Exploring Georgian modernist theater design through Petre Otskheli
Author: By Jennifer Walker
The Kutaisi born artist and theater designer, Petre Otskheli, had a revolutionary effect on Georgian theater throughout the 20th century. Born in 1907, Petre Otskhelli was one of the most prominent Georgian avant-garde artists of his time and was especially recognized for his contribution to the theatrical arts in the 1920s and 1930s. At the age of 30, Otskheli was put to death during the Stalinist purges in 1937 on trumped up charges of treason.
The exhibition at The National Gallery in Tbilisi, running until September 10, covers a wide range of Otskheli’s artistic work from his theatrical designs to his rare easel paintings. The display opens with an introduction to the artist’s work and life.
A biography of the artist can be found side-by-side in both Georgian and English, next to an interactive consol displaying the artist’s work and additional information. Here, his three easel paintings showcase a selection of portraits painted in the 1920s, with the “Portrait of a Boy,” “Figure of Young Man,” and “The Portrait of a Chinese Woman.” In addition, some of the smaller watercolors and sketches of the artist’s set and costume designs are introduced, for the play “We, the People.”
In the next room, the exhibition explores the artist’s creative motifs and designs for a variety of plays. The most eye-catching designs, come from the production of Othello, staged by Kote Marjanishvili in 1933 in his theater in Tbilisi.