Here's the Artist by Ulrich Krempel
There are many aspects to Gia Edzgveradze's oeuvre. They include painting, installations, working with memory, the fictitious work processes (such as the "Bride Project"), the texts, the actions and the exhibitions with artist friends and students. In his biography Gia Edzgveradze crosses many boundaries. He came to the West from Georgia, leaving behind him a culture in which the national identity was repeatedly jeopardized by the fact that Russian culture was imposed on it. Having arrived the West Gia Edzgveradze was not tempted by the art market and its niches. Instead, he lived out an independent, wild, non-conformist position attested to by his ongoing activities in all the abovementioned categories.
All the artist's actions are based on a real, hope-infused vision of the meaningfulness of artistic activity. During his time in Georgia, he had already showed himself to be a proud maker of works, presented himself with enthusiasm and pride. There, he mastered the role of the artist and in so doing enthused about the steps he had already been taken. From today's viewpoint, Gia himself considers that period and its pictures as "nostalgic and funny". After 1988, when he started to work in the West, he became intensively involved in various fields. Painting, reduced to the black and white of linear composition, predominated initially. Since then, ha has opted to move into space, whereby its limits in the form of walls are still occupied by painting, creating sculptural installations, presentations of photographic works and videos, and through his performances and openings redefining the artistic subject on site. Installations follow one another like the chapters in a large artistic life story.
His works are always about the relations between artist, artwork, observer. As early as 1997, at his presentation in the Russian pavilion at the Venice Biennial, he addressed the theme of the game for which he has come to Italy: The room is entitled “The picture and the observer” with paintings on the wall, where paintings with written messages are stacked up awaiting the observer, in which the artist looks at us as a photographic image in women’s clothing. A great variety of installations over the years culminated in this large international appearance. For example, in 1994, he had presented his painting “Mind the gap” at the Villa Merkel. And a year later he created the installation “My mummy is dead…” in the Appel Foundation in Amsterdam: It featured large canvases, videos, rice structures, a photograph and live chickens. Gradually, the rooms in which the artist works and to which he invites his public become halls of memory and imagination for the artist’s previous actions, theatrical showcases that onserve his work, such as in the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 1996, “On the border and beyond”, where next to a series of works on paper and paintings, a rice field lay scattered on the floor, and the plastic mold of human feet filled with rice and a series of stuffed carrots create a complex place of imagination. With “My father told me…”, displayed in 1997 at Michael Beck Gallery in Leipzig, once again in a large platform extends into the middle of the room and defines the walls with painting and a video. That same year he created the installation “Where are we now, just nowhere” in the Maison de la culture Namur. Once again, there are paintings on the walls in which a large shape unfolds across several panels and the title of the exhibition is written on the floor in grassy letters. Here at the very latest you can see that the artist is describing himself and his work through time, that he is presenting himself in the various stations along artistic path, a crossroads in which the pronouncements of the his mindset become ever more drastic. Another spatial installation entitled “Self portrait in general terms” went on show in 1998 in Hanover: a plinth covered in grass with integrated slippers, with large paintings by the artist, with photos and a video, with a performance by the artist in which he greets the public at the opening, borne aloft by body builder. And finally in 2000 the major installation in the Hans Mayer Gallery in Düsseldorf entitled “Prostitute, Idiot, Bitch”, in which the artist decries himself in the role of artist in an aggressive and humiliating manner. Gia doubts his role while still playing it. This can be felt in his every step. “The artist is a fool. He leaves sighs on the walls, traces for everyone who wants to come here and see. He collects the rudiments of life, relics of the presence of agents acting in space. He stages a silent theater performance. Images run and flicker beside the paintings. We see the artist, how he performs ludicrous actions. He jumps, he moves, he speaks about himself. Old memories. (my father told me:) The nasty sentences shock the viewer. The observer marvels at the harmonious room design. The artist is a fool; he jumps around in his installation like a monkey. Forever bound to his own work, in the insolubility of creative action.”
* The text was published in "Welcome foam - farewell human: Gia Edzgveradze" (2009), Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag. The first two pragraphs reflected the visual materials presented within the publication. Therefore, they are omited in this version.