The first-ever presentation in Northern Europe of the work of Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918), Georgia’s most famous artist and a mythical figure in the story of early modernist art. Showcasing around fifty, rarely seen Pirosmani masterpieces on loan from the Georgian National Museum.
There is something almost mythical about the story of Pirosmani, who lived and worked in Tbilisi around the turn of the last century. As the exhibition will show, the simple, gleaming depictions of people and wildlife by this self-taught sign painter and penniless vagabond place Pirosmani as an outstanding exponent of early modern art.
Naivity as power
When it comes to the work of Pirosmani, the image comes first. Pirosmani’s blunt images are monumentally simple, with their colours gleaming against the black canvas background. In a sense, they are images for and in the public space. They are certainly neither private nor psychological.
They are about human space, people encountering animals, people eating together and people moving about. The power emanating from these images is simple, yet sophisticated, because the images are so effective. With a few brushstrokes, Pirosmani transformed the mundane into something extraordinary, creating icons of glowing intensity.
5 artists on Niko Pirosmani
A love-sick giraffe?
Even while Pirosmani was still alive, rumour had it that his iconic black and white giraffe was in fact a self-portrait. If you look closely, you will see that it is weeping - Pirosmani has placed a tear in the corner of the eye. Could this be a symbol of an unhappy love story?
One is indeed tempted to think so, as one the many myths, closely connected to the life of the artist is the one about his painting of French actress Margarita. The story goes that Pirosmani was allegedly so in love with her that he bought all the flower bouquets of Tbilisi’s and strewed them across the road to her hotel, which she had unfortunately just vacated.
An avant-garde discovery
The myths about Pirosmani are many, not least because of this naivety - but there is no indication that he was naive. With Pirosmani, one must first of all look at the strength of the image.
To a rare extent, already in his lifetime Pirosmani's art spoke to all, from people in the street and in taverns to avant-garde artists and writers. His art bridged worlds, it celebrated a feeling of belonging and dedication.
This places Pirosmani as an important figure in the history of modern art's break with the classical tradition and the search for other, more authentic expressions.
A worker of miracles! Pirosmani's works form the crux of Georgia's artistic life. That he can now be experienced at Louisiana is nothing less than a sensation. The discovery of this artist is a gift to the history of world art.
This show is a magical experience: Pirosmani is one of those artists who doesn't look like anyone else. He is truly special, and his paintings of fiddlers, drinking parties, highway robbers, women in folk costume, religious celebrations and domestic as well as exotic animals emanate a glowing, magical radiance.
Pirosmani was a visual artist of international format and with an international perspective. Yet another good reason to pay Louisiana a visit! And do bring the whole family. The exhibition can be enjoyed by anyone without special knowledge of art. Your children and grandchildren will love it!
Though hitherto unknown in this part of the world, Pirosmani's fascinating, iconic paintings are highly prized in his homeland. Now Louisiana brings him out in a Danish light, and Pirosmani really sets the art experience on fire and burns through, also for a modern art audience.
SVT - Swedish Broadcasting Company News
He depicts animals as people and people as animals - straightforwardly without attempting to psychologize. A fact that makes the artist's paintings both self-evident and mysterious – a kind of magical realism. Well done Louisiana!
One cannot help but fall deeply in love with Pirosmani's pictures. Louisiana bringing such a large collection of his pictures to Denmark is surely an important step towards ensuring that his work can continue to inspire and captivate audiences all over the world and give him a deserved place in art history.
Sydsvenskan + Helsingborgs Dagblad
Shimmering with black light... These are images that etch themselves onto my retina with an archetypal power.
With a few brushstrokes, Pirosmani transformed the mundane into something extraordinary, creating icons of glowing intensity.
The exhibition is organised jointly by the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel and Louisiana and realised in cooperation with the Georgian National Museum and the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Youth of Georgia, generously supported by the Infinitart Foundation.
All images: The Collection of Shalva Amiranashvili Museum of Fine Arts of Georgia, © Infinitart Foundation