Guela Tsuladze

1959 · Georgia

Artist biography

Guela Tsouladzé : Liberté Chérie Nomad from birth, Guela Tsouladzé was born on November 8, 1959 in Tbilisi, Georgia, from a French mother and a Georgian father. His father was one of the first Georgian psychanalyst; but working with the conscient and subconscient of the homo sovieticus was a disputed occupation, criticized by the soviet ideology. Therefore, it required a significant dose of audacity; it’s in this context of insubordination and freedom, that Guela tirelessly repeats that he will be an artist, without ever having painted anything. The father thus commissioned his first work: a black dot on the ceiling of his office, which his patients would fix during the sessions. The gateway to hypnosis, and the artist’s future signature. Perhaps Guela's innate sense of daring and escapism comes from there; these two themes are till today reflected in his works. Guela grows up in a surreal artistic universe, between France and Georgia, inspired in particular by Pirosmani, the brothers Zdanevitch and Salvador Dali, whom he met shortly before his death in 1981 at Portiligat Cadaques, and surrounded by the filmmaker Paradjanov, a friend of the Tsouladze family. He begins his studies at the Fine Arts on Tbilisi in 1977, but the ultimate horizon is Paris. He joins the Art Décoratifs from 1980 to 1983 and then the Beaux-Arts from 1983 to 1985. He becomes the assistant of Christian Boltanski, whom he follows from exhibition to exhibition. In France, the 80s are colorful years, wild like a Fauvist painting. Art comes out of museums and gives birth to the free figuration, an elusive movement, which was slowly taking shape in the lethargy of the Beaux-Arts. Pop culture, in its spontaneity and in its lack of self-control, takes over everything and breaks down all codes, groups and borders. Art is free from all constraints and analysis. Guela is there at the right time, in the right place, with the right people. The Holy Trinity, as he likes to repeat. These crazy years are an ecstatic playground for his artistic instincts. Guela paints on everything: papers, canvases or newspapers. His grand formats are at the scale of his silhouette; he leaves the Beaux-Art and joins the first squats in the nineteenth arrondissement of Paris, notably the Quai de Seine workshop, which he shares with Remy Blanchard and Vincent Scali. These are the years of Ben, of the Di Rosa brothers, of Robert Combas and François Boisrond. Art for everyone, and party for all. Guela follows his intuitions to Ibiza and Barcelona from 1987 to 1993, where he works at the Casa Caritad, which will later become the city's Museum of Modern Art. This colorful and collective delight contrasts with the dark anxieties of our time. Contrary to the widespread dystopia, it was then the utopia that reigned! New York is its epicenter, shaped by Basquiat and Keith Haring. Guela lives there from 1993 to 1998, including several years at the legendary Chelsea Hotel, of which he covers the walls and furniture with Georgian calligraphy. This is where his simplistic, black, and loving figures were born, later becoming his trademark and one of the symbols of Batumi. It was precisely at the end of the 90s that his desire to build bridges between his native country and France became deeper. The Soviet Union died in a burst of freedom, and the Georgians slowly come out of a fratricidal war, fueled by Russia. Georgia needs love, so Guela replaces the flag’s crosses with hearts, following the 2003 Rose Revolution. Since then, convinced that art is the answer to the stress that is still plaguing Georgia, Guela multiplies projects for exhibitions, partnerships, festivals and art centers. He brings several French artists to the Garikula Residency, including Jean Dupuy and Ben, becoming co-author of the first monumental Fluxsus sculptures in the world. In Batumi, he creates in 2013 the Batumi Grafikart Festival, the first Street Art festival in Georgia. More recently, in 2018, he organizes the centenary of 41 °, the first group of avant-garde Georgian artists in tribute to Iliazd. Art knows no limits, and neither does love and freedom. They are the last rampart against obscurantism and violence, whether political and internal, or external, on the constantly contested borders of Georgia. It is this message, so simple, and yet inaudible to some, that the artist repeats in his works, echoing the colorful utopia of the 80s in Paris and New York. Guela cultivates a sense of unity, of celebration and of light that spreads over his colossal paintings and sculptures. With this mysterious black dot guiding him, the artist seeks the magic of spontaneity, a sweet mixture of luck and intuition that touches the boundaries of reality, mysticism and spirituality.

Guela Tsuladze

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