LIVES AND WORKS
LIVES AND WORKS
DATE OF BIRTH
Nestan Mikeladze (b. 1986) is a Georgian-born artist, based in Tbilisi.
She had her first solo exhibition, “Transformation” in 2014 at Tumanishvili Theater, as part of its emerging artists program. Her second group exhibition, “The Other Self”, was held at Fabrika Space Tbilisi in 2017.
She was finalist for the 2022 Figurative International Juried Art Competition, held by Art Show International Gallery.
She received Honorable Mention Award in art competition “living cities”, held by UPWARD Gallery in 2022.
She has been interviewed and featured by Al-Tiba9 Contemporary Art. Her interview is included in a limited addition museum-quality print art book “A like Artist“ 2022. See full interview on the following link: https://www.altiba9.com/platfrom-interviews-for-artists/nestan-mikeladze-paiting-feminist.
Article about her has been published by AT.ge, local digital magazine covering cultural and social life of Tbilisi. See full article on the following link: https://at.ge/2022/11/18/nestanmikeladze/.
She has received mentorship from Dr. Christianna Bonin, critic at Artforum.
Her work has been featured in several art magazines, such as the Bank of Georgia’s digital magazine, Top Magazine and on Contemporary Art Collectors platform.
Recently I became a feminist, though I hesitated to call myself as such. In Georgia, where I grew up and where my practice is based, a stigma exists around the term of “feminism". The standard view of a “feminist” is that of a woman who wants to dominate men and who aggressively rejects the feminine parts of herself. But for me, feminism is about equality, autonomy, and respect among all genders.
My decision to pursue art-making was a decision to forge this path to equality. In my work, you will see how a woman emerges from being blended and uncertain to bold and defined. You will see the female figure as she is undergoing a process of becoming self-aware, empowered, and ultimately liberated. To make these images was, for me, a risky statement. It is a way of saying ‘I can do it,’ because in my world, women are seldom expected or allowed to risk so much. I want to share with others the strength that I have felt through art-making. I use thin oil paints to not only convey transparency but also because it is an unpredictable medium. It is one that I cannot easily control and thus I am surprised by. It has its own way.
I was born and raised in a patriarchal society. I started to understand that quite late in my life. In childhood, I remember experiencing a feeling of unfairness while observing the lives of women around me, especially that of my mom. She ran the household: taking care of the kids, doing all the chores, and running errands. I never saw her interests being considered, even articulated. I never saw her doing anything for herself; nor did I see anyone helping her take care of herself. I was protesting inside and knew that I wanted something different for myself. I felt that something was imbalanced.
Real awareness of the situation started when I found myself in the role of the women from my childhood. It was a role of wife, mother and employee. I had a career in finance for 14 years, holding senior roles and ultimately in top management. A woman who aspires to a career in finance, a male-dominated industry, has to prove herself multiple times over. She is expected to excel at everything and still might not be considered as one of their own.
Despite rarely expressing her own desires, my mom created opportunities for me to form and articulate my own opinions and wishes. I remember my mom never internalizing the norms established within society as her own and appropriate to raising me. She wasn’t content to act as other mothers did. This provided an example to me of what it meant to treat others on their own terms. It gave me a sense of fairness.
The first battle I had to overcome was separating what I considered to be right for me from what others said was right for me. This first battle was thus an internal one, with myself. As I figured out what was right for me, the second battle started, this time with pseudo-equality. It was a situation in which I was required to play all roles rather than sharing responsibilities: being educated and having a career, while also being responsible for my household. The road was difficult, sometimes even pushing me to give up. But just like a cut branch can be planted, grow roots, and become strong, so will you, so will we. We must act. As Gloria Steinem once said, “truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
WHO I AM
My art is a manifestation of deformities caused by social pressures.
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