From Georgian Urban Stories…
Dr. Love (born in 1985 as Bacha Khoperia) started to work with stencil art in 2010. Over the years he has become increasingly popular, with murals popping up all over Tbilisi. He mostly creates multi-layer, color graffi ti and textual murals based on pop-cultural references of humor or of a critical context. Most of his graffi ti paintings can be found in Georgia’s capital, but he is also the author of the biggest graffi ti located in Batumi, Adjara (“Selfi e”). Apart from being a graffi ti artist, he is also a programmer and musician.
Dr. Love participated in “Upfest,” Europe’s largest street art festival in the United Kingdom earlier this year, where his graffi ti was highly praised and currently occupies a wall in Bristol. A number of online art pages have named his mural on the subject of air pollution in its top 10 list of extremely creative street art.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON STREET ART WHICH IS KIND OF AN “EXOTIC FRUIT” FOR GEORGIA EVEN NOW?
This culture is still odd for Georgia and local society is not actively involved in it, so that was what influenced me to choose this direction; to make some changes and express myself in this urban culture which is comfortable and familiar to me.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST WHEN CHOOSING A THEME?
I have no concrete formula; I might react to an active theme or issue, or, on the contrary, I might go beyond and do something totally different.
HAVE ANY SPECIFIC ARTISTS INFLUENCED YOU?
No-one specifi c. There are people who are influenced by their favorite artists or musicians and there are people who try to avoid any influences and are kind of locked away from it all. I, myself, always try to find something new, to expand my knowledge and, consequently, these searches for information influence me, but the main thing is not to lose individuality and to take advantage of various sources of information.
HAVE YOU COME ACROSS ANY PROBLEMS WHILE WORKING OUTSIDE, ANY SORT OF “WHY ARE YOU DAMAGING A WALL, BRO…?”
Yes, it’s happened several times, but not the police, just ordinary passersby or local residents. They react differently, you never know… It happens not only in Georgia, but even in other countries where street art is much more popular.
Tell us about your western experience. Your painted wall in Bristol was a huge success. How do you remember that trip?
Street art is primary linked with travelling and each voyage can give lots of information, experience and inspiration. I remember my British trip as a positive experience. Upfest is the largest urban festival in Europe, featuring approximately 300 artists, and it was a brilliant chance to be part of it and of course, I’m really happy my work was distinguished among the graffi ti of other renowned urban artists.
What’s ahead for Dr.Love? Do you plan any interesting projects in Georgia or internationally?
Yes, there are some projects ahead and we already started to implement them. We’re about to open the fi rst graffi ti shop and studio “Fabrikaffi ti” where artists can buy colors and other materials, create their artworks in the studio, display them for sale, or organize exhibitions. Also, we arranged the fi rst graffi ti festival “Fabrikaffi ti 2016” this year, featuring 40 artists. I hope this number will go up next year and bring together both local and international artists.
How do you see yourself in 20 years, again outside near a mural?
Why not? But 20 years is quite a way away. We all remember the situation in Georgia 20 years ago, and today we are opening new art spaces and galleries. I’m sure after 20 years our country will be ahead, but of course, everything is up to us.
From your perspective, what are those must-see places that should be visited by guests to Georgia?
I would recommend they visit those places which have maintained authenticity and lack artifi cial elements for attracting tourists. Luckily, we have a number of such true places throughout Georgia. In Tbilisi, I would advise to our guests to visit “Fabrika” (a contemporary art space).
What could be a soundtrack for our city?
I have no concrete association, but I think white noise would perfectly fi t Tbilisi today.
In which color would you dye Tbilisi?
I would make it green (with the direct understanding of this word).