“From the Chronicles of the Institute”
drawings from the years of 1941–42
19.10 - 09.12
“The war brought a lot of grief to everyone. From time to time we heard about the death of one acquaintance and friend, or relative, and then another. There were lots of other things to be worried and sad about. We underwent a great hardship when a vocational school that was evacuated from Leningrad, moved into our building and we had to relocate in the building on Rustaveli Avenue. We had to move not only the items belonging to the Institute, but also the exponents from an ancient Georgian Architecture exhibition - as we had the exhibition ready to open soon. However, working hard helped us a lot, we were young at the same time and needed some kind of compensation. We needed joy and cheerfulness. Sometimes we would unleash, and after work, start to dance jokingly, something like in Mazurka style, where almost everyone took part, including poised and too modest Sara Barnaveli and even Vano Shapakidze (we named his dancing “Pas de Shap”). But such occasions were certainly short and rare. More stable were my caricatures which I used to extensively draw during the meetings, sometimes from the nature and sometimes from my memories, by heart. Caricatures were of portrait styles, mostly – from the settings from our department’s (later from the Institute) life. I think I have not left any academician whom I had not portrayed, I was drawing everyone who even randomly dropped in at our Institute, our neighbors, museum staff members (later on, over the years, writers, architects, and others were added to my collection). My main and most frequent models were Leo Rcheulishvili and Tina Virsaladze.
My drawings were compiled in an album and my first album, which collects the drawings from the years of 1941-42 was named “The Days spent at our Department – Us and our friend-acquaintances”. Except the real life scenes, such as “The Department in winter, or winter in the Department”; “Museum yard during the reptilian relay race – moving of Zoological department from one building to another”; “Solemn opening of a Toilet in our Department”; “We are attending joint meeting at the Academy”; “We are having a breakfast” and etc.), there were scenes of fantasy as well – for instance, “Anniversary Parade” of the Georgian Art Historians”; “A Wandering Troupe of Ibn-Ali-Arshak” (Arshaka plays a hand organ, Leo strums a guitar, Tina Gypsy dances with a tambourine in her hand, Rene walks on a tightrope, and I do somersault).
“Leocoon” and “Apoleon” (Leo as Laocoön and the Apollo Belvedere – first image was Leo’s expression before his postgraduate thesis and the second one – afterwards); “Napoleon” (Two faced man like Janus – one face was of Napo and another of Leo, while they shared a common hat of Napoleon). Those caricatures were entertaining us a lot at that time. Simon Janashia, who was one of the actors of those scenes himself, enjoyed them immensely as well.
Now, more than forty years later, these caricatures are like a peculiar chronicles of our then-life. At the same time, when I look at them, I feel especially clear how we have changed since then, and how we have grown old.”
Vakhtang Beridze (1914, Kutaisi – 2000, Tbilisi) In 1936 graduated from Transcaucasian Institute of Industry, Department of Architecture. Since 1941 – staff member of the G. Chubinashvili Institute of History of Georgian Art. Director of the same institute in 1973-1988 and 1996-2000, and Honorary Director – in 1988-1996. Prof. Dr., Member of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Honoured Scientist of Georgia.
V. Beridze’s research works were mainly focused on the history of Georgian architecture. Of crucial significance are his fundamental monographs on the 12th-14th cc. churches in Samtskhe, 16th-17th cc. ecclesiastical architecture, architecture of Tbilisi in 1801-1917, Georgian architecture of 1920-1930s, which had defined general direction of the scientific research of the named historical periods.