Culture Ministry returns paintings from Iranian embassy in Georgia, says 11 more pieces missing since 1990s

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Georgia’s culture ministry said on Tuesday it had returned four paintings by Georgian artists to the country from the Georgian embassy in Iran, and said another 11 pieces were ‘missing’ from a group of works moved outside. of Georgia in the 1990s.

The four works, created by four different artists and moved from the National Gallery in Tbilisi to the embassy in 1995 among 15 pieces, have now been brought back to the site, in the latest development of a controversy that has involved the ministry over the d on the one hand, and the Georgian National Museum on the other over the past few months.

Created by painters Dimitri Khakhutashvili, Shota Lezhava, Zaur Deisadze and Grigol Chirinashvili, the works were presented to journalists during a press briefing where Minister Thea Tsulukiani spoke about the process of returning the paintings.

In a statement on social media, the ministry also referred to places related to the works, saying that neither the GNM network nor the National Gallery asked where the works were until 2012, when Ambassador Giorgi Janjghava started picking them up at the Iranian embassy.

The ministry said 11 other paintings were part of the group moved from Georgia to Iran in 1995 and were wanted. Photo via Georgia Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth

The comments follow debates and controversies over the fate of artworks transferred from Georgian museums to the country’s embassies in the 1990s, with social, economic and political upheavals in Georgia throughout the decade resulting in a lack organized information about their fate. the GNM network was created in 2005 to support the management of the museum’s exhibitions.

The process of returning ministry works to museums and galleries in overseas diplomatic offices began soon after Tsulukiani was appointed in the spring of last year. It was accompanied by mutual accusations between the GNM and part of the public on the one hand, and the ministry on the other.

The former viewed the ministry’s criticism of the fate of the artworks as politically motivated accusations, with the debates part of a larger controversy between Tsulukiani and a section of the country’s cultural professionals since his appointment.

As part of the process, the ministry returned 12 paintings located in its offices at the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery in May 2021; in September, four pieces found in the Czech Republic were also brought back to the latter place; and in November, six works of art were returned by the Russian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

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