A blossoming creative with a fascinating perspective on life and art and the relationship between them, Georgia-based Tamo Jugeli lets the guard down and reveals all. Since accidentally stumbling across this new-found freedom when a paintbrush is in hand, she hasn’t put one down since. Tamo’s work is bold and emotional, curious and unique, and there is a lot of it. No creation is ever planned or strategized but spontaneously composed onto a canvas at hand. Unknown to the outcome and lost within the canvas, Tamo says, “My hand and my brain just connect and find freedom in creating exactly what they feel.”
For our readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what captivated you to start creating your own artwork?
My name is Tamo Jugeli. I am an artist from Tbilisi (Georgia), a small country in Eastern Europe. Internally, I am not quite sure what specifically captivated me to start creating my artwork. It was sudden and unexpected. I had never painted or drawn before and, to be honest, it never interested me either. It was kind of always there and I was just away from it. Suddenly, at twenty-two, I started painting. In both an emotionally and mentally state, I took a pen and started drawing.
Additionally, I felt like no place was right for me in everyday life. I kind of didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. My job at the time didn't bring me pleasure, quite the opposite. I can proudly say that I was drowning and losing myself more and more. Based on my nature, if I occupy myself with something that I don't appreciate doing, it affects me in every wrong way. All this probably slowly collected inside of me and came out in the form of art.
As you mentioned, you started drawing at the age of twenty-two. Although your work (in a great way) seems to be quite unsystematic, you definitely have an identity as an artist. Have you always worked in this style or has this been developed over time?
When I started drawing, I didn't take it seriously at all. It was something I did in my free time and it served as a relaxation method after a draining day. It could also be considered as a small therapy I created for myself. My art started progressing extremely quickly and transformed itself into my everyday life. In no time, I realized that my drawings were much more than just something I did after work and weren't just me having fun late at night. I really don't believe I have only one style. Similarly, I believe that throwing yourself into one specific style is not good for an artist. I create art, yet try as hard as I can to not be repetitive and put different feelings and emotions into every piece I create.
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All artists have diverse ways to approach their work. Some are forward thinkers, planners, they know exactly what colour will go on that particular spot of the canvas before they’ve even bought the paint. Others may find themselves drawing a circle not knowing it’s about to turn into an octopus. From start to finish, how do you work?
My manner of painting is highly impulsive. I never create sketches neither do I ever know what I am going to paint. I never know what the outcome is going to be. Never. The process slides smoothly and I pay absolutely no attention to what I am exactly doing. My hand and my brain connect and find freedom in creating exactly what they feel. Additionally, I can’t keep creating art for more than one day. Thus, every piece is made in one day at most, no matter the size and the complexity. If a painting is large, I go on until I am done with no breaks. I just keep going and only break free when my inner self is fully released.
Your Instagram bio features one word: grotesque. Can you explain the meaning behind this, and would you say this is a theme within your work?
There is no hidden or deeper meaning behind this word. I hold exactly the definition it originally has. From my perspective, the world is grotesque and I do not mean anything negative by this.
I’ve noticed that a lot of your work holds quite dark connotations and themes of disorder, and I’d be interested in knowing more about the emotion behind your drawings. Do you have a particular drawing that you could talk about that takes you back to an emotional state?
I don’t want to separate my paintings and talk about one in particular over the rest. Each one is similarly special for me and significantly important since they all hold magnificent energy, ideas, thoughts and emotions that I have put in them. To be quite honest, at this moment, my least favourite thing to do is talk about my works.
I also don't like the tendency that everything should have a concept. Art should be felt, not just explained. I want people to see and feel whatever they want to see and feel. For me, people’s subjective opinions about my artworks are much more interesting than me talking about what I have painted.
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You mentioned that your work is spontaneous and impulsive. Do you, therefore, find that your mood and surroundings reflect heavily on the outcome of your work, and what would be the ideal atmosphere to create in?
My emotions and my surroundings definitely influence my artwork. In terms of an ideal location, it would be a studio, either alone or only with my closest people. However, strangers or people I don’t know at all are not a problem. In May, I took part in an art project at Art Villa Garikula, in Georgia, where nobody knew each other and every person was a new addition to my life. We used to work on our art at a studio together and none of this has influenced my art pieces in any negative way. When I stand in front of a canvas, I don’t care about anything and nothing can distract me from getting into the zone and creating.
Emotionally, physically, creatively… answer as you wish. Who are your biggest inspirations in life? And how much impact do you think they have had on your creative choices?
The biggest inspiration of mine is Herman Hesse. Currently, he is the number one writer for me. He has inspired me in many different ways, connected me with my inner self and, therefore, let it out. In terms of creative inspiration, I honestly can’t name anyone specifically. There are many different aspects that subconsciously influence me. Thus, unfortunately, I can’t separate anything specific.
As a young and emerging artist, you have an exciting future ahead of you! Where do you ideally see yourself in the future of the creative industry?
The most important aspect for me is the ability to draw, have a supporting atmosphere and resources to create freely. Of course, I do want fame too. I want people to know, see and connect with my art more. I myself get fulfilled by other people’s art. They fill me up and, in many situations, either calm me down or contrarily bring up worrying emotions inside of me. I similarly want more people to explore my art and connect to it emotionally. This is truly my goal when it comes to my art and the audience. Nothing is better than the feeling of connection through art – any form of art –, without the necessity to directly speak to the person.
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