He started painting in early childhood. He studied at the Iacob Nikoladze Art College, but it was Alexandre (Shura) Bandzeladze’s private studio that became for him the real school of artistic mastery. To this day, Merab recalls the years spent there with immense gratitude. This is because Mr. Alexandre was not only an outstanding teacher, but also a man endowed with many virtues.
In his youth, Merab took part in scientific expeditions organised to study the Ateni Sioni frescoes. These expeditions headed by Merab’s father, Dr. Guram Abramishvili, an art historian and doctor of Philosophy strongly influenced the formation of his personality and thinking.
Merab Abramishvili was very young when he first started painting the
copies of the frescoes of the Ateni Sioni Monastery and it was with enormous
enthusiasm and passion that he continued this work for many years.
The eighties were Merab’s formative years as a professional painter. In 1981, he graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Art, the Faculty of Drawing. In 1987, he made his first significant work “The Three Hundred Aragvians”.
In order to attain the artistic expressiveness of medieval easel painting, he applies the Leukas technique which was developed in the same epoch and was used in fresco painting.
The Leukas technique is applied on wood which is first covered with chalk and a resin priming. After that the painter makes the initial drawing with tempera paints which is then partially watered down, and afterwards is the main work done. At the very end, the surface of the picture is covered with egg-yolk. Thus, a work executed by means of this quite complicated and laborious method creates the association of a fresco.
A thorough study of the Ateni Sioni wall paintings has determined the predominance of religious themes in the painter’s artistic creations. “The Last Supper”, “Annunciation”, “Mourning”, “Crucifixion”, “Gabriel”, “The Morning Angels”, “Resurrection”, “Apocalypse” – these are the themes that the painter repeatedly returns to in his work.
Along with the love for Georgian frescoes, the motifs of oriental decorative art are also prevalent in Merab Abramishvili’s works.
“At a certain stage of my creative development, my artistic thinking changed, demanding from me an abundance of colour. So I began to study the eastern (Persian) miniatures,” the painter says.
He created his next series of works based on the interpretation of these motifs: “Shah Abbas”, “The Silk Road”, “Kharakiri”, “Harem”…
The organic merging of these two very different artistic trends (the Georgian fresco and oriental miniatures) has produced an utterly original idiosyncratic style of Merab Abramishvili’s art.
“In my childhood, I wished to become a lion-tamer, yet I was afraid of dogs!”, recalls the painter. In his youth, the painter was fascinated by the documentary works on hunting by Jim Corbet, Karl Hagenbeck, John Tener and others. The abundance of animal themes in his work echoes this passion - “A Cannibal from Kumaon”, “Rudrapraiag panther”, “Condor”, “Giraffe”, “Lion”, “Deer”…
On the outskirts of the Ateni village, there is a house built to accommodate the expedition. It stands there separately, away from the other buildings, with the 5th century kvevris (wine vessels) and an “Atenian” grape arbor.
“For me Ateni is like revisiting the primal source. Here, I feel filled with energy and I paint nearly all day and night.”
Today, however, unlike the days of his youth, the painter instills life
into the reddened bush of eglantine growing on a slope, a sparrow
sitting on the balcony railings, a fox disappearing in the shrubs and a
snail which has crawled out in the morning dew…