Written as part of Bodler Giving's Global Givers initiative by a regional partner.
Story of cARTveli (a not-for-profit Art foundation established to promote contemporary Georgian artists worldwide) and its founders: Elizabeth Chachkiani,Ekaterina Moniava and Tereza Kandelaki.
Ekaterina, Tereza and I have been living in London for a long time and had an opportunity to attend many exhibitions, international Art fairs and have many friends and acquaintances in the international art world. Despite our different life experiences and backgrounds, our shared passion for Georgian art has brought us together. We established a not-for-profit foundationcARTveli to unite our resources for promoting contemporary Georgian artists worldwide. Each of us brought her own expertise to the project.
Georgian art has always been a driving force of my life and I was intimately familiar with the Georgian art milieu. Therefore, I was able to contribute to cARTveli my expertise and contacts in the contemporary Georgian art world. Ekaterina has extensive experience in the area of public relations so she is an invaluable asset for the foundation. Tereza has contributed her experience in operating a commercial art gallery. She is intimately familiar with the intricacies of the art world and hence, her role in the project is pivotal.
All three of us believed that Georgian art was not properly represented internationally. It would be fair to say that for quite some time we've all been thinking about how we could promote Georgian art. However, Tereza was the first one to verbalize our thoughts. She suggested that we create a not-for-profit foundation to promote Georgian art on the international arena.
Here is how Elizabeth and I were nudged by serendipity to lay foundation of cARTveli. A common friend of ours, the owner of a Georgian restaurant in London, Tamara Lordkipanidze asked for our assistance when a local art agent, who was selling works of a contemporary Georgian artist in London, had passed away. There were some paintings left unsold and nobody could continue the business or send artworks back to Georgia.
The paintings were stored in a basement and were at risk of being damaged by humidity. The restaurant owner requested our help in organising an exhibition of these works at her restaurant. Through the exhibition we would sell the artworks and send the funds received to the artist. We liked the idea and rolled up our sleeves. This was the first art exhibition Elizabeth and I organized. To our great delight we were able to sell almost all paintings exhibited at the restaurant within a month, many on the opening. The artist was very happy indeed.
This episode made us realize that people in the UK are interested in Georgian contemporary art as they are keen to explore new countries and artists. Furthermore, promoting Georgian art was our true calling. We also understood that the key reason we were successful in selling the artworks was our belief and determination to show the world quality of contemporary art from Georgia. The fact that we had no business interest in the sale of the artwork set us free of all inhibitions. As the two of us were contemplating how we could get more actively involved in promoting contemporary art from Georgia, Tereza came up with an idea to establish a charitable foundation. Elizabeth and I met the idea with great enthusiasm and all three of us became actively involved in establishing cARTveli.
It has been my dream to have an interesting art project without any business/commercial element. Based on my experience, when an artist creates a piece of art in order to sell it, the artist’s creativity is restricted and his final work product does not fully convey the artist’s inner world. When I came up with an idea of creating cARTveli, I was hoping to create a space for Georgian artists where their creativity would be liberated from the business framework, enabling them to freely convey their artistic vision. There was another factor that contributed to the idea of creating cARTveli. For me cARTveli has become a “tool” that allows me to contribute to my country.
I am ethnically Georgian but I have never lived in the country for an extended period of time. As a matter of fact, I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia and used to visit Georgia only on holidays. However, I have always felt that Georgia was an integral part of my identity. Georgia has enriched my life in numerous ways and has enabled me to have a multi-dimensional view of the world. I feel that it is through art that I can establish the most intimate and deep connection with Georgia. By promoting Georgian art worldwide, I feel that I give back to my country, to the country that is a big part of my identity. Thereby, promoting Georgian art abroad acquires a special significance for me.
Philanthropy in arts has been the most satisfying experience for us. I guess what makes it so unique is that it enables us to make a difference in the lives of many Georgian artists. Besides the fact that we popularize Georgian art worldwide, I think we also make a difference in each artist’s life. Through cARTveli they can bring their work to the international arena and obtain great professional satisfaction. However, there are numerous challenges too. At the initial stage we had difficulties in finding good counterparts. Many could not understand why we were contributing our own funds, time and resources to the cause. However, as the project got started, we were able to get more parties involved in the project and support came from various sources.
It would be fair to say that through cARTveli each of us has found a way to realize her potential. cARTveli is like a puzzle that came together after each of us completed it with a missing piece. What could be more fulfilling than realising your potential through helping others? Philanthropy puts your life into an infinite perspective. Such lifestyle provides endless opportunities and helps us understand who we are in the first place. Many people do not realise this, but we need philanthropy more than it needs us. Helping others is first and foremost a gesture towards yourself, since you cannot truly help someone else before you love and comprehend yourself. And this is what philanthropy does to you: it makes you a complete human being.