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Alexander Zhyvotkov. Tabulae
October 1, 2018 3:00 am - November 19, 2019 3:00 am
In 2018 Alexander Zhyvotkov’s art was being celebrated in Georgia, in February the Georgian National Gallery hosted his solo exhibition. It was held in the heart of Tbilisi on Rustavelli Avenue. Hundreds of eager visitors came to the opening with a specific purpose in mind. And among the crowd Teymuraz Murvanidze, the man who undoubtedly came with a purpose. Murvanidze is rightfully considered a modern art classic, and he used the following words to verbalise for the Georgian visitor the faint whisper flowing around the three large halls of the gallery: “Modern art has been on the scene for over a century. Seems, there is nothing left to discover without making some type of an appeal to the great classics of avant-garde art. However, Zhyvotkov’s groundbreaking effort did manage to enrich the old paradigm.” Following this concise and gentle encouragement Zhyvotkov returned to his Kyiv studio. The artist was energised by the reaction he received, and in a way felt obliged to respond to Georgian hospitality; as a result, he created his new art series. In its form, that is visually and to the touch, the art series entitled The Tabulae is a natural continuation of his “tree art”, which Zhyvotkov created in 2013. The artist used an angle grinder instead of a brush to create artwork which was on the verge of the physical and intangible, art and sculpture, light and dark. It requires strength and perseverance not to fall over the edge in this dangerous game of chasing the illusive. Your arms ache, your back aches. Saw dust and the smell of burnt varnish stuff your nose up. What type of substance would choose to dwell inside the form born out of sweat and toil? Only the one which is pure, recognisable, and eternal. This is the type Zhyvotkov used previously: when he concentrated on a text, he would quote The Ecclesiast, when he was searching for a goddess, he found Ishtar. One may easily recognise similar archetypes in the Georgian culture. They are found in Zhyvotkov’s Tabulae as Rustavelli’s poetry, the Georgian horse rider, the Mother Enthroned, and a galloping horse. To complement those shapes, or rather to build them from the ground up, the floor is covered with two enormous canvases which look like… an imprint of earth. It seems like someone covered the whole of Georgia with some magic substance, pressed hard, let it dry, and showed us the imprint. What we have are the imprints. On a board. On a panel. What we have are The Tabulae. The surfaces have been cut, they are wrinkled, they contain hardly recognisable shapes which look like Tamara the Queen of Georgia, or the junction of the Kura and Aragvi rivers, or Rustavelli’s ornate writing. It all depends on how you look at it, whether you look from a human point of view, soar above with the birds, or look at it through God’s eyes…