1 Dec

Mzekha Makharadze

Eteri Chkadua, dubbed the „Georgian Amazon” lives in NYC and Kingston, Jamaica. She travels  lot and claims to find new characters for her canvases in different cultures and countries. Magic  realism is perhaps the most correct definition of Eteri Chkadua’s paintings. In her self-portraits we have been seeing a woman of cosmopolitan nature embracing emotion  and an eclectic character in her autobiographical canvases for more than 10 years. Eteri is extremely  bold artist, whose style of thought identifies with freedom. Majority of her paintings were collected by a well- known collector and an art dealer Gian-Enzo Sperone. 

Her work has been displayed at the Georgian Pavilion at  52 La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy as well as Luna Kulturhus Konsthallen in Sodertalie, Sweden;  MuMok in Vienna, Austria;  Aldridge Museum, NY; Istanbul Modern Museum;  Aperto 12, lido, Italy; Sperone Westwater gallery in New York, NY; Maya Polsky Gallery in Chicago, The Open 12 Lido and other galleries . Emotion in Eteri’s work seems to force viewers to “look into“ her paintings, to grasp the psychological conflict. American writer and social critic Stanley Crouch commented on Eteri’s painting „I appreciate that the essence of your art is in form, you don’t obey the emotion and go beyond narcissistic attitudes … Be always bold and interesting – you have a lot to give…“ 


In 2019 , during the 58th International Art Biennale in Venice, THE POOL NYC Gallery presented a group exhibition „NOTTURNO PIU“ curated by Jacinto Di Pietrantonio at Palazzo Cesari Marchesi , where  Eteri’s paintings were displayed.  Renowned  curator Francesco Bonami while attending  the exhibition, filmed a selfie with Eteri Chkadua’s painting  „In Black“ and posted  it on Instagram with the following text: “Behind me is beautiful painting, titled: ‘Thanksgiving in Georgia“.

Eteri’s solo exhibition in Chicago, in 1990, at the Maya Polsky Gallery was the first success of her American adventure. This was her first exhibition and the start of a successful career. „To understand the work of Eteri Chkadua, and this is not an exaggeration, you have to acknowledge her unparalleled talent and admit that neither living nor dead artist can come close to her art of self-expression. I consider the artist’s boundless freedom as the main driving force of her portraits.

Eteri’s paintings are free from any internal tension and a fear, that they are insufficiently commercial, or less attractive. Eteri does not compromise, she relies only on sincerity and direct way of portraying experience. With her witty and cheerful manners and the air of devastating sexual wisdom, Eteri destroys and tears down earthly conflicts, changes their form and feeds them a fried chicken,” writes Cintra Wilson, an American writer and social critic.

There are many Georgian motifs in Eteri Chkadua’s works, she exists across geographical boundaries and always returns home from a „symbolic refuge“. Her Paintings: Black Sea, Sniper, Tamada, Otobaia, Diver, In Black, Ice-Cream, Horrible Bird – are telling about Georgia’s geopolitical situation  and Russian occupied territories of Georgia.

eteri --tamada  .jpg



-Was it hard to sell these works in the US  Did you have any disagreements with the art dealer?

– No, on the contrary. Despite the subject matter, not so familiar to many Americans, these paintings  with guns were all sold – a few intellectual individuals  with “sharp eyes” own them. I have started working on the  paintings „Otobaia“ and „Diver“ in NYC and finished them in Tbilisi. Otobaia is a small village in Abkhazia. My grand mother, Eteri Sotkilava comes from there. My mother’s aunt, who taught mathematics and physics  at the  high school  all  her life In Otobaia, never left her  home even after the Russian invasion. I remember the lush gardens of persimmon trees,  as once  I sneaked over the border, near to Russian soldiers.  Farewell, restrained tears, and the hope of  return  — this is what underlies composition of the painting  „Otobaia“ .


In the painting Diver,  a  Diver emerging from the waves of the Black Sea, after blowing up the ship. An idea for this painting came to me,  when I learned about President Sarkozy of France selling to  Russia the amphibious assault ship  Mistral,  right after the Georgia-Russia 5 day war in 2008 .

Selling a Mistral-class vessel to Russia appeared to be extremely hypocritical on the part of President Sarkozy’s government, considering that this news arrived right after France had brokered the deal for a cease-fire between Georgia and Russia. (On 3 September 2014, French President François Hollande announced the postponement of delivery of the warship, due to the Russia–Ukraine war, and later it was sold to Egypt.)


Paintings “Black Sea” and “Sniper”  I finished  in July 2008, a few weeks before the 58th Army entered South Ossetia, and chased 100,000 people away from their homes.

The painting Ice-cream  tells the story about  an incident during the war that engulfed streets of Sukhumi  in 1992: A man on a bicycle with a box of ice-cream  to sell passes by the road and froze—confused and frightened.  Suddenly, the shooting stopped on both sides, the fighters  left their positions, came out and  bought ice-cream. A few minutes later the shooting resumed.

The sacks of sand in the painting  reminds viewer of the war, and I wanted to show combination of  both:   pleasure of  having  ice cream and the tragedy in expression of a women in the painting.


– Are you a prototype of this woman?

– Yes, just as  in a Black Sea and a Sniper,  a  woman in painting Ice Cream — looks like me.Usually, people looking at my paintings,  perceive me as a strong woman. However, my painting is about the sensitivity of a strong women. You feel strong and successful when you have ambitions of creating real art. Your  entire life is based on life  experiments, especially as an emigre in a foreign country, where you do  start everything from scratch by yourself. Andy Warhol’s famous saying about 15-minute fame in America, is  right.  You have to work intensively and keep  proving that you’re  just as good year after year. 


THE_POOL_NYC, ETERI_CHKADUA, Photo:Cosimo_Filippini_2018

– Alien Bloom – a colorful installation – your new project , is about ecological challenges. When did you become interested in this issue?

– I have been collaborating  on this project with my brother, Gocha Chkadua, since  2010 when we both arrived  to Tbilisi from  US. There was no recycling of plastic disposable containers in Georgia.  We have accumulated many plastic bottles and thought to do something  about them rather  than  throwing them away with all the rest of the  stuff into a garbage bin. Gocha started making sculptures of flowers from the mall in my studio. They resembled Alien looking  flora and  we called the project  Alien Bloom. Later I painted this sculptures  into  my paintings. I also used black and white photos of our childhood and created a hallucinatory  landscape  of a  colorful “alien planet” . These paintings are set among  sculptural flora, there are  texts and  video film  in a complete  installation. Sure,  I am concerned about the environment.  it is a global threat, a serious problem.

Mama (Since January)

10  Chkadua  Mother


The installation includes paintings series on homeless people in streets of NYC. For entire year  2018 I painted these paintings. Homeless People on the streets  are  for different reasons, however this topic subconsciously related to my situation, probably because  of myself having a Nomadic lifestyle – on the road, with my luggage, frequently moving from one country to another. As one American journalist told me: people, who travel and work over years  in different countries, experience “psychological homelessness” . I have been  experiencing  it  too. 

irakli pirvelis foto.jpg

08 Chkadua  Since January



– Which painting is about love?

– I think  love can be read intensively in my paintings .  Love is a crazy feeling, gives you strength, unusual sense of freedom. Emotions that are expressed  by my characters,  are result  of love and passion.

I would like to end this writing with words of Carlo Mutoni, an art-critic for Extraordinart: “Eteri carves into the soul of the human psyche, bringing to surface the pearl of unspoken messages we are left to decipher. What a selfless act from an artist! Letting the viewer with the intellectual pleasure to unveil the story!”







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