Big Fish, Small Pond Or What should we expect from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Tbilisi?

For decades, tourists have been asking: where do you go to look at contemporary art in Tbilisi? The answer is sad but concise: nowhere. This has been an issue of even graver importance for local art enthusiasts alike: artists, curators, art historians and critics from all walks of life agree, that the absence of contemporary arts museum is a major roadblock for the development of the field, along with the intellectual discourse in general, casting a shadow over the international representation of the country as a whole. Various state-initiated and international programs and projects tend to be short-lived and insufficient, making contemporary art itself seem like a tourist.

In 2013, I came across a letter from art researcher Khatuna Khabuliani in Tbilisi Out, titled “Several Pieces for the Museum of Contemporary Art”. In it, the author presents her tentative list of pieces from the nineties that she finds well-suited for the theoretical museum.

I thought it would be interesting to see the same list compiled by various arts professionals. I approached some of them with this very purpose, asking them to come up with a list of at least 5 such pieces (created 1970-onwards) for the museum (these lists are tentative in nature).

Irena Popiashvili (curator, gallerist) – The dean of the Visual Art, Architecture and Design School (VA[A]Ds) at the Free University

The list (of the artworks from 21st century):

  • The Boxers Who Have Never Went Into The Ring, 2017, Vazhiko Chachkhiani
  • Sheep eats Sheep, 2014, Giorgi Khaniashvili
  • Zeda Tsinsvla, 2017, Thea Gvetadze
  • Almost, 2017, Nino Sekhniashvili
  • Man Encounters Only Himself / I Am not a Girl, 2018, Tamar Chaduneli


Nana Kipiani (art historian) – Senior Researcher at the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the G. Chubinashvili National Research Centre for Georgian Art History and Heritage Preservation

The list:

  • Grozno Dreams, 1995, Gio Sumbadze
  • !con Transport Intervention, 2002, Gio Sumbadze
  • The Chechen Stew, 1997, Mikheil Shengelia
  • Defundamentalisation, 1997, Niko Lomashvili
  • Religious Aerobics, 2013, Boullion
  • Rolex, 1993, Mamuka Japharidze
  • Home Archeology (unedited version) 1994, Levan Choghoshvili
  • Organ, 2012, Guela Patashuri, Ei Arakawa, Sergey Cherepnin


Nino Gujabidze (curator) – The Head of the Library & Archive at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts

The list:

  • So What That They Walked All Over You, 2017, Sopo Cherkezishvili
  • The Fee for the Victory (Jacob’s Fight), 2015, Roko Iremashvili
  • Mad Tea party, 2016, Lia Bagrationi
  • Gia Bughadze does not Live Here, 2015, Gia Bughadze
  • Old TVs, 1999, Murtaz Shvelidze
  • With the Eyes of Colour Blind, 1999, Kote Sulaberidze


Ketevan Shavgulidze (art historian) – Professor at Grigol Robakidze State University

The list:

  • Rolex, 1993, Mamuka Japharidze
  • Sakartvelo, 1991, Koka Ramishvili (paper, plexiglas, 60x80x5cm, Courtensy Thomas Degen Munchen, Photo © Thomas Degen)
  • Erotic Numbers, 1991, Keti Kapanadze
  • It’s Me, 1994, Temo Javakhishvili
  • Way, 1993, Temo Javakhishvili
  • Heavy, 1994, Temo Javakhishvili
  • Bride, 1997, Gia Edzgveradze
  • Stand Against, 1991, Oleg Timchenko and Niko Tsetskhladze
  • Series: Explanations, 2002, Guram Tsibakhashvili
  • Destroyed Georgian Aristocracy, 1975, Levan Chogoshvili
  • Water Pounding, 2014, Kote Jincharadze
  • Hands, 2010, Kote Jincharadze
  • Predecessors 1986, Kote Jincharadze
  • Mirror Reflections of Vanishing Cities, 2008, Lia Bagrationi
  • Pink Wave Hunter, 2011, Andro Vekua
  • Appartment #3, 2009, Boullion
  • Double Selfie, 2016, Anna K.E. ft. Florian Meisenberg
  • Wall, Coal calico, Parquet, 2016, Nika Kutateladze
  • Once Upon a Time, 2015, Mariam Natroshvili and Detu Jincharadze
  • Supra of Her Own, 2014, Tamar Chabashvili
  • More than a Word, 2017, Ana Dziapshipa
  • Red Ground, 2015, Nato Bagrationi
  • Hyperposition, 2013, Manuchar Okrostsvaridze and Konstantine Mindadze
  • Kamikadze Loggia, 2013, Gio Sumbadze
  • Censored and Interior Design, 2014, Lado Lomitashvili
  • If it takes forever, I will wait for you, 2012, Thea Gvetadze
  • Untitled, 2014, Beso Uznadze


Khatuna Khabuliani (art historian) – Associate Professor at the Ilia State University

The list (published in Tbilisi Out, edition 2013):

  • Heavy, 1994, Temo Javakhishvili
  • Escape, (?), Iliko Zautashvili
  • Ya Zdes Shagal, 1994, Mamuka Japharidze
  • Shamil’s Fight Against the Russian Army, 1999, Kote Sulaberidze


Tea Tabatadze (art historian) – Senior Researcher (The Faculty of Art History, Theory and Restauration/Conservation, Tbilisi State Academy of Arts).

The list:

  • Improvising Icon of Godmother, 1975, Otar Chkhartishvili
  • Made in USSR, 1978, Otar Chkhartishvili
  • Composition, 1966, Alexander Bandzeladze
  • Hit Eat Gods (kinetic installation), 2003, Levan Chogoshvili
  • King Teimuraz, 1980 [?], Levan Chogoshvili
  • Series: The Georgian Chronicles, 1980s, Gia Bughadze
  • Crucifixion, 1991, Irakli Parjiani
  • Abstraction, 1991, Irakli Parjiani
  • The Sixth Day of Genesis, 1999, Merab Abramishvili
  • The Wheel of Fortune, [?], Mikheil Shnegelia
  • Für Helena, 1988, Karlo Kacharava
  • America, 1980s, Mamuka Tsetskhladze
  • Arche-Tecture, 2000, Gio Sumbadze
  • Eve and Adam, 2013, Guranda Klibadze
  • Don Quijote, 2011, Guranda Klibadze



The lists remain tentative and abstract, and the museum of contemporary arts remains unborn. The Western experience shows that these kinds of projects are possible via both state and private aid. However, citing the background or the ambitions of the (now) Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia, it would probably be better if we gave the private sector a go.

In the meantime, we can call the Museum of Contemporary Art Tbilisi.




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