|Musa gallery opens doors into Esma Oniani’s world|
|April 11, 2008|
April 11, 2008
“She has her individual world, and she is not like any other Georgian artist,” art critic Gia Jamberize said of her when opening “The world of Esma Oniani,” an exhibition dedicated to her.
Merab Berdzenishvili International Culture Centre “Musa” hosted the five-day exhibition of Esma Oniani’s paintings as well as an evening of her poetry on April 7.
Born in 1938, Esma was never an ordinary child. In the words of her sister Irina Oniani, “She was unbelievably clever, had a computer instead of a brain. Esma was writing and painting all her life long, probably since the very birth. Besides, she was interested in everything, every subject at school: math and physics, chemistry, geography or history and could achieve success in every field.”
She studied at the Academy of Arts, at the faculty of painting. There, her diploma work – a group portrait called “Senior class mates” – got the highest mark and was sent to the All-Union Exhibition of the USSR, in Moscow. Unfortunately, the painting was lost somewhere in Russia and did not return to Georgia.
At first, Esma worked for the Georgian television as an artist producer, and finally at the Academy of Art as a teacher at the chair of the painting department.
Oniani’s life was not easy during the Soviet time: she found it difficult to have her poems published by magazines and publication houses, as they were not – and could not be – about the Soviet government or society. And although her works together with other artists were exhibited many times, even abroad, not a single time did Esma have a personal exhibition while alive.
However, since her sudden death in 1999, with the help of her sister Irina Oniani and the people appreciating the precious pieces of art by Esma Oniani, her exhibitions are held every year.
Many walk away impressed.
Irina Oniani remembers:
“We had the first exhibition in the Blue gallery, during which Esma was awarded the Georgian State Prize. I was standing inside the hall when I saw two people entering with astonished faces. They seemed to be speaking French, and I decided to talk to the foreign guests. What happened is that, a French art-critic and his wife were so impressed and delighted with the works of Esma that they didn’t leave the gallery for two hours at least, watching the paintings over and over; saying that the pictures are so unbelievably brilliant that they should be hanging in the center of the city forever, so that everybody could see the genius of Georgian soul.”
The couple later covered half of the expenses associated with the publishing of a catalogue of Esma’s works. Irina Oniani raised the remaining sum, and the catalogue was finally printed in Turkey. The design of the album belongs to Gogi Tsereteli, who also adores Esma’s creations and is working on the design of every invitation card and poster for every exhibition of her art.
Now the catalogue is sent to the libraries and museums of many different countries. Sending the catalogues was performed with the help of embassy of Poland, and in many museums of the country exhibitions of the reproductions from the catalogue were held. Interestingly enough, the name of the daughter of the Polish ambassador here is Matilda Esma Murtanovska. And yes, her name has to do with Esma Oniani. First accidentally coming across Esma’s catalogue, and then attending her exhibition in Kopala gallery made the family of the ambassador Jaseck Multanovski fall in love with the artist.
Nearly the same was the story of the famous Georgian actor Kakhi Kavsadze:
“I did not know Esma Oniani in her life, but several days ago I was just watching TV and saw her reading her writings. In a couple of minutes I realized I could not take my eyes off the screen, as in front of me was a specially gifted woman, somebody not common, and today when I watch her works, I believe that this job can only be done by a really beautiful, uncommon soul, and if anybody ever asks you what it means to be gifted, tell him to see Esma’s pictures, read her poems,” Kavsadze said as he was walking around the exhibition hall.
“Esma‘s art is complicated, difficult, but full and refined. She knows exactly how she paints. She loves red, and red is the most risky color, as one extra spot can damage the whole picture. Esma uses red bravely but softly, so it fits in perfectly,” said Dima Eristavi, a painter.
The exhibition was accompanied by an evening of Oniani’s poetry, where young actors and actresses read the poems of the woman who, in Irina Oniani’s words, “was born together with a word,” who wrote to “remind people of something forgotten, basic, vary familiar and ordinary; not to allow their souls to forget the primordial, the happy and the good”(Esma Oniani) or “who would definitely be world famous if she wrote in English or Spanish,” as Rezi Tvaradze said.
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