Davit Kakabadze (1889-1952) - a Georgian painter, graphic artist and scenic designer, also an art scholar and innovator, was born in 1889, in a poor peasant family in the village of Kukhi, Imereti.
His paintings appeared in the Georgian media as early as in his school years. He studied natural sciences at the physico-mathematical faculty of St. Petersburg University, from which he graduated in 1916.
Simultaneously, he attended painting classes at the studio of Dmitroyev-Kavkazsky until 1915. He had an intimate knowledge of the emerging movements of Russian and West European art. As a student, he did research on old Georgian arts. Davit Kakabadze remained in St. Petersburg until 1918. From 1918-19 he lived in Georgia. .
During the period from 1919 to 1927 Davit Kakabadze lived in Paris partaking in the annual exhibitions of the Societe des Artistes Independants. He was actively engaged in mounting exhibitions jointly with other Georgian artists (his personal exhibition was held in the United States): he lectured on various aspects of art; developed his interest in stereoscopic cinema and was granted many European patents for his inventions; published theoretical works in the Georgian and French languages. Davit Kakabadze is one of the outstanding figures of Georgian art. He was the first to introduce monumental decorative landscapes and is considered one of the leading pioneers of Georgian stage design. He died in Tbilisi, in 1952.
The letter is addressed to the artist's elder brother - Professor Sargis Kakabadze - an historian and philologist by profession. He was born in 1866. Initially he studied at Vienna University and later graduated in oriental studies from St Petersburg University. In 1911-19 he delivered lectures at Tbilisi's high school for women. His career experience includes years as a researcher at the Caucasus Institute of History and Archaeology under the USSR Academy of Sciences; head of the antiquities protection department; chief of the historical archive of Georgia; chief of the ancient documents division of the same archive. His main fields of research were the socio-economic and political history of Georgia, philology and textology.
A LETTER TO BROTHER
My dear brother Sergo, I'm now in Pshavi feeling pretty good, writing this letter from Magaroskari, a small poverty-stricken village with a thoroughly miserable store and a post office. I came here from Pirikita Khevsureti where I spent my time most profitably, doing a long series of sketches and drawings.
You may be wondering what on earth I'm doing in this out-of-the-way wretched place. I'll try to make myself clear: as you know my exhibition held in May in Tbilisi's Orient Hotel left the city buzzing with rumours, which is only natural for a small city like Tbilisi wallowing in hearsay and gossip. I must admit a large part of society did not or maybe could not puzzle out the meaning I had packed into my paintings. Nor could the official press capture the essence of what my paintings are all about. A May 9 issue of the Communist Newspaper reads; "The exhibited paintings throw us info a state of deep confusion, understandably though, since it is the first-ever European-style exhibition in Georgia. There is hardly any painting conveying a sense of relaxation, consolation or moral relief. It is regrettable that the exhibition failed to earn Davit Kakabadze the title of "artist of impeccable taste". My works were labeled as "devoid of meaning"; critics censured me for being a "formalist".
Such evaluations, apart from being insulting, are meant to contain some elements of threat. I don't think the Bolshevik Government is very appreciative of my behavior in Paris. The thing is that, while in Paris, I was summoned to appear at the People's Commissariat for Education of the Soviet Republic of Georgia. They even remitted £50 to cover my travel expenses. The man who handed over the money to me in late December of 1922 was Jakeli, a representative of the Chiatura black-stone enterprise "Chemo". But I quickly spent the money (£50 is not a sum that can stay long in your pocket in Paris) and could not return to Georgia.