Niko Pirosmani (Fondation Beyeler)
Sam Keller, Daniel Baumann
Fondation Beyeler & Hatje Cantz, 2023
Rarely seen Pirosmani masterpieces from the Georgian National Museum, accompanying the Fondation Beyeler’s major exhibition.
The art of the legendary Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani (1862–1918) spoke to all, from people otherwise uninterested in art to avant-garde artists and writers. Painted around the turn of the century in a flourishing Tbilisi, his portraits, animal paintings, landscapes and scenes from everyday life draw on medieval iconography and testify to a deeply felt sense of belonging. Like Henri Rousseau or Marc Chagall, Pirosmani is one of the exceptional and uncategorizable innovators of early modern art. This catalog demonstrates Pirosmani’s painterly qualities in numerous illustrations, showing how his rapid brushstrokes on black oilcloth give the sparsely applied colors a glow as if emerging from a dark depth. As expertly explained here by Georgian art historians, Pirosmani was a contradictory figure and an important part of the art scene in Tbilisi, then considered the “Paris of the East.”