Zurab Gulishvilli’s refined work, whether we look at his drawings, collages or sculptures, embraces, in a tender and reminiscent way, never too firm, the historical and the modified, the aesthetic and the personal, the usual and the ethereal. Georgia, where Gulishvilli was born and raised, is present, at times, in his work. However, Georgia’s history, particularly its political history, is not a subject matter, which, in any way, marks Gulishvilli’s work. On the contrary, Georgia is present only in an evocative way, pregnant with innuendos, which, at best, open keyholes and ink jar bottles to let loose other possibilities moved by a Georgian landscape, which borders on other backgrounds. The mountains of the Caucasus are between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and this site of the Caucasus is filled with traces of images. Just as the geographies and cultural influences of Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijian, which surround Georgia, are strongly present in historic, present-day, and imagined Georgia. In his work, the sense of ‘belonging’ to a place and history seems to be playfully suspended. Even so, there is no remnant of bitterness or nostalgia for any cultural or political displacement suggested or experienced.
Zurab Gulishvilli’s drawings and collages often suggest an Arcadian world where dreams and real life marry. The imagery of the breathtaking mountains of the Caucasus reside in his older, and new work. From playful children’s slides, which do not seem to begin or end anywhere as is the innocence of childhood fantasy, landscapes ‘acting’ as stage props, the idolization of historical/political figures, and representations of a ‘home’, Gulishvilli consistently returns to the inspiring game of ‘locating’ where the potential of a transforming power may be looming. In these works of collage, he has collected photographs from archival magazines and manipulated them to connect possibly historic figures, and an imagined mass of ideologues. As in his collage titled, Belonging 1, the erasure of this figure’s forehead seems to understate the value of lineage here. Instead, in its foresight appears a decorative stroke. The aesthetic in Zurab Gulishvilli’s work is never side-lined. On the contrary, his aesthetic interventions on political ‘stuff’, pronounce the importance of his form without, however, jeopardizing its content.