We are thrilled to present the retrospective exhibition of the unique Georgian painter - Fridon Nizharadze, who lived and worked in Ushguli, Svaneti. The works presented in the exposition which reside in Ushguli, the house-museum of the painter, are brought to our space temporarily.
Nizharadze's visions emerge from the surroundings of historical monuments and mythical natural landscapes, yet are metaphysical, transcending the traditional realms of perception. In his psychedelic universe, culture, nature, religion, and mythology are reflected as free symbols, forming harmonious unity. With each literary parallel and allegory, the author presents the viewer with a riddle, full of irony and playfulness.
The expressive techniques and symbolic references, implored by Fridon Nizharadze cover diverse media and thought traditions. The scenes presented in artworks, which are executed in traditional (oil on canvas) and experimental (collage, felt-tip pen, gouache) media, are as much mythical as they are mundane. The exposition covers paintings, graphics and collage works from the 70s to the last years of 2010 and makes it possible to see the author's path of artistic development.
In parallel with the author's works, the exhibition presents a full-length documentary film by French director Jean Boggio Pola, dedicated to the work of Fridon Nizharadze.
Fridon Nizharadze was born on August 25, 1944 in the village of Ushguli, Mestia District.
He started painting at a preschool age and he painted with everything and on everything. He used a pencil, snow, mud, sand, hands, stones, sticks, lime etc. He used to draw towers, nature, as well as fairy-tale characters.
Fridon’s talent made everybody talk during his school years. An interesting story is related to the famous artist Bela Berdzenishvili, who accidentally met Fridon during a trip to Ushguli and was so fascinated by the little boy’s drawings that she gave him her own easel and paints.
After graduating from school, Fridon Nizharadze continued his studies at the Kutaisi Mining Technical School. Then he was enlisted in military service for 3 years. While in the army, Fridon often made graphic sketches. There are portraits of him and his friends from this period, which he sent home along with the letters.
After the army, in 1967-1973, Fridon Nizharadze studied at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and, like many other students, did not hide his negative attitude towards the Soviet regime.
During this period he was admitted to a psychiatric clinic…
After graduating from the Academy, Fridon returned to Svaneti and started working at the middle school in Ushguli. Besides drawing and painting he taught astronomy, which he was very interested in since childhood. His works from this period mainly depict the classical landscapes of Svaneti, Ushguli, and later his own imaginary views of Svaneti. After all, Fridon lived at the highest point of Ushguli - the highest settlement point in Europe.
Since the 80s, Fridon Nizharadze has worked at the Chazhashi Museum in Ushguli. From this time on, the theme of his works changed completely.
It is difficult to comprehend his compositions without the author, although there is no doubt that each of his works is the result of contemplation about the arrangement of the world, and the fusion of different religions, histories, and traditions. The same goes for his poems. By this time these works were very unpopular, causing controversy among local officials. Nevertheless, the author still managed to create unique works, which were initially perceived with fear and distrust by the family members as well as by the visitors, only to be followed by their unhidden admiration.
Later, after the opening of the borders, Fridon Nizharadze’s workshop turned into one of the most remarkable spaces in Ushguli, where the flow of Georgian and foreign visitors never stops at any time of the year.
Today, the host and guardian of this living museum are the artist’s brother Temur Nizharadze and his family.
There are numerous articles about the artist published in the Georgian and foreign press, as well as TV shows and documentaries.
In 1998, French director Jean Boggio Pola released a full-length documentary film dedicated to the work of Fridon Nizharadze.
In 2016, director Gavriel Gavrielov filmed a series of short documentaries about the artist’s life.
In 2019, the artist’s personal exhibition was held at the Tbilisi History Museum - Caravanserai.
Fridon Nizharadze passed away on November 13, 2020.