For the first question I usually ask everybody the same. How did you start? And when did you start? Tell us something about the begining of how you got in touch with being creative.
Creativity in me started at school. Teachers got angry when I was drawing on the desks to making it cooler. Sketching during the lessons and being “unproductive” at school sounds like a statement of lazy pupils but I knew what I wanted. After all, I had fun, improved drawing skills and got into art. I was approximately 10 years old when creation processes touched my soul. There was a pure will of being a creator. It was a strong decision when I answered to my parents what I wanted for the future. To be an artist!
How was it to do art in Georgia and in your hometown. Tell ow do you connect with other artists there? And how is the acceptance in the city? Are there galleries and events? Do the people understand and like it, or do they go against it? How is the acceptance?
I grew up in a small village, called Gantiadi, its population like 500 people. Let me tell you about the acceptance. In my village everybody was excited cause there are not a lot of people who choose the way of being an artist. In the capital city, I met a bunch of people who make art in a pure way of expression. Illustrators, street artists, sculpturors, fine artists who show mostly their perception of society. There is lack of self awareness and independence cause Georgia is a post Soviet country and cultural taste and open mind is weak. If you want to connect to art – you have to be with love and you will be as well with fear. The “cancer” of USSR is still alive. It blocks and eats free minds and souls. But there are also other symbols of fighting: Bravery and facing reality, which is strong in the generation born after 1985. Art is luxury or unnecessary here. But after all, art is just a part of humanity. So, it is a complex circle.
I would say you are a painter and you do interesting characters, portraits and landscapes, mostly abstract works. You do it on canvas or wood or whatever material, but as well you do it on walls and in the urban space. But you are not into the lettering part and the graffiti. You don’t write letters, you paint objects, people or views. So you are more a street artist? How would you describe yourselves’s doings? Or let’s say, how would you position yourself especially on the artworks on the street. Did you try to write letters at some point or was it immediately the portraing?
I use different materials to do pieces. I mostly used platforms like canvases, walls and tablets. I’m not a person who chooses one way. I prefer to be able to do many things. Everything starts from a will. I believe there is a good energy within me, the creative one and almost everything what I do, I learned by myself. Therefore, I use a lot of materials and strange things to get specific textures. I think we need to grow the area of interests. I would call myself more a mural artist than a graffer, but I have ideas about letters cause they are specific messages for society. Doing streetart is a huge responsibility. Because when an artist paints outside where viewers come along or just pass, those people are still percepting and getting into the process. Therefore the artist should not be selfish. But on a personal exhibition, there it is necessary to be selfish as an artist. Streetart is part of architecture and it effects our minds.
I looked at a lot of your paintings and it is clear that your are more into the characters. But letters and characters fit cool together and especially on jams and collaborations events a lot of artists can put their creations together. How is it in Georgia and at your place? Do you have events, jams or festivals? And do you like to participate at such events?
Yeah, there are street art festivals but rarely. I do participate every year on street are festivals since 2017. There is a disappointment when organizers prefer to invite famous street artists from another countries to paint whole buildings and make huge murals. But the important thing is that they do not know our culture, can not feel the flavour and importance to know the city and the society. But of course, they have great techniques for sure and they are fantastic artists!
Are you in a crew, collective, an art group or a team?
I’m not a in a “crew” prefer to be solo performer cause it’s more challenging. But I’m still a great and crazy team player for projects!
Let´s speak about the motifs you choose. Sometimes a landscape, sometimes a portrait, but mostly abstract and with something dreaming in it. When I look on your artworks it gives me a mix of utopia and graphic splitting up. Some kind of deep thinking and empathy, as well mixed with graphic structures here and there. These are just some first thought I had while admiring your wonderful artworks. Tell us more about it by yourself.
The area of interests are subconscious, human dark side and the universe. We are part of it. There is a dialog between the universe and us. My motifs are basically questions about life. When we are struggling, stuck and filled with fear, that’s because we have not answers. What we need to do is to ask the right questions to the universe. I’m in the searching process to connect my higher self and enjoy with life. I just want to stay authentic, creative and traveller soul.
