Tamuna Sirbiladze

Sirbiladze was born in Tbilisi in Georgia. She studied art at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts (1989–1994) in Georgia and later the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1997–2003) and Slade School of Fine Art, London, 2003. She was the widow of fellow artist Franz West (1947–2012) and collaborated with West on a number of projects.

Sirbiladze’s background influenced her approach to painting: “Sirbiladze was exposed to art mostly through books‍—‌her home country had few museums. She knew early on that she wanted to be an artist, however, and cited the colors of the art she came across as the reason she ended up painting.” She told Forbes in a 2015 interview, “Searching for light and color is my main engagement”.

Sirbiladze made paintings known for their speed, and she sometimes incorporated text into her work. Her characteristic style merged the figurative and the gestural. Her paintings have been described as “highly expressive” with splashes of color “forming abstracted figures and patterns.” An Art in America review, a year before her death at age 45, remarks on the “energetic content” of her work, saying “Sirbiladze’s line is spare; abundant, creamy negative space supports the gentle diagonal flow of marks” anchored by unexpected forms. Critic Alex Greenberger said, “Sirbiladze’s paintings played with the division between figuration and abstraction, often melding the two in ambiguous images. Genitalia and bodies can be glanced in some, while in others, objects like jugs and fruits seem to materialize. Sirbiladze’s paintings recall the work of Henri Matisse and the Impressionists in their light, expressive brushwork.”