Friday, January 28, 2011



In 19th century Tibet tiger pelts and tantric carpets representing tiger images were thought to stand for secular power.  These carpets often had fully splayed tiger bodies realistically woven as if it were a pelt or standing in for a tiger body.  In other Tibetan carpets of the time the tranvsverse black stripes indicative of "tiger" are used alone in the representing of "tiger" or no tiger - an abstraction.

The leap from 19th c. tantric Tibetan tiger carpets to the artwork of Georgian artist Tamuna Sirbiladze may not be a long one or an obvious one.  In itself representation necessitates story telling where abstraction can be about sovereign color and geometrical forces, about gesture, space.  But even in so-called abstraction a degree of realism can prevail.  The various modes of working by Sirbiladze is the difference between an actual tiger pelt, a carpet made to look like a tiger pelt or the abstract stripes of the tiger.  In each case Sirbiladze negotiates her relationship with this beast named art.  Call it what you may: abstract or representaional but Tamuna has taken the tiger by its tail.

The artist has built a repartoire of different artistic practices: painting, sculpture, photography, video and performance.  These various expressions fluxuate between periods of representation and periods of abstraction.  It may not be the theme of the work per se but is something that drives the differences between a video of a ballet dancer reflected in a tea cup and the more recent Elements that she conceived to accompany the paintings.

Sirbiladze describes Elements (wall forms that create architectural interventions in a space alongside her paintings) as "anti-Judd" and prefers to think of  them as painterly geometry.  With this Sirbiladze says she takes an "anti-minimalist" "anti-Judd" and "anti-white geometry" stance.  Elements therefor are not an emptying out or pairing down as much as they are an elaboration in a sculptural form of how the artist thinks about painting and serve as an extended discourse with her two dimensional works. 

Judd considered himself a painter - not a sculptor - and was interested in "real materials in real space" while rejecting illusionism.   This may also be said about  the Elements of Sirbiladze.   But where Judd sought a 'purity of form' Sirbiladze seeks a painterly extension of architure and not a philosophy in pursuit of purity.
Sirbiladze makes expressive paintings, whether it is a depiction of her dog Sancho or an amalgomation of colors and gestures.  The paintings are usually large in scale and nothing about the work is timid.  Some of her work can be taken as a direct challange or, more likely, a dare.  The panitings are a proposal that if one is going to make a mistake lets make big mistakes.  I dare you to challange me.  It is this bold individual expression that distinguishes Sirbiladze amongst seas of shyness and triteness.  Tamuna takes the tiger's tail and makes artwork that is the essence of "anti-timid."


No comments:

Post a Comment