I´ve come across Niko Pirosmani (1862 – 1918) for the first time during my explorations of Sergej Paradjanov´s films. In 1985 he dedicated a short to the Georgian painter: „Arabesques on the Pirosmani Theme“ („ Arabeskebi Pirosmanis temaze“). One can easily find it on youtube.
So I thin it´s great that the Albertina presents this not so very well-knwon artist and that several of the patinings from the film made it into the exhibition.
Pirosmani – orphan, autodidact, outsider in the middle of society – often offered his services as a painter in exchange for a meal. His pictures are not of a sophisticated artistic virtuosity, but they speak of dreameries and delight – they were not for art salons and galleries, but should attract and please the tavernas´ customers. Dreameries possibly because of the sheerness and sharp contrasts of the colours often painted on black wax cloth; or because the scenes could easily be placed during the night and twilight times; or because they do contain slightly surrealistic elements; or because of the portraits of animals Pirosmani only knew by description, like the one of a giraffe. Towards the end of his life the Russian avantguarde were attracted by his authenticity and primitiveness – something the artist himself maybe was never made aware of. Homeless and impoverished he died in a cellar in Tiflis. The paintings of this strange and myterious painter, though, shine on undiminished.
Header & 1: Niko Pirosmani, Tatarischer Obsthändler, Öl auf Karton, Georgisches Nationalmuseum © Infinitart Foundation
2: Niko Pirosmani, Giraffe, Öl auf Wachstuch, Georgisches Nationalmuseum © Infinitart Foundation
3: Niko Pirosmani, Die Schauspielerin Margarita, Öl auf Wachstuch, Georgisches Nationalmuseum © Infinitart Foundation
4: Niko Pirosmani, Großer Marani im Wald, Öl auf Blech, Georgisches Nationalmuseum © Infinitart Foundation