Artistic Couples: Irma Kusiani

Within the scope of GEORGIA TODAY’s collaboration with BI Auction, we are offering to our readers exclusive interviews from Georgian artistic couples. Last week, we presented to you Merab Gagiladze, and this week you will read about his spouse, painter Irma Kusiani, who in conversation with us goes into detail about the advatages and disadvatages of living with a fellow artist, her many inspirations, and more.

Who first introduced you to art? How and when did you start painting?

I don’t remember exactly when I started painting, I just know that for as long as I remember, I remember painting. When I was a kid, I would paint rather than have any other kind of fun.

Who had the biggest impact on your work early on in your career? Can you name your favorite artists?

I remember once in school, a painter came in and painted my classmate. I remember my reaction quite clearly when he started these brush strokes on an empty canvas, while I carefully watched as something blank slowly turned into something beautiful. If someone looked in the room at the very moment, they would see my astonished face! This was the moment my dream turned into thought. I was a fifth grader then. If before this moment all my paintings brought me a childish joy, after this painter visited our school, I grew critical of everything I painted – I didn’t like my pieces anymore. I decided I had to study and for this I had to paint more and more. So I soon started going to painting lessons in what was then the ViceRegent Palace. My favorite painters are Gustav Klimt and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Their impact can still be seen on my works. I would literally give up one year of my life just to be able to talk to Klimt for a few hours. From a young age, his paintings bewitched me and made me fall in love with his golden sheets. I also love the pre-Raphaelites.

How important do you deem professional education in shaping an artist?

I believe that professional education is still important. It doesn’t disrupt anything and it can help a lot. You can also become an artist without a proper education, of course, but that is mostly luck.

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your pursuit of art?

Everything starts as fun and games, then as you study more, you realize that it is not that easy. You need to work really hard: every day, I either paint or think about what I should paint. It’s not as easy to be a professional painter as it might seem on the outside.

Could you tell us the advantages and disadvantages of living with a fellow artist?

My spouse and I are both painters: we have been painting side by side for almost 30 years now. There are some disadvatages, like secretly stealing each other’s brushes and paints, arguing over what music to put on when we’re working, sometimes wishing you were alone when you are painting but you are not... But there are advantages, too, like giving each other advice, making decisions together on professional issues, about exhibitions, useful and sometimes useless arguments.

What would you say about the contemporary Georgian art scene?

Where would I put Georgian art on the world map? I would assess it the same way I would assess Georgian wine, music, dance, singing, and sports.

What is your biggest inspiration today?

I think one can find inspiration in anything: it could be a cloud in the sky, or a leaf on the tree. If you watch closely enough, you will find that everything has its own character: an animal, a person, a star, grass, a tree, even a traffic light. They are all inspiring.

What do you think art’s main mission is?

I think art is more of an illusion: it is there to interpret everything. I believe that art’s mission is to humanize people, make them more kind and sometimes angrier about things. Its mission is to bring emotions to the surface. I couldn’t live without it!

What do you want to tell people through your art?

Simply, the feeling I felt when creating that canvas; something I saw that made me paint it.

The modern art scene is ever-changing. What is the future of painting in this reality?

I don’t think art has either a past or a future: it is only a challenge of its times. Art is the only thing that stays wonderful, no matter what. Everything without it seems like nonsense to me. I can’t imagine a person without art.

What are your future plans?

Coronavirus has turned everything upside down. I now see everything and everyone in mystique. So I don’t really have plans right now, for the near future. But in general, I plan many exhibitions.

What would your advice be for artists just starting up?

I would advise them to not go mellow on themselves and to work really hard. It’s hard-work and determination that makes a person who she wants to be. They should paint everywhere, all the time; even make copies of different great artists: appreciate classic art and then develop their own style. In short, first heart and then mind.

What do you think art auctions in general, and BI Auction in particular, play in promoting art?

I think different art auctions are one way to professionally connect a painter and collector. Unfortunately, we have not really been spoiled with many auctions in Georgia. The BI Auction is the first professional one, for which I am thankful and I wish them success!

About BI Auction ‘for ART’: BI Auction is the first Art Auction Company of Georgia, established in 2016. The company’s aim is to promote Georgian art and artists and enlarge the market. In four years, BI Auction ‘for ART’ has organized eight auctions and presented more than 450 paintings from 125 Georgian painters. In every auction, the collection is selected from among a thousand paintings from the well-known legendary artists of Georgia and also from promising young artists. For more information, please contact

By Nini Dakhundaridze

10 September 2020 16:25