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Ruso Margishvili is a New york-based architect and an illustrator. While observing Ruso’s work, you feel that there is something special about her. Subway scenes, childhood memories, exaggerated titles, interesting characters, daily routines of people, melancholic dreams, and the constant intersection of imagination and reality are what make Ruso’s art fascinating.
Who is Ruso Margishvili?
I am an architect. I belong to the 3rd generation of architects in my family, and I guess this kind of shaped the influence in my professional choice. When I was young, my grandpa used to bring architectural drawings home for me to use as a scrap paper and draw underside, but I liked drawing in the plans. I would draw tiny furniture and little scenarios in the apartments – later on I decided to just go with this profession. Today I work in New York, in a small firm in Brooklyn, with people I really love. I work hard during the week, and when I come home tired, drawing is something that helps me relax – it’s more like a meditation form to me. Drawing helps me express myself in a very personal way.
What role does architecture play in your art?
I guess a quite significant one. In terms of describing spaces, my drawings are not necessarily very spacious, but I have a few where I show the details and tell the stories of the space, showing different activities happening in it. Also, discussions that take place at the architecture firm I work in influence my drawings. I don’t have many pieces involving architecture, but I like to experiment on that as well.
Which drawings are most related to you?
Most of my drawings are very personal. They all tell stories about people around me or myself. I try to take things from everyday life, like phrases, which I afterwards exaggerate so as to give an interesting twist to the stories. Even if I draw something that is very personal, people can still take it their own way and interpret it however they like. The titles I give to my drawings are very specific but could also be generic. I have a few drawings probably from subway series that I am more attached to, because they put my head in a different place than where I actually was inspired. People I’m showing with the drawings, who are just random for others, remind me of the characters that make me smile or kind of put me back in time.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I have this drawing called Fireflies in Ivy Garden where a girl is standing with a jar of fireflies. This drawing is particular for me – it reminds me of my grandfather, who used to have a strange field in his backyard, fully covered with ivy. In July everything would be filled with fireflies so I’d go and pick them. This is a very precious memory and I decided to depict it. This drawing is very personal, as I feel a lot of affection for my grandpa. Overall I try not to give graphic shapes to memories, because then it kind of reshapes the way you think about your past.
What influences you?
I am mostly influenced by writings. I like to read fiction, and fictional writers like Dave Eggers –who has a really dark but beautiful writing style–, Milan Kundera, Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Mikhail Bulgakov influence me. Mysticism attracts me.
Where do your fictional characters come from?
To me, they are not fictional at all. They are real people around me whether or not they realize it. They could be total strangers, but I draw them as if there was something particular about them, something unusual I wanted to exaggerate and transform until it looked fictional. In the end, all of them are real to me, since the characters I draw are my friends, my neighbors, my coworkers, and people I meet in the subway every morning.
Does New York inspire your work?
New York is a huge source of inspiration. It is like a never-ending well you keep taking inspiration out of – like in those stories where a magician cooks some porridge that keeps refilling itself. You can imagine how many types of people live in the city, and how many different scenes you can see here every day. There are lots of unusual and crazy characters; madness is all over, so if you keep your eyes open you will sense that magic is in the air. New York brings out the most extreme side in whoever moves here – that is what I like the most about this city.
Are you currently working on any projects?
I have been working on two projects that I have been putting off. The one I started drawing 3 years ago is kind of a graphic novel-slash-memoir taking place in my childhood, but then at one point I stopped in search for a better way to express it. The other one is an experimental collaboration with my friend Hernan Castelli, an illustrator and a 3D artist from Argentina with whom I decided to buy two similar sketchbooks, where he would draw something and I would draw something opposite, but things didn’t necessarily connect. These are the projects I have been keeping on a shelf for years, in hopes that I will get on with them someday (laughs).
Are you planning on putting on an exhibition anytime soon?
Initially, when I started drawing it was more for meditation purposes – then it kind of grew into something larger. My friend Hernan and I are thinking about working on a shared exhibition in New York. I have also thought about putting on an exhibition in my country –Georgia–, but I’m always short on time when I go back there, so I have to plan it in advance.

Nino Gabisonia

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