July 29, 2021

Georgian artist Rezo Gabriadze, grand master of puppetry, has died

Salomé Zourabishvili, President of Georgia, deplored “A huge loss for culture” of his country, after the announcement of the death of Rezo Gabriadze, on June 6, in Tbilisi, the capital. Designer, painter, sculptor, writer, screenwriter, grand master of puppetry, Rezo Gabriadze was 84 years old, and he was an angel: his imagination flew through time. She made up stories that took us under inverted skies, into a world where a weeping ant in the bloody fields of Stalingrad rubbed shoulders with a mad locomotive of love launched through the Caucasus mountains. Rezo Gabriadze was nourished by myths, like Georgia, land of Colchis and Prometheus, but these myths owed only to him, to his big melancholy and tricky black eyes, to his way of being there and elsewhere. , in the dreamed landscape of his childhood.

It was in Kutaisi, a hundred kilometers west of Tbilisi, where he was born on June 29, 1936. In his father’s family, there were stonemasons. “Maybe that’s where my taste for sculpture came from”, said Rezo Gabriadze, who learned from a teacher whose own teacher had trained with Rodin in Paris. ” One day, he remembered, my teacher told me a terrible secret during Stalin’s lifetime: he told me that there was a painter in France called Picasso. But it should not be repeated. It was dangerous. ” In Koutaïssi, Rezo Gabriadze also discovers Alexandre Dumas, at the library. And with him, the passion for France, and for writing. After completing an internship as a screenwriter in Moscow, he embarked on journalism, then in the cinema, where he invented his chronicles of Soviet times, in a comedy version.

Wonderful shows

Rezo Gabriadze wrote around 30 screenplays, and many films he collaborated on have become classics, such as Baby (1977), directed by Gueorgui Danielia (1930-2019). But, over the years, the work has become scarce. “The authorities were watching me, and I lacked diplomacy. I was kicked out of the cinema explains Rezo Gabriadze. I was 40 years old, I was an artist, painter and sculptor, with no workshop or colors, nothing. “ That’s when Boria comes into her life. One day, when he is at home in Tbilisi, wondering what will become of him, he carves a plank which is used to hold a door. A bird is born: his first puppet. Impossible not to love him, this Boria, little Boris 15 centimeters high, with his red plumage, his burnt wings and his trickster look, like that of his “father”. On its own, it tells the whole story of Rezo Gabriadze’s puppet theater, which began in the early 1980s in a very small hall in the old town (40 seats), with an adaptation of The Lady of the Camellias, of Dumas, the son, this time.

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