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."
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Henry Redford Hope School of Fine Arts
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.
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
Artist, art critic Chair, Georgian Association of Artists