Tbilisi academy of arts


The Apollon Kutateladze Tbilisi State Academy of Arts is located in one of the  city’s most significant historic buildings on Griboyedovi Street (formerly Komandant Street)–an eclectic complex combining elements of Baroque, Classical, and Persian revival. It was built on the site of a mid-19th century church designed by Grigol Ivanov. In the early 20th century, a shareholder in the block of buildings named Nino Qobulashvili commissioned architect Simon Kldiashvili to design a reconstruction. The building was restored in the early 1970s by art academy staff and students under the direction of George  Khalatov.

Perhaps the artacad-2ndmost valuable aspect of the building, however, is its interior–art historian Vakhtang Beridze attributes the lavish interior designs to Iranian master artists and craftsmen working in Tbilisi. The chambers are abundantly adorned with an entire repertoire of Persian motifs and architectural elements: medallions, calligraphy , stucco ornaments, muqarnas, musharabi stained glass, niches, and murals based on the traditions of Persian miniatures.
In 1869-1886, the local vice-regent recorded the building’s use as a clubhouse for the “Тифлииский  кружок” (“Tiflis Coterie”), and featured a hotel, library, theatre, and halls for dance and billiards. In theartacad-2nd-interior-today early 20th century, an art academy was established–the first public art school in the Caucasus.
Up until the height of the repressions in 1937, the building housed the art  studio of academy professor  Henry Hrinevski, the  balle t studio of  his spouse Maria Perin, the studio of professor Gigo Gabashvili, and the living apartments of Qobulashvili family. Later, the entire building was transferred  to the  ownership of the  art academy, which still functions today as Georgia’s premier institution for higher education in the arts.
To learn more about the history of the art academy and its historic structures, visit the TSA Academy Aid site, established to garner support for a much-needed restoration that began in 2012.
from georgiaphotophiles.wordpress.com


You sit down for a meal witcb_tbilisi_gobi_an_finalh family or friends, and no one can decide what to order. Well, some can, some can’t, and it goes on for ages. The waiter stiffens when you ask one more time for her to come back.

But go to the basement restaurant of Shavi Lomi in Old Tbilisi, and you have the answer for dithering relatives and pals: the gobi, or “Friends’ Bowl,” filled with a colorful selection of classic Georgian dishes.

The word shares the same root as the Georgian word for “friend” – megobari – and so, of course, a gobi bowl is for sharing. It’s a big wooden bowl, filled with a mix of different dishes and as many spoons as you need.

Gobi at Shavi Lomi, illustration by Andrew NorthThe gobi originated in Georgia’s wine country, in the big plains and valleys of Kakheti. “I’ve no idea how old the Gobi is, certainly hundreds of years,” says waiter Tazo Zautashvili. “But the bowl was traditionally made from bread, with the dishes placed on top.”

There’s no one formula for today’s gobi. But the typical Shavi Lomi version comes with red peppers with walnut sauce, jonjoli pickles, eggplant with walnut and pomegranate, beets, the cheeses nadughi and sulguni and mchadi corn bread. The bowl is supplemented with cuts of flat Georgian shoti bread to mop up the juices. Shavi Lomi also does a winter gobi, which comes with all of the above plus seasonal ham from the western region of Racha.

You can easily fill up on a gobi alone, but then it also gives you time to decide what to order next. “We do a smaller bowl for two,” says Zautashvili, “or the bigger bowls can serve up to 10 people.”

Any time we are at Shavi Lomi, a gobi is a must – and then we can make decisions. It looks like a work of art when it arrives; all eyes are drawn to the middle of the table. Wooden bowl or bread, the gobi is the perfect meal to bring people together.

by Andrew North


Alexander Roinashvili Georgian photographer (1849 – 1898)


Alexander Roinashvili was born in 1846 into a family of farmers in Dusheti, a highland region about fifty miles from Tiflis, not far from the Georgian Military Road. He studied photography and painting with Theodor Chlamov in Tiflis in the 1860s, and opened his own studio in 1875–thus becoming the first professional photographer in Georgia.

He is credited with popularizing photography as an art among the Georgian intelligentsia, who decorated their houses with his photos of celebrities: literary giants like the poet, lawyer, journalist and politician Ilia Chavachavadze, one of the fathers of the modern Georgia; the poet of the return to nature, Alexander Kazbegi, who lived as a shepherd in the mountains (and wrote a character named Koba on whom young Stalin modeled himself); or the epic poet and ethnographer Vazha-Pshavroinashvili-kazbegi-familyela, an explorer of the mythological pass of his native mountainous region Pshavi.

Roinashvili also photographed notable artists, actors, and expats, like diplomat Oliver Wardrop, future commissioner of the British Legation from 1919 to 1921 (the short-lived Menshevik Republic of Georgia), and at this time, in the 1890s, translator of the 17th-century collection of fables, “The Book of Wisdom and Lies” by Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, while his sister Marjory translated the masterpiece of medieval Georgian poetry, Shota Rustaveli’s “The Knight in Panther Skin.”

