Anri Basilaia

Born in 1960 in Tbilisi in Georgia in a artists’ and musicians’ family, Anri Basilaia starts working in 1979 with his father who is a composer. Singer and guitar player, his artistic trajectory determined by music is more and more imbued by drawing. While travelling he always keeps with him his sketch-book and his pencil. Instructed by his uncle, Eduard Gukasov, a painter, Basilaia tries different techniques like the drawing, pastel, collage and oil painting. Entering into 1997 to the Higher School of Theatre and Cinema of Tbilisi, he shares his time between music and painting, the discipline that will gain over in 2003, the year he moved to Paris.

What do we see at a first glance? A certain consistency in the motif of reference: passer-bys walking, running to their goal in a multitude of ways: at a large gap, in a awkward position, letting down, in a determined way.

Coloured personages, if not to say slightly acid, fluorescent. Marionettes without strings. Passer bys who give very few indications on their true identity, and even less on their intentions. A Georgian woman with red hair, a white-headed clown… And also some accessories: a violin, a knife, a bird … Dancers and peasants, women for most of them. But the motif is always the same, this advancing body, crossing the frame according to his mood, his lateness or his madness. Like on an orchestral score, like in real life. A musical writing unrolled sometime from right to the left, sometimes from left to the right.

Based on the tears and accidents resulting from this approximate artistic movement, the mixed technique of Anri Basilaia is made of old newspaper collages enhanced through painting or pastel. Patchwork here again, both in his choice of materials and in chromatic confrontations. On a generally dark background burns something spontaneous, immediate, stolen from the time.

The falsely childish universe of Anri Basilaia brings up the Outsider Art which would be reviewed from the position of poster artists of the New realism, as Mimmo, Rotella, Raimond Hains or Jacques de la Villeglé. With a sole difference that his discourse is less the one of a critique of the consumption society through an advertising poster, but more of an expression of an individual like a solitary entity marching towards his destiny. An individual with the body in motion that flows in a dynamic of a trip, a dynamic animated by a mysterious context. Who are they, what values are they defending, what use are they making of them? And especially where are they going? As though urgency situated outside of the field of vision and which is their final destination pushes these dressed up personages in a senseless wind. Heroic walk , nuptial walk, forced walk? A Walk anyway.

Scrolled bodies by Anri Basilaia protect these unknown figures from a narrative interpretation of these instants. Those unknown whom we will never know. What a chance for scenario fantasies that they allow us to nurture.

Stéphan Lévy-Kuenz