are a study of traditions, biological, genetic heritage, everything we inherit on an unconscious level, without being influenced by historical events. His work Fua Sia Tata Sia is inspired by the Mingrelian spells performed by his grandmother. Bekaia, according to Levan, is fascinated by these traditions and value codes that are built into us by family rituals. This particular spell is reproduced exactly as performed by his grandmother, when in his child years Bekaia was loosing his tooth. The work is presented in two parts: a tapestry depicting the tooth and the embroidery of the spell with the letterings provided by Uta’s mother, word for word, as told to her by her mother. There is something incredibly sacred and full of energy about this work.



Sacralisation of the past is the theme of Christian Tonhaiser’s works. The only non-Georgian, Tonhaiser comes from Argentina, but with a rich European heritage. Tonhaiser presents twelve objects – photographs enclosed into antique frames. At first glance the commonality between them is unclear. Yet, a closer look reveals precious moments from the family archive, depicting special milestones: first photograph of his grandmother, which she sent to her future husband in Argentina (handwritten on the back, to my beloved husband whom I’m looking forward to meet). His first serious love, his childhood toy. The photographs placed in antique frames are reminiscent of sacred icons, and a curious study into an individual’s search for an identity through his past, shaped by the family archive.


The opening of the exhibition screened a diploma film by Tamuna Karumidze, Zahesi 708 (2001). A week in Tbilisi follows its inhabitants through their daily life – a neorealist tribute and a curious one to watch and admire, which vividly depicts the conflicts of the transitional mentality, which Levan mentions in his works.


It seems, heritage cannot be understood from the boundaries of a single country, increasingly it’s a wider debate, as our lives go through so many transitions and changes. By opening this field, HERITAGE starts a critical conversation about the variety of points of references for our identities, from socio economic, to mystic and educational.

“People just receive their reality, they are not aware that they are responsible for their life. It’s not an inert process. Any change can be started by critical approach to the past, says Levan.”

HERITAGE first edition, as Levan refers to it, took place at the National Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi in November 2013. From 7-31 January 2015, HERITAGE 2 came to London’s Rich Mix, with each artist creating a special work with references that could be more easily understood by a foreign audience. Levan is currently working on taking HERITAGE to New York.

Follow Katerina Zherebtsova on Twitter:www.twitter.com/@KatiaCavallo

To see the article on the web click here


Crossing The Boundaries.03 | AT388 Rotterdam



Tato Akhalkatsishvili
Uta Bekaia
Irakli Bugiani
Levan Mindiashvili
Cristian Tonhaiser

AT388 is pleased to announce the second edition of Crossing The Boundaries – a series of group exhibitions co-curated by Levan Mindiashvili – exploring the limits within different artistic expressions and concepts. Participating artists Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Uta Bekaia, Irakli Bugiani, Levan Mindiashvili and Cristian Tonhaiser are working with topics such as Identity and Memory. These artists are investigating social and cultural structures that influence formation of our Identity and comunal memory that marks our perception and worldview.

Opening reception: Sunday, June 22, 5 pm.
The show is on display until July 27.

Lodewijk Pincoffsweg 388, 3071 AS Rotterdam, Netherlands
T. 0103410771 | 0643922379
Gallery Hours: Wed – Sat 2 to 6 pm and by appointment.



Spotlights on Contemporary Art from Georgia


DHADAMUSCONTEMPORARY is pleased to announce Spotlights on Contemporary Art from Georgia – a group show featuring works of Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Irakli Bugiani, Uta Bekaia, Levan Mindiashvili and Cristian Tonhaiser

opening: December 4, 2013 at 7 pm.

Tour & Taxis, Avenue du port 86/c, Unit 4A,

1000 Brussels, Belgium

the show runs until December 31st, 2013.



INTO THE NIGHT @ Artarea/Tv2.0



features a series “Whispers” by Levan Mindiashvili, sculpture installation by Uta Bekaia and video projections by Cristian Tonhaiser.

