Review: Tamuna Sirbiladze Combines Art and Decoration at Half Gallery

The New York Times, by ROBERTA SMITH

AUGUST 20, 2015


‘Take It Easy’

The seductive New York gallery solo debut of Tamuna Sirbiladze fulfills its title’s imperative to “Take It Easy.” It does too little with what seems to be a fair amount of talent, combining art and decoration in a way that manages to be stylish and admirably assured but also blasé and familiar. Ms. Sirbiladze, who is Georgian and lives in Vienna, studied at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts in Georgia; the Academy of Arts, Vienna; and the Slade School of Fine Art in London.

Her show consists primarily of works in two to four shades of oil-stick applied in big, casual scrawls to raw, unstretched canvas. Splitting the difference between painting and drawing, these works are pinned to walls in the gallery’s two small, formerly domestic spaces, one of which is loosely painted with wide, drippy brush strokes of jungle green. Given the presence of the gallery’s fireplace, the result is a little like a Parisian salon around 1913, but one where works by budding Modernists have greatly expanded, baring canvas and stretching the paint to the breaking point.

The tie to Modernist still life in these semiabstract motifs is hard to miss, with titles like “Pipe,” “Spades” and especially “M Vase,” whose scribbles of red, black, blue black and brown suggest a Matisse fishbowl. There’s also a sailboat. A larger work from 2011 titled “Picasso’s Pigeons” indicates that Ms. Sirbiladze’s graphic panache has increased, with beneficial results. Perhaps her next New York show, planned for the James Fuentes Gallery on the Lower East Side in October, will demonstrate additional gains.


Georgian artist makes an impression at first solo show in NY

Observer, August 2015

7 Aug 2015, Tbilisi, Georgia

Vibrant canvases expressively showing fragmented figures and objects decorated the walls of a leading New York art gallery in an exhibition showcasing the work of a Georgian abstract artist.

On August 5 the Half Gallery exhibited several creations by Georgian-born, Vienna-based painter Tamuna Sirbiladze in her debut American solo show, titled ‘Take it Easy.’

Hung on the walls of two floors of the gallery, Sirbiladze’s paintings were described as incredibly beautiful and unique. A fleeting glance and you won’t fully appreciate her works; you must look quite closely with an open mind to conceive the extremely emotional imagery living within the shadows of the colours.

Sirbiladze, the widow of Austrian contemporary artist Franz West, also painted the gallery walls jungle-green, giving the installation an easy way of involvement and perception.

Her work made references to other artists as well while still remaining quite personal.

Sirbiladze is the daughter of an artist and a fan of Rembrandt, Goya, and Impressionism. She knew from a very young age she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a painter. To pursue her dream she studied art at Tbilisi State Academy then continued her professional education at the Vienna State Academy.

The artist said she had visited New York many times in her life and really liked the Half Gallery as it had the feeling of being a domestic place, however her works were so expressive and not at all domestic; proving to be a nice contrast.


Half Gallery Holds Georgian Artist Tamuna Sirbiladze's First U.S. Solo Show, 'Take it Easy'

Frobes, Aug 5, 2015


Last night, Half Gallery hosted the first United States solo show of Georgia-born and Vienna-based visual artist Tamuna Sirbiladze, ‘Take it Easy.’ Featuring several paintings hung around the two floors of the gallery, the work in the show is glaringly beautiful. Sirbiladze is often known as the wife of the late artist Franz West, who passed away in 2012. But as evidenced by this show, her aesthetic is entirely unique to her. Her paintings are highly expressive with splashes of glorious colors forming abstracted figures and patterns.

The imagery contained within the banners in the show oscillate between “the figurative and the gestural,” and Sirbiladze also painted the walls of Half Gallery jungle-green, mirroring the walls of French painter Balthus at the Villa Medici in Rome. The work makes references to other other artists, like Matisse and Micasso, as well as artists from other mediums like David Lynch. But even with the references, the work reads as quite personal. Sirbiladze’s work is the kind that requires the viewer’s patience to truly appreciate and understand. One needs to look quite closely, mind turned on, to take in all the imagery living within the shadows of the colors. But the paintings are incredibly emotional, and prove rewarding to those willing to give into their allure.

Sirbiladze, who was at the show’s opening, has known she would be an artist since she was a child. She studied art Tbilisi State Academy in Georgia and later the Vienna State Academy. She and I linked up at the show to talk about her first US solo exhibit.

Forbes: Have you been to New York before?

Sirbiladze: Many times, but this is the first time for my show.

Sirbiladze: I loved it because it’s such a domestic feeling place. It’s like home. And my works are so expressive and not at all domestic. It proved to be a nice contrast.

Forbes: So how has putting together this show compared to others that you’ve been involved with?

Sirbiladze: Well, Bill [Powers, owner of Half Gallery] really knew my work. For example there was this wool painting. Bill was kind of shocked at first, but then he loved it. So, I see how he is very in tune with art. Not only with thinking and knowing, but also with intuition. He has strong visual knowledge.

Forbes: Talking about the art itself, it’s different than much of the art I’ve seen recently. It’s a little abstract. How did you first get involved with art, and when did you start painting?


Sirbiladze: I was 13 when I started, and my father was a painter. And I knew at age 13 that I would be an artist. I started doing still lifes. The first time I put a brush in my hand I knew that was what I’d do. I was fascinated by art. But I had to learn about it through books. In Georgia, there were no museums. But to see original art in books was my favorite thing.

Forbes: Who were some of the painters that left an early impression on you?

Sirbiladze: I loved Rembrandt, Goya, and the Impressionists.

Forbes: Bill mentioned something to me about pomegranate, and that it’s a symbol used by a film director, and in your work?

Sirbiladze: Yes, Sergei Parajanov was the name of the filmmaker. The pomegranate is a symbol of the country of Georgia, because there are some many pomegranate trees there. Many artists use it as a symbol. I had to sneak it in there.

Forbes: So it’s like your homage to your country?

Sirbiladze: Yes, it’s like a subject itself. I didn’t want to make it as an art statement; I wanted it to exist as itself.

Forbes: Your color palette is quite beautiful, blues and red always on white background. Do you have a special relationship with color?

Sirbiladze: Yes, color is the reason that I started painting. Searching for color and light is my main engagement.