Many of the churches are decorated with frescos, which are largely based on Byzantine traditions. In the Great Iconoclasm of 726-843, u ntil the mid-9th century, the church discouraged the painting of human images that resulted in destroying the religious art, except cross and symbolic birds and plants. However, Byzantine art entered the Golden Age, named after the ruling Macedonian dynasty. It was the period when the development of the cruciform church matched with the prosperity of fresco and mosaic art.
Presently, this is organized thematically with Christ Pantocrater (Lord of All) in the central dome, the Virgin in the apse over the altar, and the Life of Christ and the saints painted elsewhere.
According to Greek traditions the figures portrayed in religious art were strongly modeled but unemotional, with a calm dignity and stern grandeur. However, Georgia was also marked by free and more humanistic tradition of Antioch and Alexandria , in which figures were more naturalistic and with concern for their emotional impact. There are few mosaics in Georgia , but fresco art reached its peak between the 11th century and the first half of the 13th.
The best frescos are those, preserved in the churches of Ateni Sioni, Kintsvisi, Timotesubani and Ubisi; in the cave monasteries of Bertubani and Udabno (at David-Gareja) and Vardzia, as well as in Svaneti; The sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade was closely followed in Georgia by the Mongol invasions, bringing the end to the high period of Georgian religious art. However, in the secular sphere (illuminated manuscripts, for instance), Persian influence later led to much fine work in Georgia .
Among the Georgian best-known paintings, there are works of Pirosmani, a self-taught artist with his charming and naive style. Many of his works are exhibited in Paris . Nikoloz Pirosmanishvili was born in 1862, left orphan, moved to Tbilisi and lived in a basement of a house. After his death he became well- known artist in Georgia as well as abroad. Till now only about 200 masterpieces survived out of 2,000 Pirosmanis paintings;
Ellene Akhvlediani (1898-1975), born in Telavi, after graduating Tbilisi Art Academy in 1922, spent two years in Italy, exhibited in the Salon des Independents , Paris.
After a long and varied career of a painter, she became a Public Artist of Georgia in 1960 and was awarded a Rustaveli Prize in 1971.
Wide range of styles in her paintings, expressing the traditional life of Georgia , became very popular.
David Kakabadze, born in peasant family near Kutaisi in 1889, studied science in St Petersburg . He started his artistic career in Paris in 1920. Since 1927 he worked in Tbilisi until his death in 1952. Artist is famous for his invention of Abstract style in Georgia .
Lado Gudiashvili, born in 1896, lived in Paris from 1920 to 1925. Artist died in 1980 leaving a lot of distinguished paintings and ironic graphics.
Among the 20 th century artists should be mentioned: Kikodze, Zura Bandzeladze and Parjiani, who managed to create and implement new ideas in the Georgian art.
Traditionally large figurative sculpture was not acceptable for Georgian Christian Orthodox Church. However, super artistry was produced by Georgian sculptors during the centuries in stone carving. Carving techniques developed together with metal working from the very beginning of 5 th century. Contact with the Roman and Hellenistic, later with Persian influences was shaped and molded in Georgian original style. Interesting elements of Sculpture appear during incorporation of Christian elements with Pagan motifs. (Mixture of pagan and Christian motifs on reliefs of Svetitskhoveli, Bolnisi Sioni)
Monumental sculpture is a feature of Georgia s 20 th century artistic scenery.
Artist Elgudja Amashukeli, is famous for the well known sculptures “ Mother of Georgia” Tbilisi 1958-63, King ”Vakhtang Gorgasali” Tbilisi, 1967, Pirosmani Tbilisi, 1975, and “King David the Builder”, 1995. His creations bear peculiarities of stylized monumental art.
Merab Merabishvili, well known for: the sculptures of Griboedov, 1961; poets Galaktion Tabidze and David Guramishvili 1966, Tbilisi; statue of a famous conductor Zakaria Paliashvili 1973, near opera house in Tbiisi, King David the Builder near the Hotel Iveria, Tbilisi, 1997.
Zurab Tsereteli is well known in Moscow – for his freakish iron reanimations of Russian folk tales and an enormous “Peter the Great”.
Film industry, based on “Gruzia film” studios successfully developed during 1928 - 1935. Well – known representatives Sandro Akhmeteli and Kote Marjanishvili were killed by Stalin in the 1930s; Sergei Paradjanov was born in Armenian family in Tbilisi . H e made quintessentially Georgian films such as The Surami Fortres., The successful biopic Pirosmani was directed by Eldar Shengelaia, son of the director Nikoloz Shengelaia and the actress Nato Vachnadze. The most successful Georgian film of recent years is Repentance (Monanieba; directed by Tenghiz Abuladze in 1986), about a dictator who was a thinly veiled composite of Stalin and Beria; The director Nana Jorjadze was nominated for Oscar for Chef in Love (with the French comic star Pierre Richard) in 1996 and was elected as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the same time, Temur Babluani's The Sun of the Sleepless, won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.
The oldest Georgian written works date back to the 4 th century AD and all evidences strongly indicate that the written Georgian language existed even before Georgia adopted Christianity as its official religion. Christianity served as a powerful incentive for developing Georgian literature. Jakob Tsurtaveli wrote The “Martyrdom of Saint Shushanik”, in 470, an original hagiographic work, demonstrating high literary standards of a pre-Christian writing tradition. Georgian literature had an exclusively religious character over the next six centuries.
The classical period of Georgian medieval literature started in 12 th c. Amiran - Darejani written by Mose Khoneli, is an adventure of a hero Amirani surrounded with folk tales.
At that time secular literature shared similarities with Moslem literature. Tales written in Persia were recast in Georgian- Shahname by Firdausi and Vis o ramin by Gurgani.
Author of the National epic poem “The Knight in the Panther's Skin” Shota Rustaveli belonged to the kings court writers who dedicated his work to Queen Tamar. This is “a fine allegorical poem of great breadth of vision, harmoniously fusing the currents of neo-Platonist philosophy and eastern romance”. It foreshadows the literature of courtly (Platonic) love of the European Renaissance. Poem was translated into English after World War I by Marjory Wardrobe, whose brother was Britain 's Chief Commissioner of Trans Caucasus.
National renewal began after Tamer Lane s death in the beginning of 15 th century. Georgian literature had a close touch with Moslem oriental verse. The King Teimuraz recast many Persian poems into Georgian himself. In the first half of 18 th c. King Vakhtang was a poet himself and edited many historical works and lows – The “Code of Vakhtang”. He was responsible for printing the first books in Georgian in 1709;
19th century was rich with romantic poets, led by Alexander Chavchavadze, founder of literary school of Georgian romanticism, Grigol Orbeliani, longed for Georgian independence, idealizing vision of past glory of Georgia . Nikoloz Baratashvili dreamt for liberty and glory of motherland.
By end of 19 th and beginning of 20 thcentury Ilia chavchavadze and his associates revised the reality in Georgian literature, criticizing passive life of the Georgian noblemen and population; fighting against reification national features and heritage of Georgia . Georgian people consider Ilia Chavchavadze as a father of Nation. He was killed by Russian agents for his active life.
We should remember the most respected and beloved Georgian poets Vazha Pshavela, and Akaki Tsereteli; The representatives of the period of literary innovations, a part of symbolist movement that started in 20ies of the 20th century, were Paolo Iashvili, Kolau Nadiradze, Titian Tabidze, Valerian Gaprindashvili. Among the most popular 20th-century poets are symbolists Galaktion Tabidze, (Georgian Bodler ) ; Lado Asatiani beloved for his sensible and lyric style, Ana Kalandadze and others.