The opening on Wednesday, November 20, 7 pm. will feature performance by Ketato and Uta Bekaia



10 D. Abashidze st. 0102 Tbilisi, Georgia





BERLINER LISTE 2013 | September 18 – 22

DHADAMUSCONTEMPORARY (Brussels - Buenos Aires) | Booth G0.28 | BERLINER LISTE 2013
DHADAMUSCONTEMPORARY (Brussels – Buenos Aires) | Booth G0.28 | BERLINER LISTE 2013

During Berlin Art Week | September 18 – 22
DHADAMUSCONTEMPORARY (Brussels – Buenos Aires) presents the recent works of
Levan Mindiashvili, Uta Bekaia, Irakli Bugiani, Cristian Tonhaiser, Tato Akhalkatsishvili and Omar Yamil at the BERLINER LISTE 2013.

Booth G0.28

Opening: Wednesday, September 18, 6pm in Kraftwerk Mitte and Tresor club
First Choice for VIPs and press: Wednesday, September 18, 3pm

Fair location: Kraftwerk Berlin | Köpenicker Straße 70 | 10179 Berlin Mitte



You Are Here Group show by LeonidesArts NY

You Are Here _ Levan Mindiashvili

“You Are Here”, a group art exhibition featuring artists that are represented by the LeonidesArts Gallery NY. LeonidesArts features the work of fresh, bold, and unique contemporary artists based in the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean focusing primarily in painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media.

This exhibit explores the idea of location, both literally and figuratively in concept. Artists featured in this exhibit include Ricardo Osmondo Francis, Levan Mindiashivili, Cristian Tonhasier, Zilka Rosa Molinar, and Mark Vinsun

The exhibit is curated by Ricardo Osmondo Francis. Francis is currently the Curator on Residence at the Hudson Pride Connections Center in Jersey City and is the Gallery Director for the LeonidesArts Gallery in NYC.

“You Are Here” will also include a silent auction (with starting bids at just a fraction of the actual retail price) of selected works from the exhibition.


Here’s To Life – group show at 32 Jones Gallery

Curated by Ricardo Osmondo Francis 

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 3 pm to 6 pm
Closing Date: January 8, 2013

Artists: Levan Mindiashvili, Cristian Tonhaiser, Uta Bekaia, Willie Baez, Darin Defield, Monica Holder, Ricardo Osmondo Francis, Seth Ruggles Hiler, Jae Quinlan, Alex “Alukotron” Lutomirski, Joya Angola Thompson, Mark Vinsun

Performance by Kevon Simpson at 4 pm during the opening reception

32 Jones Gallery at Hudson Pride Connections Center
32 Jones St.  Jersey City, NJ 07306 | Gallery Hours: Tue – Fri. 11AM – 6 PM

Ricardo Osmondo Francis 917 279 5576
www.hudsonpride.org |www.leonidesarts.org


Fuchsbau Festival, Hannover

September 1 & 2, 2012 Hannover



Über das ganze Gelände verteilt gibt es ganz viel Kreatives zu entdecken, dass dich zum jauchzen bringen wird. Stolz präsentiern wir Kunst von:

Levan Mindiashvili [NYC] | Irakli Bugiani [Georgien] | Julian Prieß | Jonathan Heidorn | Cristian Tonhaiser [Argentinien] | Mansha Friedrich | Roxana Rios | Ju Munoz | Shantala Fels | Kevin Münkel | Amanda Reynods [NYC] | Julius Klaus | Ciara Mission Engelhardt

» Die Fotografien, Videoinstallationen, Zeichnungen und Grafiken sind im Saal und im Basement ausgestellt. Verschiedene Urban Art Kollektive sowie Street Art Künstler nehmen das Bad in Besitz und verwandeln es in das Wi-Wa-Wunderland, das wir Fuchsbau nennen.