Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Merab's attraction to painting started very early. At the age of 10 he already knew he anted to be a painter. After completing his studies at the Tbilissi State Academy of Arts, he moved to Belgium to further his Arts studies at La Cambre Academy first, and then at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Due to historical family ties, Merab spends his whole youth and childhood in Georgia with artists. By the age of 25 Merab does nothing else but follow his passion. He participates in various group exhibitions and has his first solo show in 1993. His style has evolved with time. From very traditional motives and patterns his painting has undergone radical changes both in its spiritual as in its physical conception. In synch with time and space, he has added a new dimension to his works in the form of handmade acrylic figurines. This addition has allowed the artist to push further the technical boundaries imposed by his art and add both a new 3D dimension to his paintings and a way to play with the shadows created by the figurines, sculpted on the canvas. According to Merab, shadows shape, provoke tensions, disturb tonalities and give depths that would otherwise be missed. Merab currently lives in Brussels.
Merab Surviladze creates the original version of abstract painting which is conceptually based on the metaphor of shadow and its artistic-philosophical reading. Mini sculptures ‘raised’ from the canvas differ by size and scale: in some cases they resemble the groups of manikins and in other ones they are like cosmic bodies thrown away by elemental force. Chaos and spontaneous movement reveal as a principal motif expressed in various formats or intensiveness. Expressive art by Merab represents as a sort of enigma impressing viewers with its unpredictable visual and special technical manner. At a glance canvases resemble each other looking like we face different variations of one theme and later we discover elements of narration with various contents. Similar silhouettes can be perceived as a homogenous crowd only from a distance and with near approach we can distinguish them as a symbolic individual human beings transforming in identical ones only through shadow. It seems Merab asks questions on the phenomena of shadow, its possible meanings: what happens with body when it becomes a shadow ? Is it the only process of color transformation when colorful reality turns into black or grey exaggerated silhouette or shadows are just ‘demons’ expelled from inner world ? Is shadow inseparable part of the body or it can be as an independent givens ? The principal impression which his works make is stills resembling diffusion of elements by elemental force through the esthetic of visual documentations of cosmic systems. In this rhetoric the artist treats endless possibilities of montage and his series indicates infinity of artistic perception and the world in whole. The montage is a crucial point in the art by Merab and with the help of it he manages to display the picture of real drama which is not easy to visualize. Synthesizing space, bodies and shadows he touches existential problems – lives which exist in conditions of unknown regularity. Merab intends to show a space which is real but needs a special way to make it evident. Merab Surviladze works and lives in Brussels. He was born and got his first education in art in Tbilisi, Georgia – in a Post-Soviet country, where beside periods of political – economic crisis the artistic field is in the process of transformation too. Merab participates in it also and periodically he gives shows for Georgian audience. In common he is inspired mostly by tendencies of international art scene and always reacts on the characteristic rhythm and reflections of the epoch. He summed up his various experimentations into Shadow Series which is the important phase of this artistic biography.
Dr. Khatuna Khabuliani