18.03.1896, Tiflis (Tbilisi) – 20.07.1980, Tbilisi
Painter, graphic artist, monumentalist, book illustrator, theatre and cinema decorator, teacher

Gudiashvili was born into the family of an office clerk. From 1910 to 1914 he studied at Tiflis School of Painting and Sculpture. From 1914 to 1919 he taught drawing at Tiflis No. 2 boys’ gimnaziya (grammar school). In 1915, In 1915, he had his first solo exhibition in Tiflis. In 1916, he helped found the Georgian Arts Society and was elected a member of its executive committee. He met Nico Pirosmanishvili and was strongly influenced by his work; he was also close to the Kutaisi group of poets known as the Blue Horns and the Moscow Futurists. In 1917, together with Ilya Zdanevich, he took part in an archaeological expedition investigating Georgian architectural monuments, and copied the ancient frescoes. From 1917 he was a member of the Syndicate of Futurists, and in 1918 helped organise Syndicate debates and evening functions, as well as the exhibition ‘Pictures and Drawings of the Moscow Futurists’. Also at this time he took part in exhibitions of Georgian art.

In November 1919, with a stipend from the Society of Georgian Artists, Gudiashvili went to Paris to study. From 1920 to 1925 he studied at the Académie Ranson and met the leading figures of the so-called School of Paris. His works combined the traditions of medieval Georgian art with modernist trends and they were frequently exhibited, including at the independent artists’ Salon d’Automne. They were also included in shows of Russian and Georgian artists, and he had two solo exhibitions in Paris galleries. He decorated the interior of the Caucasus restaurant, made the sets for an Italian Grand Opera tour, did the designs for Nikita Balieff’s Chauve-Souris (The Bat) cabaret productions, including the revue Not Far From Tiflis (1924). In 1925, a book about the artist by the critic Maurice Reynal was published.

At the end of 1925 he returned to Tiflis and in 1926 he organised an exhibition in the Shota Rustaveli Drama Studios. From 1927 he was a professor at Tbilisi Academy of Arts. From 1934 he was a member of the Union of Soviet Artists; he also joined the Soviet Communist Party. He illustrated Shota Rustaveli’s poem, The Knight in the Tiger Skin, and designed books, plays and films. During World War II, in 1942–1943, he created a cycle of anti-fascist ink drawings. In 1946, he was expelled from the Communist Party and dismissed from Tbilisi Academy of Arts for decorating the Kashveti church in Tbilisi. After Stalin’s death, he was fully rehabilitated and given every possible award bestowed on artists. In 1957 there was a retrospective of his work at the Art Museum of Georgia, and in 1958 in Moscow, at the USSR Union of Artists Exhibition Hall. In 1957, he was awarded the title People’s Artist of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic; in 1972, People’s Artist of the USSR; and in 1976, Hero of Socialist Labour. F.B.

Gudiashvili