Edited by Anna Popper

To commemorate the Independence Day of Georgia, observed on 26 May annually, the Embassy of Georgia in Budapest hosted an official gala reception in the magnificent Pesti Vigadó on the banks of the Danube.

The official occasion also featured a unique exhibition entitled “A Woman Artist – the Face of the Era”, showcasing notable Georgian women artists and was on display in Hungary for the first time.

The event was attended by Hungarian officials, including Ms Boglárka Bólya, Ministerial Commissioner of the Ministry for EU Affairs, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives from the business and cultural sectors, the Georgian community and friends of the country, being part of the Caucasus region.

After welcoming the audience and the Guest of HonourMr. Lőrinc Nacsa, MP, Head of the Hungary-Georgia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Hungarian National Assembly, in her opening remarks, H.E. Tamara Liluashvili, Ambassador of Georgia to Hungary highlighted the significance of Georgia’s special day dedicated to freedom, celebrating its history and independence:

“I am delighted to welcome you at the celebration of the special day that holds a great significance in the history of Georgia.

Georgia, a land of contrasts, at the crossroads of East and West, part of the ancient Silk Road, nestled in the high mountains of the Caucasus, world-famous for its hospitality and welcoming culture, we mark the 106th anniversary of the declaration of the first independent democratic republic of Georgia and the 33rd anniversary of the restoration of its independence from Soviet rule. This is the occasion when the entire nation of Georgia comes together to celebrate the freedom and sovereignty of our country. Exactly 33 years ago, Georgia embarked on its journey of pursuing a pro-Western, European path.

“I am Georgian and therefore I am European.” (Je suis Géorgien, donc Européen.) – these words were spoken by the late Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, in front of the Council of Europe in 1999.

Since the 1990s, Georgia has been striving for closer ties with the EU, dreaming of obtaining candidate status and eventually becoming an EU member. Europe and the European Union are a historic choice for Georgia and, even more, the Government has reinforced Georgia’s choice to be part of EU family by incorporating it into our Constitution, thus making obligatory for each and every political force in the country to follow the will of Nation, to be part of the Euro-Atlantic family. While we have achieved much over the past decades, we must also recognize the challenges that lie ahead. Given the current turmoil in Georgia’s political life, let me reassure you all that Georgia will do its utmost and work tirelessly to make the dream of multiple generations, my dream, and the dream of my children to be a dignified member of the European family come true and to strengthen the Union by contributing to its diversity.

Today, Hungary and Georgia stand united in the most challenging times, with shared Christian values always putting nation’s interests paramount of all! In recent years, we have seen the relations between our countries reach exemplary level with Hungary’s strong stance for Georgia’s EU accession and support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We wish Hungary best of luck as it embarks on a very important task, assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July 2024.

I convey my sincere gratitude to our partners and thank you all once again for sharing this special day with us when we celebrate the Georgian nation, its vitality and thirst for freedom.”

Addressing the audience, Mr. Lőrinc Nacsa, MP, Head of the Hungary-Georgia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Hungarian National Assembly, emphasized the shared values and strong ties between the two nations and reiterated Hungary’s unwavering support for Georgia’s aspirations to join the European Union.

The speeches concluded with a heartfelt toast: To the Independence Day of Georgia with its timeless spirit of art, friendship and prosperity! Long Live Georgia, long Live Hungary!

During the celebration, the guests were delighted by Georgian and Hungarian songs performed by the renowned Saint Ephraim Male Choir from Hungary. The choir recently gave guest performances of pieces from its extensive repertoire in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, which is also known as Sakartvelo in Georgian language.

Georgian Exhibition at Pesti Vigadó: “A Woman Artist – the Face of the Era”

Built in the 19th century in the Romantic style, Pesti Vigadó is a remarkable architectural landmark of Budapest. It has become a premier venue for the city’s cultural and social events, such as concerts, exhibitions, conferences, balls and social gatherings.

Over the years, it has hosted a wide array of musicians, orchestras, performers and composers, including Ferenc Liszt, Béla Bartók, Johannes Brahms, Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. Pesti Vigadó continues to uphold its esteemed status and plays a pivotal role in Budapest’s vibrant cultural landscape.

This prestigious cultural institution has been chosen as the venue for a significant Georgian exhibition showcasing the diverse works of six Georgian female artists from the 20th and 21st centuries, spanning a 100-year period (1924–2024). On display are pieces by four generations of artists: Helene Akhvlediani, Ketevan Maghalashvili, Tamara Abakelia, Esma Oniani, Lia Shvelidze, and Sopho Cherkezishvili.

The exhibition highlights the rich and diverse heritage of Georgian women artists who have created fascinating art that bridges Georgia and Europe. From impressionism to socialist realism, fromexpressionism to feminist art showing the main trends of modern and postmodern eras.

The concept of the exhibition revolved around two main themes:

Woman: A Symbol of Modernization – This theme focuses primarily on the first half of the 20th century and features artists who were pioneers of emancipation. The pieces under this theme allow the audience to explore the transformative role these artists played in their society.

Woman as the Main Motive in Art – Contemporary women artists explore the postmodern woman’s inner self, loneliness, fragility, and desire for independence. These works delve into the nuanced experiences and perspectives of modern women.

All artistic trends and movements that emerged in Georgia demonstrate a strong alignment between Georgian and European cultures, despite the isolation of the Soviet era and the challenges of the young nation’s self-identity.

This first exhibition of its kind in Hungary was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Georgia in collaboration with the Georgian Embassy, the Hungarian Academy of Arts (MMA) and Pesti Vigadó. The majority of the exhibits come from the Georgian National Museum of Art and the Georgian National Gallery’s collections, as well as from the artists’ personal collections. This collaborative effort showcases the immense talent of Georgian women artists and their significant contributions to the field of art. The exhibition not only honours the artistic achievements of Georgian women, but also bridges the cultural and artistic exchanges between Georgia and Hungary. It is a testament to the enduring legacy and vibrant future of Georgian art.

While viewing the artworks displayed in two spacious halls, the attendees enjoyed musical pieces by world-renowned classical and Georgian composers performed by a trio of talented young musicians from Georgia and Hungary, graduates of the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

During the reception, a variety of Georgian wines and specialities were served, adding a festive atmosphere to the celebration.

Source: Embassy of Georgia in Budapest

Photos by the Embassy of Georgia in Budapest, and DPA