Georgian Journal – April 2016
If you have ever visited the famous Saint George’s Kashueti Church on Rustaveli Avenue, a mesmerizing fresco of Virgin Mary holding little Jesus in her hands above the altar would have definitely drawn your attention. In comparison with other traditional frescoes of the Theotokos, this one stands out for its earthly appearance and unusual colors. Many people, including locals, may not know that this is the masterful work of an outstanding 20th century Georgian artist, illustrator, graphic painter and theater decorator Lado Gudiashvili. According to the Georgian edition of National Geographic, as the great artist’s daughter Ms. Chukurtma recalls, at that period (during Communist rule) even passing by the church was prohibited, and correspondingly decorating the interior of the church with murals was even more dangerous. Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Callistratus offered him this work, and despite many warnings from the government, he accepted the offer. Even Candide Charkviani, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Georgia (the grandfather of famous Georgian singer Irakli Charkviani), told Lado to think carefully before making this decision.
Eventually the painter fulfilled his promise and adorned the church with exquisite murals following Catholicos-Patriarch’s request in 1946. During the painting process he had to quit working yet still managed to complete the fresco. Because of this work the iconic painter was dismissed from the State Academy of Arts in Tbilisi where he used to teach and was charged with betraying Soviet ideology. The rejected painter did not organize any exhibitions for 40 years and continued working quietly until in 1957, when on his 60th birthday his paintings were put on display in the Tbilisi Art Gallery. In the exhibition were presented 835 artworks by Lado Gudiashvili which earned him universal recognition.