Sculptor and Visual Artist | Russia
Born in 1959, in the Black Sea coastal town of Ochamchiri in the Caucasus, Igor Tcholariya’s life, on the whole, was fairly patriarchal. The biggest event of the year was when the Moscow Circus came to town. The animals, clowns in their vibrant costumes, and agile acrobats fired my imagination and became favourite characters of many of my paintings.
Igor’s artistic skills were noticed at school and he gained a place at the Sukhumi School of Art. In those days getting in there was quite competitive and the teachers were excellent. Far away from the strictures of capital life, they were taught about artists who did not enjoy official approval. It was there that he first discovered and came to love great early-20th century French art. His teacher, the artist Givi Ghergaya, had a huge influence over him.
After graduating from the Sukhumi School, he continued his studies at St Petersburg’s Mukhin Institute, but spent just as much time at the Hermitage, studying and copying the Impressionists and European Old Masters.
When perestroika started, he became one of the first artists doing street portraits. He was spotted by a gallery owner from Italy where he was to put on his first solo shows. Next followed invitations to Robinsons, a leading gallery in the Belgian town of Knokke, and his collaboration began with Dutch gallery owner Mark Peet Visser. He also exhibited at celebrated dealer Roy Miles’s London gallery. Over the past 25 years he has taken part in a great many international shows in various countries, as well as in Moscow.
Tcholariya’s artworks are now in collections all over the world, including those of celebrities such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Luciano Pavarotti, Jean-Pierre Richard, Gérard Depardieu, Madonna, and John Galliano, well-known sports and business personalities, and simply art lovers. He also succeeded in winning an international competition and painted two vast panels for the world’s largest cruise liner, the Queen Mary 2.