PROJECT ARTBEAT’S MOST PROMISING ARTIST TO DATE
As part of our ongoing commitment to bring you valuable insights and inspiration from the world of interior design and contemporary art, we’re kicking off a new series of articles dedicated to special artist profile. We begin this series with #ArtsyDigest: Beso Uznadze. Project ArtBeat was one of the highlights from this year’s START Fair at Saatchi Gallery. As part of the event’s ongoing commitment to create the optimal environment in order to connect art lovers, dealers and collectors with emerging artists and galleries from all over the world, START’s selection process nominated the Georgian gallery as one of its exhibitors for its 2016 edition. Over the last couple of years, the quiet need for something new and different has been felt throughout the layers of the art world. Curators and private collectors started looking in other parts of the world for that desired infusion of creative freshness and artistic innovation. Mid-September, they found it here.
‘One of my favourite galleries is Project ArtBeat from Tbilisi in Georgia. I came across them two years ago at a fair in Istanbul on the tip-off from a journalist who had seen their brilliant booth in the corner of the somewhat dingy convention centre,’ Niru Ratram, Director of START Fair said to FAD’s Mark Westall. It doesn’t come as a surprise though – all you have to do is look at their artist portfolio and you immediately understand.
Artist Bezo Uznadze is one of Project ArtBeat’s most promising artists at this point in time. He works mostly on photo portraits, reportage and through thematic photo series, drawing inspiration from the ordinary emotions and incidents that make up daily life – melancholy, happiness, love, separation, sex, fear and death. His work is predominantly focused on portraits of people whom he has encountered in his immediate surroundings. He uses their physical presence and body language to narrate their stories and put images to their dreams and fears.
His acclaimed photo series include 2B, In the Mood for Love (which secretly takes us to Wor Kan Wai’s iconic film with absolutely no regret), Don’t Wake Me, Tbilisi Portraits, Georgians in the UK and Broadway Market. Uznadze first emerged on the British art scene through the 2003 Metro Imaging Competition in London, which was shortly followed by the Ian Parry Scholarship. In 2008, the artist and photographer won his first British Journal of Photography International Award, signalling his ascension towards artistic excellence.
In his latest work, Uznadze accomplishes something that many have tried before, but failed to capture – a moment in time and space where natural beauty stands still, where the clock stops and gives us a glimpse of a single moment of sheer beauty in its purest and quietest form. He uses flower images and aesthetics from the natural world, focusing on attractive details that otherwise would be lost in a plethora of photographs. His combination of techniques works across the boundaries of photography, sculpture and painting, and it is able to convey his exuberant and creative imagination.
Each image is made up of details extracted from the original photograph, and brought together into a whole new environment. Often, he combines several images into one – some parts are secluded, shadowy hints of a form, and others are exposed in a translucent manner, framed within another image. His rich colour palette during this process dictates the energy and mood of each visual element that he adds to the overall work.
It’s Uznadze’s way of drawing the viewer into a compelling, sometimes exotic and sometimes dark world. His imagery is a balanced form of complexity and nuance, while achieving an overall sense of coherence and wholeness. His unique ability to play on the aesthetic sensibilities of his floral subjects set the photographer apart as a master in his own field – there is no one else who can tell a story as rich and as compelling through such techniques.
Most of the art works from this nature-themed series are untitled, leaving the viewer to focus on the visual narrative, and build his own version of the story beneath the layers of print, ink and/or oil. Uznadze sets the stage in vibrant tones and poetic contrasts, but quietly assigns the viewer to imagine the tale that revolves around the delicate stems and almost iridescent petals.
Perhaps an underlining characteristic of this series is its ability to start from a photograph, something concrete and rooted in fact and physical existence, to then break free and repaint itself in different hues, as if becoming something else entirely. It is, by far, our favourite thing about Uznadze’s work – leaving the conventional and retelling the story through a different medium. Many have tried, few have succeeded and only one has left such a mark on the contemporary art world, and that is Uznadze himself.
The Georgian artist has seen his art works previously exhibited at PULSE Art Fair, New York, and the Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair, as well as selected exhibitions across the world – including Un Homme, Chapitre III at Galerie Hors-Champs, Paris in 2015, and The International Festival of Photography, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 2009, to name but a few.
In an art world that is now constantly seeking to break new boundaries and explore new worlds, new techniques and express different ideas, Beso Uznadze’s explorations of subjectivity at close are truly refreshing, to say the least. His objective’s focus on the most hidden details and his technique of layering the images with different mediums make it difficult to define his photography from painting or textile – and this is why he promises to never bore, to never just paint, to never just photograph, but to tell an intimate story through a combination of methods, and to stir one’s feelings altogether.
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