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The Extraordinary Exhibition beyond Georgia: What’s Common between Kutaisian Picasso Boy and Singaporean Next Generation Sculptures?

Published: November 5, 2012 | 9:10 am
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“This is the type of boy Picasso Paints,”- says a movie character in The Extraordinary Exhibition, an old Georgian film directed by Eldar Shengelaia. The movie scene of the boy jumping from the White Bridge in Georgia’s western part Kutaisi, remains an unforgettable episode for Georgians. Thanks to a Georgian painter Merab Kajaia (nicknamed Picasso) the boy’s sculpture from the movie is now one of the top sightseeings in the renovated Kutaisi.

The type of boy the renowned Spanish painter is known for appears to be an inspiration for foreign sculptors as well. Common features about the Kutaisian Picasso boy and the First Generation Sculpture is obvious from the very first look.

Both, Georgian and Singaporean artists say there’s no direct linkage between their sculptures.

According to Kajaia, the author of the idea, during the renovation works, Kutaisi Mayor Giga Chologaze asked him to implement the Picasso Boy project.

“Kutaisi Mayor asked me to make this sculpture. I wanted to create several items according to The Extraordinary Exhibition movie. However, because of the limited financing, the project was accomplished only partially, without the two other sculptors,” Kajaia told The COMMERCIAL TIMES.

The sculptor of the Picasso Boy sculpture is Temur Pkhakadze. Like Kajaia, Georgians sculptor also denies any linkage with similar type sculptures seen in other parts of the world. In his words, it took him around a month to make the Picasso Boy sculpture in 2006.

Kutaisian Picasso Boy cost GEL 11 thousand. Both Kajaia and Pkhakadze say they did it for free.

White Bridge sculpture is from the series Kutaisian Stories by Merab Kajaia. The Extraordinary Exhibition has been an inspiration for him for creating Kutaisian Picasso Boy sculpture, the painter says.

“As a child, when I was returning home from school, I used to see boys jumping from the White Bridge. It was a brave deed by then and not everyone dared to jump because it was not easy. By this sculpture I was intended to make this Kutaisian story immortal,” Kajaia noted.

The fact that Georgian painter travelled in Netherlands before creating the Kutaisian Picasso Boy sculpture might have influenced his idea.

“I left for Netherlands in 1993 where I saw such sculptures and liked them a lot,” he said.

Playful boy sculptures can be seen in many European countries as well as in other parts of the world: Odesa, Leningrad, Jerusalem, Minks, Kiev, Prague, Beijing, etc. Each of them has its own story.

Jumping Boys Sculpture along Singapore River reflects the early life of the riverside inhabitants.

“The First Generation sculpture was done in 2000. It is hard to say how long it took me to make it. One way is to explain to you that I had the idea to make a sculpture like that for many years and worked on a small model of it at first. Then when I was commissioned to make it, the actual time it took from the time of commissioning to when it was finally installed was about 6 months,” Chong Fahcheong, the sculptor from Singapore, told The COMMERCIAL TIMES.

According to Chong, similar sculptures he’s made for Canada: “I have another sculpture of three children playing on some rocks in the water. The sculpture is called Romp. It is in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.”

As the Singaporean sculptor says, he’s seen the pictures of the Kutaisian Picasso Boy sculpture and liked it.  “The images I saw were of the boy in Kutaisi. I like it very much. I love the feeling of lightness of being that it has. There is a playfulness about it. There is a sense of abandonment in the way he has his hands outstretched and holding those hats.”

Despite the long distance and different stories, the Kutaisian Picasso Boy and the First Generation sculpture looks related at first sight. This external likeness is the only common feature about the sculptures though.







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