The Knight in the Panther’s Skin
Since childhood, my desire was to create paintings that portray my insight and imagination. The moment I opened a book and read the very first sentence, the decorative, colorful images were ingrained in my thoughts and allowed me to travel through centuries and around the globe to explore the wonders of the world. My interpretation and visual explanation of a text seemed to form a concept that clarified and illuminated the story. Inventing such narratives with imaginative realms and characters has been my motivation to create illustrations.
The body of work holds a series of illustrations from “Vepxistkaosani,” translated as: “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin,” written by Shota Rustaveli in 12th century Georgia. Rustaveli was born between 1160 and 1165. According to the Legend, he was educated at the medieval academies of Gelati and Ikalto located in the Georgian region, and later, he advanced his education in Greece (i.e., Byzantine Empire). He was also well acquainted with the Persian literature and appreciated its poetry. The Legend states that Shota Rustaveli graced Queen Tamar’s s court as the minister of Finance and resigned to the monastery at an advanced age. The fresco of the Shota Rustaveli was painted in the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem and is accompanied by a Georgian-language inscription. “Vepxistkaosani” allows us to travel to distant lands and civilizations of Persia, India, Arabia, and China. It is the colorful allegory of the Medieval Golden Age of the rule of Queen Tamar. Through graphic illustrations, visitors have the chance to follow the developing friendship of two heroes, Avtandil and Tariel, on their quest to find the object of Tariel’s love, Princess Nestan-Darejan. The heroes of the Medieval times are united by love, friendship, bravery, generosity, sincerity, and dedication. The poem is characterized as an example of the hymn of human nature, which resembles equality and the struggle for freedom.
I am intrigued and inspired by the blend of Medieval history with the modern vision of today. The idea of transforming Rustaveli’s personal experience, creativity, and his cultural and intellectual attitude that formed Vepxistkaosani was mesmerizing for me to paint this series of illustrations. Composing unseen medieval customs, unvisited landscapes, an exotic architecture, and meeting new characters gave me the freedom to express my thoughts and views lavishly. My work is direct, fun, educational, and relatable. As an artist, I was remarkably intrigued for a quest of representation that conveyed the poem’s defining statement and meaning and I was excited to transform a traditional poem into a modern illustration, retaining the manner of the execution that suited my personality and working style.