A lasting impact: leading Georgian set designer’s artworks to be restored

3 July 2017

This year marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Peter Otskheli, one of the leading modernist artists and set designers in Georgia of the 20th century. Funded jointly by TBC Bank and Georgian Art Palace, 30 of Otskheli’s costume sketches and paintings will be restored, works that according to the Art Palace’s director Giorgi Kalandia are “not paid due attention”.

Though Otskheli’s life was short (he was arrested and executed by the Bolshevik authorities at the age of 30), his mark on Georgian theatre was profound. At the age of 20, Otskheli designed the set for the Lunacharsky play Firestarters at the Tbilisi Workers’ Theatre, after which the prominent director Kote Marjanishvili, who was in awe of his talents, invited the young set designer to work with him in Kutaisi. His career lasted only nine years, in which time he designed 28 performances.

Coinciding with the boom of modernist self-expression, Otskheli’s ideals mimicked the epoch he lived in. This air of innovation and experimentation suited the young visionary, as the prevailing artistic counter-culture in Georgia, and indeed Europe, allowed Otskehli to play with traditional strutures of form, colour and shade.

Less well known are Otskehli’s paintings and sketches, among which the most famous is the Flying Painter, which became one of the leading exhibits at the Google Cultural Institute’s exhibition. The restoration will be complete by the end of September and will be made public for the whole of Georgia to enjoy. As Tamar Kirvalidze, Corporate Communications Director of TBC Bank, maintains, Otskheli’s works are “unique and it is obvious that society needs to get to know them better”.