It’s more about friendship than sales

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

My art collecting partner, Susanna Melo, wrote this blog entry.

Saturday Keith and I took our time looking at the beautiful items on display at the International Women Association’s Christmas Expo, where we also volunteered to work at the “Book Corner” selling used books for IWA’s fundraiser. There were hundreds of stands, but the ones that caught our fancy were the Georgian arts and crafts’ tables.

I had already seen a couple of Levan Mosiashvili’s paintings at a friend’s home, but never thought that we could possibly afford to own one. We inquired about the artist’s prices and we found them reasonable. Then we looked for a painting that we were both attracted to. We found one, but before we could decide, a woman snatched it up. We left Levan’s stand, but the striking colors and compositions of his paintings continued to linger with us.

Keith and I talked. Then I went back to Levan’s stand. I learned that he would be traveling to France the next day, but he offered to meet us in the morning at McDonald’s to show us two paintings that were similar to the one we had liked. We loved both! We also liked him, so we invited Levan to come to our apartment of bare walls to continue our conversation.

Over coffee, we learned that Levan is 40, and has commuted between Georgia and France for the past 12 years. His elderly parents, wife and two children live here while he mostly works in France. He is a proud Georgian and has many friends and connections here. At the same time, he feels saddened by the conditions in which most Georgians live and feels discouraged with the politics of this country.  He’s seen it all and is the product of all the changes that have taken place in Georgia over these last couple of decades. We found Levan to be friendly, transparent, sincere, kind-hearted, and generous and we hope that this initial friendship will grow. We may go trout fishing in July!

From our apartment, Levan took us to his studio because some clients from Armenia had an appointment to see his works. We were mesmerized by his ingenuity! Like the changes that have taken place in Georgia, he, too, has gone through several distinctive painting styles (primitivism, Georgian figures, still life, landscape, cubism, French figurative, cosmic eye and abstract). Although well-known painters have criticized him for trying different styles, I applaud him for taking the risk to redirect his creativity and reinvent himself as an artist.

We ended up buying the landscape on the left as well as a cubist painting of his wife and son. Then Levan surprised us by giving us an early Christmas gift—a humorous Georgian figurative painting! We protested, but he said, “It’s more about friendship than sales.”

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

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About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

2 Responses to It’s more about friendship than sales

  1. I’m dying to buy one of his typical Tbilisi street scenes as he captures the buildings and light so well. Congratulations on owning two great pictures.
    Regards,
    Elaine

    • keithrkenney says:

      Levan is in France, but he’ll return to Tbilisi in March and in July. He has a number of solo exhibitions in major international cities this year, including St. Petersburg and Vienna, I believe. When he returns, you should visit his studio; I’m sure he’d be pleased to show you his collection of paintings. I really love several of his styles.

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