Photo taken by Han Mengyun
I woke up to the impression of a painting called ‘Mouchette’ by the Georgian artist Karlo Kacharava, whose works were first brought to an international audience in London by Sanya Kantarovsky and Scott Portnoy. Like a film poster done in oil, this painting captivated me with its vibrant currents of brushstrokes that brew a sense of emotional turbulence forever at present, which might belong to the character Mouchette herself, and whose sorrowful complexion with a tinge of terror reminds me of Cosette in Les Misérables. The incantation of the written name hovering above the muddy air reverberates around my imagination of the artist’s satiation of this Bresson film.
The show is well laid out with the artist’s works on canvas and paper, in notebooks, personal archives and photographs, as concentrated as the short-lived vitality of the artist. Karlo’s works are eclectic in not only style and technique but also in the extensive choice of references to western culture at large. The coexistence of multiple languages in one picture frame and the compartmentalized images remaking art histories and literatures, comic book and film scenes, make up Karlo’s life during the Glasnosts-era in the 1980s, when cultural boundaries were loosened and the influx of information led to the flowering of art and letters. It made me think of our current days of social media, how artists today are exposed to information in vastly different and unpredictable ways compared to our predecessors, whose access to info and material can be easily traced to understand the ingredients of making. Karlo’s work is a melting pot of information, a glorification of freedom, a burning desire to embrace the world as a whole, and to be embraced BY the world. That’s why he dreamed of showing his work in London, a city that perhaps meant the world to him at the time.
Another thought that occurred to me was the unique role of the artist as curator, whose perspectives are of an inner experience and communion with another artist, a conversation via the application of the paint and the crooked frame, an acknowledgement of the random, the unfathomable alchemy of the mind and hand. This show provides that sense of communion between Sanya and Karlo.