It was nature which made David Kakabadze an artist. From childhood his mind has
imprinted Imereti hills, parental house, Mother, sitting in the yard under the
tree and twirling a thread on a spindle, with Father squatting beside her,
smoking a long pipe. He couldn’t take his eyes off the distant mountains covered
with sun rays and handmade household utensils.
D. Kakabadze. In a Kutaisi Courtyard. Circa 1913.
He saw the first original when an unknown
artist drew his father’s portrait. Father – Nestor Kakabadze
– operated a ferry on the Rioni and made a living with it.
He was a good companion and trevellers liked his company.
Father hung his portrait on the wall in the house. David
tried his best to paint something similar to it. Sometimes
he would drop in a dyeing shop. The dyers never refused him
and gave paints, left on the bottom of casks, free of
charge. He tried to learn from nature, imitate it, but was
never satisfied. He knew that he had to learn much. In the
gymnasium his talent was appreciated. Father helped him as
much as he could.
The first to open a private studio in Kutaisi
was the Russian Krotkov, then the Pole Pajevsky. David went to both
studios, but the artists did not stay long in the town. David
continued to work independently. The elder brother sent him from
Vienna, where he studied at the University, a text-book, and the
future artist followed its guidelines, but all that was not enough.
The green leaves, lighted by sun, were much more impressive in
reality than the ones, he painted on his small canvas.
D. Kakabadze. Landscape. 1908–1909.
The industrious student
of the gymnasium taught to the students of lower classes,
for which he received a small remuneration. With the
collected money he bought a photo camera, and the first
photo he took was the one of himself. Such interest already
attests to his inner drive towards novelty but David had to
wait long before he had a chance to learn about what was
going on in the world art, what the new epoch had brought.
The century of iron and industrialization had not yet
arrived in his native land.
David in the first photograph taken with his own camera. 1908.
Most of all he liked to climb up to Bagrati Cathedral. From there he viewed
surroundings, spellbound from admiration. It was as if he could fly over the
world like a bird. He had not seen a plane yet. He walked among in some places
mossy architectural fragments, straggled around the cathedral, touching complex
plaiting of ornaments. He even took copies of the ornaments, as he had been
taught by the visiting pedagogues. He wanted to penetrate into the mystery of
those ornaments. He visualized nature and art in unity.
He did not know that somewhere in faraway Bavaria Wassily Kandinsky had already
arrived at the idea that the two universes – the universe of art, on the one
hand, and the universe of nature, on the other, are independent of each other,
that art has its own autonomous laws, which imparted peculiar freedom to one of
the founders of Abstractionism.
Kakabadze begins to study from nature, but, similar to Cézanne, Kandinsky and
some other artists, also unknown to him, he penetrates into nature deeper than
it is possible by only visual means. This is because he is inspired by light,
space, line and colour, rather than a concrete image. But for the time being he
tries to balance everything with nothing but concrete images, viewed by him.
D. Kakabadze. Imeretia. 1915.
He is particularly attracted by the mystery of green – green grass, green roofs
of Gelati cathedral, green trees, the green of mountains turned into the blue.
The brushstrokes on his Gelati landscape (1908) are so free, that they palpitate
and acquire independent life – very analogous to that what Kandinsky does
simultaneously in Bavaria.