The role of art in new environments
TEXT: EVA MENGER | PHOTOS: ROB VERHAGEN/RICK STROOPER
Born in Sukhumi, a Georgian city right by the north-western coast of the Black Sea, artist Giorgi Shengelia has always been around nature. His father an artist and his mother an opera singer, an upbringing centred on exploring his surroundings and creativity laid the foundation for his future. He now lives in Bergen, North Holland, and even though the contrast to his hometown couldn’t be bigger, his artistic vision remains the same.
“My father has influenced me hugely,” Giorgi admits. “As director of the Sukhumi Art College, he encouraged me to take art lessons as a boy and I almost immediately decided that this is how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, making art. While many people enjoy creating things, I believe that being an artist is some-thing that you must inherit. It’s either rooted inside you or not.”
Leaving the homeland
When the Georgian Civil War broke out in Abkhazia in 1992-1993, Giorgi and his family were forced to flee to the country’s capital Tbilisi. Still holding on to his dream to become an artist, Giorgi enrolled in the city’s State Academy of Art and simultaneously shared a small studio with his father. It was during these years that Giorgi found his true style: the abstract, progressive and bold style that eventually took him to the Netherlands.
After a few successful years in Amsterdam, Giorgi was offered a place to live in the artistic Dutch village of Bergen in 2003. Surrounded by nature again, the sea, the woods and the quintessentially Dutch dunes of the North Sea coast are all amongst his most celebrated sources of inspiration, though his work also features more mechanical subjects such as aeroplanes and wheels. His work is a mixture of abstract and semi-figurative, often creating tension between reality and the artificial, the past and the present, the perceptible and the elusive. Recurring themes are ‘reincarnation in new environments’ and ‘the meaning of home’, given up only to explore and reinforce his desire for artistic freedom.
Keen to see his versatile and always surprising work? Giorgi is part of Gallery 32, an organisation in Bergen focused on offering a platform to national and international contemporary artists. Get in touch today to discuss opportunities.