The relationship between art and junk is a repeated source of irritation. It causes a tightrope walk between two extremes. Either you think art made of junk is the height of impudence or you end up praising it as a stroke of genius. We‘re left with a sense of provocation, confusion and scandal, and all too often this tension sends recipients on the warpath. And for what? So that at the end of the day a Beuys or a Kippenberger are forced to watch in disbelief as the question is asked whether their works are art or whether they can go to the bin. Born in 1971 in Georgia, artist Gotscha Gosalishvili, on the other hand, seems to have found a devious method to bypass this tension, with his conversion pieces. Even though he works with discarded pieces, objects and works of art, there is a difference in his approach. After all, no matter how small the amount, he actually goes out and spends cash on the things he transforms into his art – or which he declares as such.
The thing that drives him in this process of finding and refashioning other people‘s art and canvases is the search for a new evaluation or to try and trick any attempts at evaluating other works of art. The works he finds, transforms and repositions in this new art context are typically looked down upon as amateurish, as mere handicrafts. Gosalishvili doesn‘t subscribe to that. In fact, he sees the contrary. By embellishing strange sculptures, odd series of pictures and other seemingly pointless objects with his painting, he creates a new perspective of what was previously a result of someone‘s hobby. He aims to find out whether there might not be a touch of genius hidden in these pictures or objects normal society has created. He‘s not being patronizing or sarcastic. He isn‘t in it for the ridicule. Instead, he feels and visualizes a type of affection. You could even say respect.
If the handicraft pieces Gosalishvili finds have one thing in common, and one thing that differentiates them from the official, highly capitalist art industry, then it is their spontaneity, the freedom that belies the creative process. You could almost claim Gosalishvili envies the artists for their distance from any forms of expectations. How they don‘t in the slightest consider the art industry when they set about sculpting and painting. For him, these discarded pieces of what we have come to consider as scrap or junk reflect society in its purest form. The art market doesn‘t deliver these types of perspectives or answers. It can camouflage, it can mask, it can decorate. But it seldom takes the liberty of making any statements. The inventory in a thrift store or second-hand shop, on the other hand, therefore offers him a much more immaculate canvas – no matter how questionable the definitions of the works may be (art, painting, sculpture, handicrafts). That‘s why he is more than willing to accept the patina, the traces of nicotine, the small or large imperfections.
The approach Gosalishvili then adopts is to mutate the themes, circumstances, the histories he finds in the pieces. He accentuates the seemingly invisible traces they already manifest. In doing so, he gets the viewer to adopt a new perspective in future for that which we may – with hindsight – have considered of no value. It still irritates. It‘s also highly provocative. But it isn‘t scandalous. Quite the opposite, in fact. The scandal lies in the fact that nobody has previously considered this option. The shame is the that this tension between the institutionalised art industry and its twilight world in real society have never been illuminated like this. We may not need applaud Gosalishvili. We should probably be applauding the original creators; but we should at least appreciate his contribution. Oliver Köhler