Posted: 2 years ago
Author: Nina Gomarteli

Goshaart: Street Art That Protects City from Vandalism

If you've been to Georgia's capital over the past few years, you've seen Goshaart's works and it's always interesting to find our who's behind those walls that make city more vibrant. Join us and take a walk in the streets of Tbilisi as we chat with Gosha about his work and his passion for turning dusty abandoned objects into lively.  

What helped spark that initial interest in street art and when did you first paint in a public space?

Having moved to Georgia several years ago and settled in Tbilisi, I was unpleasantly surprised by the street view of the city. Despite its historical attractiveness and positioning as an ancient caucasian capital, it looked depressing, especially in the old quarters.

Walking along the streets and alleys, as a responsible resident, I had an urgent need to do something about it. I removed the trash, cleaned the walls and billboards from dirt, but they got dirty again and again, and it seemed that there would be no result of my efforts.

Once I noticed that if an object is not just cleaned, but provided with a drawing, even ordinary graffiti, then the locals wouldn't wish to spoil it. I've observed that many drawings stay intact for several years! This gave me the idea that street art can carry not only a visual function, but also protect the city from vandalism.

Having tried to do several works, I was convinced of this idea. If you just clean the building fence, it will get dirty again and covered with paper. If you draw a large tree and cats on it, as I did back in 2018 on Rustaveli Avenue opposite the Opera Theatre, this tree will remain intact until now.

Thus, my works have primarily a saving function for the old city. And, of course, they add bright colors to it, which among the gray shabby walls are so attractive for both the people living there and the tourists. Threefold benefits for everyone at once.

Do you have any favorite surface, time of the day or location for making graffiti?

Since I have a responsible approach to my work, I will never paint anywhere, especially in historical areas. The artist's task is to search for opportunities for self-expression in such a way as not to damage the visual context of the place, to accurately fit his work into what was built for decades.

Therefore, I do not paint on the walls of buildings, on stone fences or on sidewalks. Temporary building fences, which in Tbilisi can stand for months and years, are quite enough for me. I also choose to work on bad-looking blind doors, gates in yards, ridiculous iron boxes, that are rusty and dirty. For the first few days, I only deal with cleaning and priming them. The art itself takes very little time at the very end of the work. But if it's not done, this object will again be vandalized quickly.

As for the time, I prefer a daylight, not too hot or cold. Only young illegal hooligans draw at night. 

Have you ever gotten into a risky situation when doing street art?

Rarely, but yes. Basically, if there were not too adequate citizens looking for a reason to cling to someone. But the majority of the reaction of observers is kind and benevolent. They bring water, a stool, khachapuri, thank me for my work. This gives me a great motivation to continue doing street art. I thank them for being positive. 

How has your work evolved through the years?

Probably like any novice artist, first, you pick up techniques, visual images, sort out different instruments. You move from black and white graphics to color, learn to mix colors, add shades, shadows, highlights. Everything is quite traditional, like in any craft.

What other form of arts do you practice?

Street art in Tbilisi is limited to the warm season, roughly April to October. From November to March, you have to come up with other indoor activities. I paint custom-made walls in apartments, cafes, offices, probably like all street artists. Although, of course, working as directed by the client is not as interesting as drawing only what you want yourself. Therefore, I choose a customer very carefully so that there is no misunderstanding later. 

I also write books, print them, bind them in natural leather and sell them online. Since the book as a text in our digital era has practically ceased to be a commodity, the text is found everywhere and available for free, the book acquires value precisely as a material object - if it is made with high quality by hand, in a cover made of real leather, with decorations, with hand stitching. And it is valued much more than ordinary books. This is what I do in the cold, wet Tbilisi winter.

Tell us about modern street art tour.

It was rather logical, if there are people who are interested in street art, then why not show them your works, tell them how they were invented, created, how places and tools were chosen, what was the creative thinking process like. I would also gladly take part in such an excursion with the author of the works somewhere in Barcelona, Berlin, Rome. And in Tbilisi I am happy to act as a guide myself.

The problem with usual walking tours in Tbilisi is that there is very little unique content. Hundreds and thousands of guides of varying degrees of professionalism show the same attractions, tell the same stories. And since there is not enough unique content, you can create it yourself, and then tell the enthusiastic guests of the city about it. 

What do you see as the street artist’s role in society, what’s your personal mission in this regard?

Too global question for a couple of paragraphs, and I don't even think about such matters. If there is an opportunity to make the city a little cleaner, brighter, more elegant, add unusual features to it, if it pleases its residents, then this can be counted as a mission.

Well, I'd like to meet the mayor Kaladze personally. So far this has not been possible, there are too many deputies and departments in his office. And he is a man who clearly cares about Tbilisi, who improves the lives of citizens, and I think we have something to discuss on this topic. Say hello to him from me!:)

I hope you'll get to meet him soon. Thank you for the interview!

Follow on Instagram: Goshaart