Do you have open and free spaces for do painting art outside? Especially in your hometown but also in your country in general? Do you have open spray places where everybody can paint? And what happens in Georgia if you do illegal painting on urban space. How are the penalties?
Here in Georgia it is still illegal to paint in the streets. Generally it’s necessary because some artists don’t realize effect of art and just spraying everywhere without concept and messages. There is architecture what doesn’t need any painting on it. From the beginning the idea of graffiti was to paint letters which are filled with protest and ideas. But now there are dudes just spraying everywhere own nicknames in low quality and no style. The city needs free places and streets where streetart is legal. We haven’t places like that. The penalties are starting from like 200 Dollars. The amount depends on the specific place which you colored up..
I watched some of your videos on your YouTube channel. You have very interesting clips! One video is from the Street Art Fest of 2020, tell us something about this festival and what you painted there.
The festival in the capital city of Sakartvelo in Georgia in 2020 was another step of testing my skills. Participating in a street art festival was challenging. There I created two murals. It was the biggest two walls I ever tried before and during that I got some new technical experience. There I created the paintings “Night Walk” and “The Search”.
There are also other videos on your YouTube channel where you document how you create your paintings. But you also explain and give advice. You also want to teach others to be creative and the videos are like little tutorials. Tell us more about that.
Actually, I’m so bad at teaching others but trying to share my experience also to improve my personality. Cause I do not want to be an artist who paints and doesn’t share experiences. I have one video about how to varnish paintings and that’s cool.
You also have a lot of artworks that I wouldn’t title “paintings” but rather “drawings”. They are much more delicate and very emotive. By that I mean the sketches with pencil or graphite and also the drawings with ink. Tell us more about those part of your work.
Every artist starts with a pencil to feel the flavor of visuals. Black and white dimensions. Shadows and lighting. The contrast between shapes. I often draw with inks, black pencils, and charcoal, and in digital as well. Here is the interesting thing when you do freestyle with shadows and your mind finds some visuals in them. It’s a reflection of our subconscious mind and we never know what our shadows reflect.
You come from the village of Gantiadi. There you can certainly see some of your artworks. Are there other artworks of yours somewhere in other places in Georgia or other countries?
I have murals in 4 cities in my country. In the Capital city, Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Telavi and Dmanisi. Where designed walls in the universities. But in November I was participating in Art Camp Malta 2022 and I created 2 oil paintings in Malta, during the UNESCO’s festival. they were exhibited in the museum of archeology in Valetta.
Did you have exhibitions yet or did you take part on group exhibitions? Or something like that? Like an event for showing your art to the public?
I had a couple of group exhibitions with other artists in Sakartvelo and in Malta, on 16th of November 2022. Recently I’m working on a solo exhibition with oil paintings on canvases. I’m going to create 12 pieces about the metaphysical existence of human beings. The exhibition will be called ” Let your dark out “. I believe that it’s important to research and express our dark side cause it’s also our part. It seems quite dangerous and feels shamed when we discover our dark side but it’s necessary to deal with it.
Do you do other art besides painting and drawing? Do you make music or write? And how important are other art genres for you in your creative process?
I started writing poetry when I was a teenager. That was the way of my emotions but then I started making rap music with poetry. The Georgian language is luxurious with expressionism in poetry. We have great poets and writers. Nowadays, we have rap artists and musicians who make rap music with musicality and so as I. But I’ve not recorded it in the studios yet. I play guitar and piano as well. I became a singer this year and it sounds crazy to even to me. sometimes I play guitar and sing in the streets. that was my first recording but I improved my voice after that believe me – lol.
.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxx9QW_Y14c p.s. I do beatbox
As a final question, what message would you like to share with other artists, other creative people, and readers?
I’m not a guru, but I had to say one thing to others. Think about your uniqueness, dark side, and things that you love and that you don’t. We can learn from everything. We are more amazing than we think. Culture and information that are spread out often lie. If we are scared and feel stuck in a life that’s because we have no answers. Then fear comes. The only thing we can do is ask healthy questions. There is love and fear in this universe. Just keep the search to find your higher self. The gods are within us. Maybe we are gods… So, I wish you unlimited energy and inspiration who are you reading my words. Best regards from Sakartvelo ; )
Artist: VAZHA KAVLELASHVILI
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