Jemal Gugunava

Born in: 1950, Tbilisi, Georgia

Lives in: Bristol, UK and Prague, Czech Republic

Media: Painting

Describe your work in 3 words: Freedom, simplicity, expression

See More Work: - Instagram@jemal_gugunava - Saatchi Art Online

Elene with Pigtails - Oil on canvas 60 x 45 cm

"I don’t like to make statements and talk about my work. I rather communicate with people using a brush, palette knife, canvas and deep oil colours. One thing I can say. I would like to live in a safe and beautiful world and not fear about my children and grandchildren futures. I believe and hope that by doing my art I show the way for the development of humanity and for a better existence."

What themes does your work involve?
I enjoy painting everything that catches my eye and imagination: landscapes, places, streets, people, simple still lives and female forms. This variety of subjects is probably influenced by the academic education I received in the former Soviet Union. It would be boring to paint the same things all the time or something that fits the term “contemporary art” just to be accepted by commercial art galleries. My biggest passion is portraiture. I like to paint people whom I love or who have a mysterious glamour, famous people and especially those not famous. A particular painting reflects my mood and a spontaneous outpouring of emotions that occurs at the moment when I work with a sitter. This magical process is very exciting for me. I paint not a person but a time and state of mind.
Describe your creative process.
My creative process begins when I completely switch off from real life and dive into some other place. Time and space cease to exist around me. The creative process is a subconscious activity: as if the work is being done on its own, as if someone or something is dictating to me what to paint and how. If I could describe my work in words, I would not be an artist, but a writer or poet. I am often asked how I come to the idea of a new work or how I start a new work. I answer them: "I do not know" The same can be said about the completion of a work. The issue of completeness or incompleteness of a work is very complex and controversial. The picture, especially a portrait, continues the maturation process itself after completion of the work.
What influences your work? What inspires you? Why do you make art?
Music, weather, the sky colors, my mood, wise people’s quotes, pleasing forms, light, beautiful women, Bach, Mozart, Jazz, El Greco, Modigliani, Paolo Veronese, Gerard ter Borch, Johannes Vermeer and many, many other things. When I start working on a portrait, I usually start a few canvases in parallel and finish just one or two. I never work intentionally for exhibitions and I hate deadlines. Some artists say: “I need to work hard because I have a solo exhibition soon”. I don’t understand this kind of motivation. Art is my hobby. LOL! I can’t imagine my life without the smell of paints, varnish and solvent. I don't like to leave my studio for a long time. It feels to me that I'm losing something and wasting time.
What is good art? What makes a piece of art great?
Good art is that which I like. A combination of inspiration, desire and skill to make a piece of great art makes a piece of art great.
What is the role of the artist today?
The role of the artist today is the same as it was always. Someone earns money for a good life, satisfying the needs of society and leading galleries, someone earns hardly enough for a piece of bread, and someone works under the motto: I do what I want, when I want and where I want. I belong to the third category. The concept of “Art will save the world”, today, when art has become a product, and the artist’s creativity is a business, unfortunately, does not work. However, the hope still exists. Martin Luther said: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. We live in a world of borders, restrictions, rules, and responsibilities and an artist can cause us to drop our guard and build connections between people making us better and freer.

This page was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist