The elusive and unnamed art of a young painter named Irakli Jgenti.
What is painting? According to international descriptions, it is simply an application of paint on a canvas or paper using brushes, pens or pencils in order to convey specific stories. The word “painting” covers all imagery created by man, starting from prehistoric cave drawings and ending with avant-garde pieces displayed in contemporary art galleries. In one word, painting is an art of touch. Some achieve this touch, others haven’t even thought about it. A painter is defined by their ability to convey emotion on a canvas first and their technique of execution second.
Our guest today is a student of the Tbilisi Academy of Arts, Irakli Jgenti, who is enamored with traditional painting. Art is everything to him, and he devotes a larger part of the day to painting.
He loves his everyday work; he gets exhausted but never grows tired of it. Perhaps what one loves, one never gets tired of, and instead protects, respects and never dooms it for the past.
“I drew as a kid. Everyone drew in my family, so I developed a protest and landed on this idea that ‘I must not draw! I must find something else to do with my time!’ This wasn’t simply a childish protest; I didn’t want to be like anyone. Since my father was an artist, it wasn’t necessary for me to pursue the same path and think of painting.”
Why Do I Draw Now?
“I think I realized that no one else will draw what I will draw. My family members have their thing to say, I have mine. Competing is pointless. The only person I want to be better than is me yesterday. 4 years ago in Cyprus I made a little sketch at a bar. I was just sitting and thinking of it. It was a pen and paper doodle, and when I showed it to my family and friends, they liked it. This was promptly followed by more improvised sketches. The process sucked me in and I began enjoying it. It was a fitting time in my life too; I didn’t know what I wanted and what I was destined for. This is how I started painting, and I haven’t stopped ever since. Painting chose me itself!”
Money, People’s Love and Immortality
“On the question of what I think about during painting, I get reminded of this story of a Chinese sculptor who was tasked with creating a patterned stand for a temple. It was a great honor for him so he began working with great enthusiasm. During the process, thoughts of the money he would make for the job started creeping on to him. He realized soon after that he was creating something horrible, so he destroyed it and started again. This time he found himself obsessed with the love he would deserve from the people appreciating the stand, which made him start again once more. During his third attempt, he thought of immortality. But during his fourth attempt, his only thought in his head was to create a good pattern. And it came out great. The stand brought the people’s love, the money and immortality all at the same time.
Ideally, when I draw I should be thinking of drawing. I’ve often thought that art professionals and simple hobbyists alike are wrong when they claim that an author of a piece tried to say this and this using this color or that composition. It is just as likely that the artist was busy with studying nature in front of them, and they were so taken with staging experiments on it that there was no room in their head for things or emotions they wanted to convey and weave into the piece.
If I’m not focused on a painting, I can’t work! I draw 6-7 hours a day, and only when I’m done and I get up do I notice the exhaustion and the back pains. I get super exhausted!”
The Key to Success
“If what a piece conveys dawns on me while I’m working on it, I won’t achieve a satisfying result anymore. Accidents hold a large role. I don’t draw in any specific medium, and I’ve worked a month on a piece at most. Although there are paintings that I would devote even larger amounts of time to if I could. But I stop the moment I get the feeling that I’m drawing someone else’s painting. That indicates the piece is complete.”
I Don’t Draw for Anyone
“I am both the participant and the observer of my pieces. There are paintings that make me feel super perverted while I’m working on them – as I’m obsessed with thoughts of many women at once. If I myself realize what the piece is about, I stop painting it! I’d rather erase and start again, and I have had that happening. Creating scenes or events which can be explained are uninteresting to me.”
What is Going On?
“I like it when they ask me what is going on in a piece. Feedback is part of art. I am very interested in the opinions of others, of what they see and think. People help me understand my own work. Points of view, stories, impressions – these discussions are interesting to me! I’m a spineless guy and I’ve lately come to think of that as being my spine in and of itself; there is nothing tangible, nothing to grant a handhold when I’m spineless, so I’m always out of the playing field, because I’m constantly aware that what I draw is only my opinion, and that’s only how I see it, and in actuality it is unknowable. One could say the opposite too; I’m always in the playing field.
I have trouble naming things in real life. Sometimes I finish a piece and I have the impression that I haven’t drawn this, someone else did.”
A Day in the Life
“There is no one particular type of day for me… I just draw, swim, and then see my friends in the evening if I’m not too exhausted. I’m not attracted to crowded and noisy places; I don’t have the ability to cope with it. I never see more than 2-3 friends at the same time. If I end up at a birthday, I always sneak out early and everyone knows that. It’s my personality.
I usually get up at 9 in the morning, and then spend some time with my dog Ozzie, walking him and enjoying fresh air with him. When I get back home, I start drawing. I’m unable to check in on friends every day and I don’t like doing that either. I don’t think I’m a particularly active person.
Music? I don’t listen to one specific performer or genre… my ears search for sounds of interest everywhere and all the time.”
Healthy Eating Above All
“I love pasta; I could eat it every day. I’m not a good cook myself – I’ve tried, but it didn’t work out.”
“I don’t know what happiness is… I’ve had flashes of inner peace. I don’t know how this would count for happiness for someone else, but for me these flashes truly represent inner calmness, nothing else. They usually happen when I forgive myself for being human.
I barely remember a period in my life when I wasn’t under the spell of a woman. I don’t know what love is, but I know that women are everything for me.”
“I’ve liked works of many artists; Bacon, Kiefer, Doig. I’ve never tried to consciously imitate them, but influences are undeniable. If you ask me who my favorite artist is, I’ll go towards cinema directors first of all: Tarkovsky, Bergman, Bresson…”
I Have Nothing to Say about God
“I have nothing to say about God. My mother is the one who I believe in. I know three gods personally: my mother, my grandmother who brought me up, and my first teacher – the god of art, Roland Paposhvili. My grandfather influenced my thinking a lot too.”