Shalva Nikvashvili uses masks to explore questions of identity. Made of untraditional materials, his works are as striking as they are thought-provoking, calling to mind questions about what it means to be your true authentic self, if there even is such a thing.
Raised in a traditional Georgian family, Nikvashvili used his art to express himself, not by running away from his difficulties, but by facing them head-on. Now based in Belgium, he continues to channel his creativity through his original masks.
“I have always been hunting human emotions to catch them, mine or from others and then to shape them and transform to my work,” he told Hunger Magazine. “After trying lots of different medias I discovered that making masks was something I have never tried before but I have been always interested in. I love the idea that when I delete my real face and put a mask on, the mask talks, not me. It gives me the confidence to say whatever I want and touch any topic I want.”
“I was born after the Soviet Union collapsed,” he notes. “It was a very hard time. I remember hunger, no electricity and very dark days, those days shaped my identity, it’s funny to say but I’m glad I have seen lots of struggles because it made me who I am now.”
His advice to other struggling creatives? “Work every day, believe in yourself no matter what others say! Because others have their own problems unsolved, so don’t listen to anyone just keep believing and working on yourself.”