About the Artist

Awards & Honors














Kandelaki's "Georgian" paintings are nostalgic, but they are also optimistic; they are suffused with light and are full of symbols of hope and strength. The Geor­gian "Christmas tree", the chichilaki, is made of wood shavings. It sits in a window, set against a sunlit snowscape over a traditional Georgian balcony. It is surrounded by seeds, beans and preserved fruits. It is an ensemble of hope, perhaps a way for the artist to reassure himself of a personal and national rebirth.

The Caged Peacock is a mixed message, a meta­phor for sadness and stubborn pride, a statement of personal frustration, but a collective one as well. Kandelaki's countrymen, the writers, say "This beau­tiful peacock is Georgia, confined in a cage. But even there behind the bars, the divine rays of real and sub­conscious hope, do penetrate." 

Thora Jacobson
Director of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial in
Philadelphia, January 1992


Vladimir Kandelaki's art has been shaped es­pecially by his proud Georgian heritage and the many tragic and dramatic upheavals which affected him and his family and their native Georgia during the revolu­tion, civil war and three quarters of a century of So­viet oppression. These circumstances reinforced an independent and rebellious streak in Kandelaki's char­acter which sustained and motivated him in Soviet Georgia and, more recently, here in the United States. 

Norton Dodge
Profesor Emeritus
St. Mary's College of Maryland


Kandelaki was well aware that he had layered com­mercial, domestic, and spiritual concerns in an ascend­ing pattern in works of this sort. Since the imagery, including the activities as well as the clothing of the subjects, was so typically Georgian in appearance, the artist announced, early in his career, that neither his Georgian nationalism nor his religious beliefs were to be compromised, or that, at least, these motifs would return with great regularity to his subsequent paint­ings. For in these works he recorded the very fibers which held Georgian society together—commerce, re­ligion, tradition.

Kandelaki's recent works, such as those from the Tree of Life and Nature series begun in 1995, and in works such as Predatory Life, play out on a more phantasmagoric level the destructive qualities of life the artist experienced, that amidst all of the evident possibilities for growth and development, there is always the great possibility for destruction. At the same time, using nature as his metaphor, there is also the promise of great joy. In these works, Kandelaki is addressing the great and lasting themes of art—life, power, youth, aging, the seasons, happiness, sadness. These works are among the most emotional the artist has painted, reflective of the greater sense of psycho­logical openness provided by the American environ­ment.

These works also transcend the particularities of time and place and speak more generally to the human condition — of opportunities missed and solution ignored. In them, Kandelaki exercises his powers of reflection, his views of life as befits his new circumstances. Probably, as he discovers more American local color, his images will mellow, but not lose their edge. 

Matthew Baigell
Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey


Among Kandelaki's newer works, one is particu­larly poignant. In Empty Nest (illus. 200) a solitary frail tree containing an empty nest appears silhouetted against a vast gray plain. Currency, cigarette butts, burnt-out matches, and an empty vodka bottle litter the ground. Ironically, the brightly colored refuse has more appearance of vitality than the weary figures walking away in the distance. Each of these figures is isolated; some still drag their red banners. All in all— it would seem—the image presented to us in Empty Nest offers little room for hope. The tree is leafless-the nest is deserted. Yet trees do leaf out again after a long winter, and perhaps this one still contains life. A desolate tree and an empty nest might seem an un­likely symbol of regeneration; yet in the context of recent history can we expect more? The nest is empty,

the ground is barren and littered with the garbag recent history, but an empty nest does have the po tial to contain new life. Whether it can be filled aj remains to be seen. 

Janet Kennedy
Indiana University
Henry Redford Hope School of Fine Arts


Vladimir Kandelaki’s  conceptualism is a complex phenomenon. He never repeats in his works the stereotypes of pseudo avant-gardism. His ideas are always multi-faceted - and easy to understand and grasp, while the deep layers of his art contain the soul of the artist. 

George Totibadze
People's Artist of Georgia : Corresponding Member
Georgian Academy of Sciences,
Russian Academy of Arts


The core and the foundation of the style, Kandelaki meticulously developed, implied and embraced the unity of modern and traditional, with his memories of the ancestors, and infuse a tendency and ability to transform reality - with rich fantasy. A mere glimpse at his works immedi­ately shows a concoction of features characteristic to ancient Georgian art - with the proofs of the influences of the XX century Western painting.

Another important point concerning Kandelaki's art, is its cyclic nature and qualities. He likes to return to some motives, developing the variations and enriching them with new details and elements. His favorite themes embrace reminiscences of his childhood, scenes of religious or public festivities, colorful parades and festivals. While the initial concep­tual drawings can be - and are interpreted as conventional genre cre­ations - in his larger panoramic compositions, the painter modifies and transforms real objects, increases their size and thus, injects a symbolic meaning and charge into the concrete things and objects.

Vladimir Kandelaki is one of the foremost Georgian artists, who pro­duced nonconformist works at the hard and unfavorable period of Stagnation. His works in oil ran parallel to his popart creations and pres­ent a period of relevant and common characters and also, the mood and a general atmosphere. 

Nino Zalishvili
Artist, art critic Chair, Georgian Association of Artists