Musya Keburia, 26, Tbilisi
“I am a graphic designer by profession and I’m also a street artist. I’ve admired this way of painting since childhood. My first experience with street art was in my first year at The Academy of Arts. There was a contest held between universities and I took part in it. That was the first time I held spray paint in my hand. I liked this process so much that I gradually started studying and practicing on my own. When I first started painting, there were no good spray paints available – only the low-quality ones which cost 3 lari. Plus, I knew nothing about the painting techniques specific to this movement. You only improve your technique with experience. Finally, this activity became my hobby and a source of income.
I generally paint in many different directions: ideologically, technically, with materials. I have projects related to social issues and they are absolutely independent, created out of my own will. I also have commercial orders which I do according to the requests of the clients. I think that street art and art, in general, should echo social issues / problems. Much of my work has played a vital role in politics, culture, etc. A street artist has certain obligations in this matter; their art should be expressing protest as well as having its own meaning and importance.
In my case, there are specific topics which I try to echo. For example, I made a painting about decriminalization on the Marjanishvili street called “I don’t want to pee”. Also regarding the 17th of May, when activists decided to paint near the patriarchate and got very bad feedback. If it had happened anywhere else, it wouldn’t have got such a response from the state. The police acted as a defender of the patriarchate and the activists got oppressed yet again. Their arrest inspired me to make a painting on the wall depicting a priest and a policeman making out. This may have been a cause of irritation for many but I said what I had to say in my own way. I created the painting at around 1-2 am. I woke up between 6-7 am to go there and take photos of my work but it had already been erased. I knew they would erase it on the same day but I didn’t expect such a quick reaction.
I’ve been hearing these words since childhood: “Stop scribbling and read instead!” There is an obsession about reading in my family. You should always have a book in your hands and read continuously. They could see I always had a pencil in my hand, drawing – so they had a different attitude towards me. They were afraid that I wouldn’t be able to support myself after enrolling in an art school. Both the society and my family thought that it would be hard for a painter to earn her own living. Finally, when I got into art school I got a score of 92 in painting and I got both a funding and a scholarship. The first thing my father said to me after that was to paint more.
The attitude of the public is almost always positive. Everyone who has worked with me while painting or was in touch with me had a positive attitude. At first, they don’t get what I am doing or what I am “ruining” but then they like it. They see that you work hard and they appreciate that.
As for the competition, there is more competition between street artists in big cities than here; like who’s involved in more projects, who provides better products, who gets chosen, etc. There is competition here as well but it’s very healthy. We help each other, try to promote and establish the culture of street art.
I take part in competitions on a regular basis. A 3-day festival, one of the biggest ones, was held in Kharkov. I went to that festival with the support of the city hall. I created and presented a project on the Georgian alphabet. It was liked both here and there. They were really happy that it was not only a beautiful painting but also had a Georgian theme. This work received a very positive feedback. I always try to leave a small trace of myself in every country I visit. My paintings in Georgia are mostly in Tbilisi and Batumi, also Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe.
I always try to follow wall painting and take this activity more seriously. I want to have my own workshop. Apart from painting, I also do handmade jewelry and I want to open my own workshop to work in many different directions and make time for small projects as well.
Author: Nino Gamisonia
Photo: Salome Tsopurashvili
Translation: Ani Gogberashvili