Katie Dolidze, director, artistic director of the “Gift” festival named after Tumanishvili.
– I can say without exaggeration that we lived in the era of Rezo Gabriadze. He was an ordinary … genius, because only geniuses manage to create their own world. And it is no coincidence that he dedicated part of his work to Pushkin. And he left on Pushkin Day – this is a sign. I remember how Peter Brook came to Tbilisi for the first time, in 1988. He wanted to find traces of Gurdjieff in Tbilisi, to meet with Robert Sturua. And I called him to Rezo at the theater, I wanted to introduce them. And it was believed that Brooke did not like puppetry. He didn’t want to go in any way. I told him then: “I know what you will tell me when you visit there.” I agreed, and I remember how Brook and Robik walked from the Shota Rustaveli Theater to the Gabriadze Theater. After that, great friendship began between them. Rezo then made a small Brook doll with his own hands.
And then there was a tour in Paris, at the Bobbin Theater (I personally organized, so I know what I’m talking about) – Rezo took Paris. Thus began his triumphant journey through Europe.
When I last talked to him, he said that he felt bad, could barely breathe. But he would still have lived if it were not for the serious illness of his beloved wife, Crumb, as he called her … It finished him off. And also the fact that everything was closed due to the pandemic. He told me: “I’ll probably go, Katie.” “Don’t you dare say that.” Felt something. He was in this state for 10 days, and his son Levan, such a wonderful son, took him to the hospital.
– Where will Rezo Gabriadze be buried? Have they already announced in Tbilisi?
– Many believe, and I too, that he should be buried on Mount David, in the temple of St. David. There is a pantheon of all our greats. Griboyedov was the first to rest there. Rezo personified Georgia and was a Renaissance man – artist, writer, sculptor. What he did with Torton Uidler’s American novel “Our Town” at the request of Mikhail Tumanishvili … The 200% West Georgian Kutaisi story turned out. He ogrezhinil Widler, just made a Georgian version of the American story.
I remembered something important. In one of our conversations, he said: “The most difficult thing is to remain faithful. Few people know how to do this. You remain faithful to your teacher, this is valuable. ” Genius … And when you yourself are next to a genius, he justifies your existence in your own eyes.
Yuri Rost, photographer:
– The best films of Danelia are associated with the name of Rezo Gabriadze. The first time I saw him was when I worked at Komsomolskaya Pravda: he came as a young journalist and spoke very strangely. He had some kind of independent speech. You know, there are no usual, written images. He told everything like a fairy tale, and all of them were embodied in films and texts, drawings by Pushkin, which he did with Bitov – “Pushkin Abroad”, but Pushkin had never been abroad. They placed him in Spain and other countries. They were wonderful hand-drawn albums. In general, he always drew on some scraps with a pen, ink, whatever comes to hand. He created his own world. It was easy for him in this world. He, perhaps, did not really want to communicate with people, because they interfered with him. But he invented dolls, drawings, characters, and he felt comfortable. Lately we have been talking on Skype almost every day. If I didn’t call for a couple of days, he would call and ask how he was doing and talk about his own people. Everyone was afraid to offend someone inadvertently. He was so gentle in that sense. Its main feature is the philosophy of tenderness. Everything he has is tender – performances, drawings, and films. With his departure, the tenderness will diminish in the world.
Our last conversation was about Danelia – about putting a board on the house where he lived …
Nikolay Sventitsky, publisher of the Russian Club magazine in Tbilisi.
– For the last two years, he no longer lived in Tbilisi, but in Okrokan – such a place near Tbilisi. I went there because I was afraid of getting infected, and lived there. But we talked on the phone all the time, Rezo was sociable. I always called myself. Although he spoke very quietly, he literally whispered. I remember the last conversations – he offered me books devoted to Russians in Georgia, to combine them, to make volumes out of them. He was a dreamer, but all his fantasies came true. For example, the monument to Chizhik-Pyzhik in St. Petersburg, his famous theater with a tower, which he painted with his own hands, and the walls in the cafe, and the towers. He collected things at the dump, the old chairs that are now in his cafe … So he tried to preserve the history of the city. And when friends came … how he received them! “Contemporary” has arrived – what a joy for him. He set tables for Gaft, Volchek and everyone. Loved guests.
Alina Saprykina, curator. Organizer of the exhibition Rezo Gabriadze at the Museum of Moscow:
– The author of the art project of the exposition was his son – Leo Gabriadze. The “Unusual Exhibition of Rezo Gabriadze” was multimedia, it is a retrospective of the entire work of the maestro. The theater hall, separately constructed inside the exhibition, the entrance to which was a miniature copy of the famous Puppet Theater in Tbilisi, hosted performances: “Stalingrad”, “Autumn of my spring”, “Ramona” and “The Diamond of Marshal de Fantier”. There was half the city at the opening! Rezo was at all the shows, he met the guests himself, treated them with wine before the performances, joked a lot, shared memories. It seemed that then he brought to Moscow not only his artwork and the puppet theater, but also a piece of Georgia. The project occupied the largest exhibition hall of the Museum of Moscow – the 1st building of the Provision Warehouses. Every evening, about an hour before the shows, assistants and our museum guys solemnly lifted the maestro on an armchair – along the ramp left by the museum from the former garages of the Ministry of Defense. You know, very old people, like children, are somehow especially sensitive to spaces and people. Every evening before the performance, I also came to the hall, as soon as Rezo appeared in the museum – it was very joyful to communicate with him, it is interesting to watch …
Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts Pushkin.
– He was a special person, the creator of his own world. And this world was beautiful. Whatever tools he used, whatever space he organized – theatrical, cinematic, museum – he was easily recognizable. Rezo Gabriadze had the happy opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a child. This was his secret. Through the eye of a child – who rejoices and perceives the world from its most tender, touching, human sides. Therefore, his drawing was naive, direct and lively. This is what he touched and admired so much: it’s like drawings in the margins of a notebook. The same “pictures in the fields” were his performances in the puppet theater. And his whole life was like a spontaneous, lively and inspired journey.