During the early years of the new millennium, several like-minded young artists presented their first group show in Mannheim, Germany, far from their home country. In 2004, at the Tbilisi based gallery Universe, Georgian visitors were introduced to the group Figurative Art Studio (Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Levan Mindiasjvili, Malkhaz Datashvili and Irakli Bugiani). “The Lost Ones,” an exhibition curated by Sophia Kilasonia, focused on complex social and cultural issues and offered reflections on the theme of collective memory. At a time when artists of the same generation were chiefly interested in multimedia works and conceptual practices, this exhibition became the Georgian version of “new figurativeness” in the history of modern Georgian art which developed in an era that was marked by numerous challenges. The extraordinary individuality of each group member was patently obvious from the first exhibitions. Since the very beginning of his artistic career, Tato Akhalkatsishvili has perceived the landscape as constituting a central component of his works. Akhalkatsishvili's landscapes developed over the years, with the incorporation of various technical and conceptual experiments, and are characterized by certain enigmatic features, despite the fact that they may represent realistically depicted geographic sites, or occasionally deliberately blurred images that are distant from any specific or real context. The artist creates images of imaginary relationships with the afterlife based on a precarious mix of sensations, memories, and unconscious experiences.

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. EGO SUM UNICUM EXITUS. 152x300. Mixed media on canvas. 2020

On the other hand, the works begin to tell specific stories and reveal the integrated photo-characters. When looking at a family album full of similar personal and subjective memories, there follows a vague renewal of early feelings; specific but anonymously preserved facts about the photos develop into themes such as loneliness, mystery, calling, departing, childhood etc. They tell the stories of different psychological states, where empathy with childhood traumas and yet unexplained borderline moments are shown in a particularly sensitive way. These works depict the process in which the surrounding world flows as a sequence of unrecognizable images, comprehension of which requires “to reverse time.”

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. Exhibition "Eccentric Traveler" at D.Shevardnadze National Gallery

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. Exhibition "Eccentric Traveler" at D.Shevardnadze National Gallery

Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s paintings are unconventional and sensitive, his imagination – broad and diverse. Several motifs presented at the multi-section exposition of the National Gallery are united around the visual equivalents arising from poetic and philosophical reflections on the notion of travel.

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. UNTITLED PICTURES OF INDEFINITE FUTURE. 150x200. Oil, canvas. 2020.

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. 120x200. Oil, canvas. 2021

The solo show presents a kind of summary of an intense process that took place during recent years. It focuses on several landmark paintings (EGO SUM UNICUM EXITUS, Untitled Image of the Indefinite Future, Echoes, etc.), which present highly artistic equivalents of complex psychological and emotional constructions, and accordingly share important experiences with the audience. The Eccentric Traveler is a large-scale exhibition that was effectively produced as a result of knowledge about the latest trends in the medium of painting and an authentic vision. The exhibition presents large-format multi-figure works made in the style of magical realism, as well as laconic signs and images alongside the author’s original versions of landscapes. Tato Akhalkatsishvili's work is distinguished by its artistic quality, which characterizes internationally acclaimed art in general and is an important part of Georgian creative processes.

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. Exhibition "Eccentric Traveler" at D.Shevardnadze National Gallery

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. Exhibition "Eccentric Traveler" at D.Shevardnadze National Gallery

Tato Akhalkatsishvili. Exhibition "Eccentric Traveler" at D.Shevardnadze National Gallery

The Eccentric Traveler wanders through the past and the future, beyond time, into Javakheti, the Gareja desert, an airfield, and spirit-inhabited forests, abandoned buildings and endless trails, to the Marshall Islands and alien rituals, into his own and another’s dreams. Tato Akhalkatsishvili is an eccentric traveler who invites the audience to enter paintings that have neither door nor key. He might not allow you into the landscapes that you need to approach face to face and wait for them to begin communicating. At the same time, this is a journey filled with new discoveries about the infinite possibilities of painting.