Tamuna Sirbiladze

Not Cool but Compelling

The first institutional solo exhibition featuring the art of Tamuna Sirbiladze (1971–2016) will encompass painting, drawing, and installation. Born in Tbilisi, Sirbiladze developed her signature style in Vienna, distinguished by its highly expressive approach and anthropomorphic visual language.

Recurring themes in Sirbiladze’s paintings include the human body, sexuality, and vulnerability, which she initially captured in a boldly figurative manner using a consummate formal vocabulary before increasingly turning to abstraction. Already at an early stage, an unsparing, sometimes even graphic, quality emerged in the depictions of these subjects, all the while incorporating the artist’s self-scrutiny (and self-questioning). Her work also demonstrates an intensive engagement with the canon of art and painting, expressed in the meticulous study of iconic works by the Old Masters. Sirbiladze interprets these examples from art history with a sharp eye and a fine, painterly feel. By subjectively accentuating certain attributes, she challenges the connotations of the male image in art history. References to artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and Martin Kippenberger run like a thread through her oeuvre, as do religious images including the recurring motif of the pomegranate: Georgia’s national fruit and a Christian symbol of fertility.

Not Cool but Compelling is the pithy title of a large abstract work from 2011 executed in oil crayon on canvas. It succinctly describes Tamuna Sirbiladze’s enduring concern, namely to give compelling form to her concept of art without being bound by the aesthetic conventions of her time.

Curated by Sergey Harutoonian.
Assistant Curator: Vasilena Stoyanova



In cooperation with



Tamuna Sirbiladze was born on 12 February 1971 in Tbilisi, where she completed a degree in painting at the State Academy of Arts from 1989 to 1994. In 1997 she moved to Vienna. Sirbiladze continued her artistic training until 2003 at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, where she was taught by Franz Graf and Heimo Zobernig, and at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. While studying in Vienna she met Austrian artist Franz West (1947–2012), whom she married in 2002. They collaborated on several art projects until his death in 2012. From 2003 Tamuna Sirbiladze exhibited in national and international solo and group exhibitions, for example at the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg; the Saatchi Gallery, London; Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels; and at Charim Gallery, Vienna. On 2 March 2016, the artist died at the age of forty-five.




Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 1)

Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 2)

Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 3)


Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 4)

Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 5)

Tamuna Sirbiladze. Not Cool but Compelling (Part 6)