Kirill Zdanevich

“Argonauts’ Boat” – Interior Mural Fragment, 1918
Art Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory

“I would highlight two creative events in my biography of the Menshevist times: The first – the painting of the club/restaurant “Argonauts’ Boat,” which was done in the style of Matisse and Van Dongen . . . beautifully and colorfully.”

Kirill Zdanevich in I – Reminisce

The artistic cafe and theater-studio “Argonauts’ Boat” was opened in the fall of 1918 in the basement of the building located at 16 Rustaveli Avenue, formerly called ‘Kruzhok’ (the circle), now known as ‘Officers’ House.’ Its walls were painted by Kirill Zdanevich, Lado Gudiashvili, and Alexander Bazhbeuk-Melikov.

“Argonauts’ Boat,” like other art cafes in Tbilisi, is a fantastic chronotope of the “Fantastic Tbilisi,” not only because of the characteristics and quality of the art that existed in and on its walls, but also as an event, as a whole phenomenon.

My colleagues and I first entered the space of the Argonauts’ Boat in 1999 . . . We found a neglected basement filled with large tanks, used as a warehouse for years and then as a boiler room . . . The wall paintings of “Argonauts’ Boat” were considered lost until that time, or should have been considered so by the Soviet policy of culture . . . During the renovation work that was carried out by the private owners of the basement in 1999-2000, the walls were scraped down and most of the paintings were destroyed. Then, at about 20 sq. ft. of the wall’s area, only a part of Kirill Zdanevich’s painting survived, which was already heavily damaged. After many attempts over the years to plan the restoration of the painting, it was in March 2018 that it suddenly became clear that the painting no longer existed.

Kirill Zdanevich’s  “Argonauts’ Boat” can only be observed through photographs now and only by assumptions, on a not-too-limited verge of existence and imaginary simulation.

 – Thea Tabatadze. An excerpt from the text-“The Theater-Studio Argonauts’ Boat and Argonautica of Kirill Zdanგevich.”