Niko Pirosmani

Born: 1862, Mirzaani (Georgia)
Died: 1918, Tiflis

Primitive painter. Born Nikolai Pirosmanishvili in the Georgian village of Mirzaani (1862). Moved to Tiflis (1870) after the death of his parents and worked as a servant in wealthy houses (from 1872). Returned to Mirzaani and worked as a herdsman (1876). Studied printing for several months and learnt to paint from the travelling artists who decorated shop signboards and the walls of taverns. Opened his own workshop in Tiflis, but was not successful (1882). Worked as a conductor on the Transcaucasian Railway (1890–94) and painted signboards and murals for small traders, often accepting payment in coal, food or wine (from 1895). Discovered by Kirill Zdanevich, Ilya Zdanevich and Mikhail Le-Dantiu (1912), who held the first shows of his works in Moscow, St Petersburg and Paris (1912). Contributed to the Target exhibition in Moscow (1913) and invited to join the Society of Georgian Artists (1916). Died of malnutrition and liver disease (1918). One-man shows in Tiflis/Tbilisi (1916, 1927, 1938, 2010), Moscow (1930, 1986, 2008), Kiev (1931), Odessa (1931) and Kharkiv (1931).

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