Interview with Maya Sumbadze

Natia Bukia
Dec 17, 2014 1:27PM
Untitled, 2014
Project ArtBeat
Untitled, 2014
Project ArtBeat

Project ArtBeat presents Georgian artist Maya Sumbadze. You can see her artworks on our webpage

Georgian artist Maya Sumbadze was born in Tbilisi, 1972. She lives in Tbilisi and works on a lot of different projects. She has been an active artist since 17 years old.

After graduating from school Maya studied at Niko Nikoladze College and later at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. In 1990s she lived in the Netherlands for a year and studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. She was a member of artistic collective GOSLAB from 1990 to 2000. 

Mariam Loria - To begin with, how and when did you start painting?

Maya Sumbadze - I started painting in my childhood. I used to paint as other children. Later I realized interest towards paper. Something happened to me: my grandfather was an architect, my father was a designer and an architect. I was in the art world throughout my childhood and loved it. I was watching how they used to paint, to draw. Finally, I found myself in that world.

M.L. – When did you seriously start painting?

M.S. – I started working seriously when I entered Nikoladze College. I worked at Nikoladze and then at the Academy. However, I did more at home or at private workshops. I graduated from Nikoladze and continued studies at the Academy. But nothing interesting was happening at the Academy in 1990.

M.L. – How did you get at the Rietveld Academy?

M.S. – I was in Amsterdam and it was great. I don’t remember exactly but I was nearly 17. I decided to study there. Then I sent my artworks and a portfolio in Rietveld. I studied there one year and got a lot. It was different from studying in Georgia. I can’t say that I had radically changed in Rietveld. Simply, this was one of the steps to the great road. I did not continue my studies there. At that time I was 20 or 21 years old. When I returned to Tbilisi I should have continued studying at the Academy but still nothing was happening there.

M.L. – What are your early works like?

M.S. – Graphics, photos, paintings… That period of my life has already passed. I have very little to show from that period.

M.L. – I want to ask you about Goslab as you were one of the members of it. Who were you, how did you cooperate and what were you doing?

M.S. – I can’t call it cooperation. We were close friends. We had not planned anything serious. It was like a game. Gio (my brother), Nick Machaidze, Chubika, Tusia Beridze, Salome Machaidze, Tamuna Qarulidze, Zaza Rusadze and I were in the “Goslab”. We were making exhibitions, audio and video artworks, shows. Our artworks (individual and group) were named after Goslab. It was not official. We were very close friends and relatives and we had a lot in common except art. We were together all the time. Everything happened easily without any burdens… Goslab existed for long and everything was happening naturally.

M.L. – Today you are working on prints and graphic works. When did you start making such artworks?

M.S. – I don’t remember exactly but I have been making computer graphic for a long time. About 7 or 8 years ago Max (author’s note: Max is Maya’s son) bought a digitaiser for me and I liked it very much. I paint digitally. The process is interesting and gives an opportunity to conduct a lot of experimental methods. Then I print them at home on different kinds of paper and work by hand. Sometimes I print colorful digital versions.

M.L. – Which of your exhibitions was important and good experience for you?

M.S. – Most of all I liked an exhibition – On the Way at Vato Tsereteli’s Center of Contemporary Art (CCA). I made an installation there. I liked the process and the result too. Last year I made an exhibition in the same space, maybe I wanted to continue “On the Way”. It was an interesting step for me.

M.L. – Do you have any more projects you have worked on and think they are important?

M.S. – Except my copyright works, I also make illustrations of a book, magazine, posters and cards. I like and have interest towards this field.

M.L. – Words, phrases and inscriptions are frequent in your recent artworks…

M.S. – Yes, I am working on this now. I like when texts are included in the artworks. Besides, it is very interesting how the text corresponds to the other part of the object.

M.L. – When do you feel that artwork is ready? As it seems you give a great importance to the aesthetic side.

M.S. – Visual side is very important for me and I really can’t avoid it. On the contrary, I am interested in it. I want the artwork to be aesthetic and I am towards positive emotions. I should like the artwork myself. But it does not excludes the artwork to be functional. In any case, the artwork has its meaning and it is not solely aesthetic.

M.L. – Do you make artworks according to your mood?

M.S. – In principle, I have not impulsive artworks. My artworks express long periods of my life. I don’t work impulsively any more.

M.L. – How do you make the artworks with synthetic materials? When did you begin making them? Please, tell the story of these works.

M.S. – From time to time I make such kinds of artworks. I use different kinds of paper – old and new. One of such artworks is available at Project ArtBeat.  A painting is involved in this artwork – “Flying Objects and Monuments”.

Besides, I have used ornaments made by my grandfather. He was an architect and left a lot of interesting materials.

I want to make plenty of things but time passes quickly and I can’t handle. In addition, I have some orders too and don’t have enough time…

M.L. – Are you planning any exhibition or project in the near future?

M.S. – I want to make an exhibition. When I have time I work and think about it. I will exhibit several kinds of paintings and objects. However, I can’t say exactly when it will be.

Natia Bukia