The work of Roinashvili reflects the diversity of the peoples of the Caucasus. Portraits of Greeks, Armenians, Tatars, Lazs, Lezghins join the G
eorgian mountaineers or Tiflis urbanites (Roiashvili’s main clientele). In reality, few of these pictures were taken outside, as Roinashvili’s famous contemporaryDmitry Ermakov preferred–most photos were elaborately staged with props and involved long-exposure shots.

Roinashvili was one of the founders of the Society of Amateur Photographers in Tiflis, predecessor to the Museum of the Antiquities of the Caucasus. During his years of travel in the Caucasus, as far as Daghestan, he collected historic artifacts including weapons, vases, silverware, furniture, and textiles, which he presented at exhibitions traveling throughout the Russian Empire. He is also remembered as a philanthropist, who was intensively involved in Georgia’s cultural renaissance until his death: he organized theatrical performances in his studio, published articles on numerous subjec
ts, and donated books to schools and libraries in the countryside.

After his death, his students continued to operate his studio before establishing their own in Tiflis or Telavi. Later, Dimitry Ermakov bought all of what remained in 1905. After Ermakov’s death in 1916, Ermakov and Roinashvili’s extensive collection of negatives were acquired together by the Historical and Ethnographic Society of Tiflis. The National Museum of Georgia recently re-published some of these preserved works.


World’s most dangerous road’ to Tusheti being upgraded, modernised

The road leading to dorogGeorgia’s iconic Tusheti mountain area is currently among the world’s most dangerous roads, but soon this will change.

The road is set to be rehabilitated and modernised to make it easier and safer to travel to the mountainous area.

Today Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili travelled to Tusheti to attend the public celebration Tushetoba, where he announced the road would be rehabilitated to meet modern, European standards and it will better link the rural area with Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

This road will be constructed using modern methods and this European standard road will join Georgia’s capital and Tusheti, ensuring tourists can cover the distance more quickly and as safely as possibly,” said Kvirikashvili.


Ministry of Highway


Opened in 1975 as the Ministry of Highway Construction, this icon of Soviet architecture stood abandoned after the collapse of the USSR until it was acquired by the Bank of Georgia in 2007. After a complete interior and exterior renovation in 2010-2011, the 18-story building currently serves as the bank’s headquarters.

Architect Giorgi Chakhava was Minister of highway construction in the 1970s, so he was both the client and the lead architect of the project. His idea for the design is rumored to have been inspired by an unrealized building by Czech architect Karel Prager.


The structure consists of a monumental grid of interlocking concrete forms. Five horizontal units contain office space and are supported by three cores, which house vertical circulation elements like stairs and elevators. Three units are oriented at an east-west axis, at a right angle to the slope; two are north-south oriented, along the slope. The design is based on a patented concept named the “Space City method” (Georgian patent certificate # 1538). The primary idea is to provide more space for nature by reducing the building’s footprint. Chakhava likened his utopian Space City to a forest, with the vertical cores serving as trunks and the horizontal elements the canopy. The concept that the landscape or nature “flows” through under the building was used by other architects, too. Le Corbusier worked theoretically on the “house on pilotis” and realized this idea for example from 1947 on the Unité d’Habitation. Frank Lloyd Wright used a similar idea at Fallingwater in 1935. Glenn Murcutt used the proverb Touch This Earth Lightly literally in some of his designs. A current example is the Musée du quai Branly by Jean Nouvel i
n Paris, where a garden lays beneath a building.

The unusual design reflects a rediscovery of avant-garde architectural ideas, particularly Russian constructivism of the 1920s (El Lissitzky’s “horizontal skyscrapers”), while also incorporating elements of Brutalism – evident in the use of modular units, exposed concrete (now controversially painted over), and visually apparent segregation of functions. Montreal’s Habitat 67 housing complex exhibits a similar design pedigree. Space City can perhaps be categorized as “post-constructivist,” with the Ministry of Highways one of its most successful examples.

Udo Kultermann, a German author, also sees a formal connection to the user of the building: the external structure represents its internal use by referring to streets and bridges, the business of the Ministry of Highways. Nikolai Ouroussoff, the New York Times architecture critic, described the building as: “Rising on an incline between two highways, [its] heavy cantilevered forms reflect the Soviet-era penchant for heroic scale. Yet they also relate sensitively to their context, celebrating the natural landscape that flows directly underneath the building. The composition of interlocking forms, conceived as a series of bridges, brings to mind the work of the Japanese Metabolists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, proof that Soviet architects weren’t working in an intellectual vacuum.”

In 2007 the building was conferred National Monument status under Georgia’s National Monuments Act.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are scanned from “Ministry of Highways: A Guide to Performative Architecture of Tbilisi” (Sternberg Press 2013), edited by Joanna Warsza.