I met Gosha Dimitruk at our Gbtimes Georgia office last week. The Moscow transplant had stopped in to discuss his artwork and to detail how he came to call Georgia his home. Since moving to Georgia nearly four years ago, he has left his artistic mark in inconspicuous places around the city –on walls, on the front of shops, signboards, even inside restaurants and cafés. With his set of markers he purchased at a shop near the Rustaveli metro, he sizes up the many places in the city that could use a touch of art and creativity.
When I met Gosha, he struck me as somewhat of an enigma; slightly eccentric but at the same time playful, funny and self-deprecating, not the kind of characteristics one often associates with artists. But then again, Gosha isn’t the prototypical artist, nor is art something that he has pursued all his life. In fact, he doesn’t even call himself an artist, he refers to himself simply as a painter.
Gosha Dimitruk's work can be seen throughout the capital.
“To be a painter is the easiest work. Because if you want to be a painter, you just need to say I’m a painter that’s all,” Gosha tells me matter-of-factly.
When pressed about where he honed his craft, he said that all the activities he is currently involved in – including his painting – happened after he moved to Georgia in 2014.
“The only painting I did before coming to Georgia was the walls of my apartment. I had no art aspirations when I lived in Moscow, I really had no need to make art. Because when you live in Moscow you need sleep, not art,” he mused.
Gosha's art can be seen on the hood of a stove in one of Tbilisi's cafes.
Gosha first visited Georgia as a child when the country was still part of the Soviet Union.
“I fell in love with Georgia when I was a child. I wanted to come back as soon as possible,” he recalls.
But that return visit would have to wait. Gosha didn’t manage to get back to Georgia until 2011. Years later, his affinity for the country he fell in love with as a child was unchanged. He was so impressed with Georgia that he returned each year thereafter, and by 2014, he had decided to leave Moscow altogether and move to Georgia full-time.
“I love Georgia for a variety of reasons – the weather, the lifestyle, cuisine, nature and of course the wine to name just a few. In fact, I would call my first year living in Georgia the ‘Year of Wine’”, he told me with a laugh, alluding to the fact that he did a fair amount of wine-drinking upon his arrival four years ago.
Art by Гоша Димитрюк
Georgia soon became an engine for Gosha’s new-found creativity. Since his arrival, he has added decorative artistic features to structures throughout the city. One of his largest installations is located at 35 Abashidze Street in the Vake district, where with his markers, he created a virtual library of books on the fascia of the CFI building. Gosha’s optimistic art has graced neglected walls, old gates, shop fronts, the interiors of various cafés, a bench and even a ceramic grill. He has also designed a series of ornate, handmade book covers, that are adorned with various features.
Art by Гоша Димитрюк
With regard to his tools of the trade, Gosha is quick to note that he is not a big fan of being chased by the police, so he never uses spray paint in his work.
“When you work with sprays, it makes you look unofficial or like you are doing something illegal. So I use different instruments when I am creating something,” he explains
One of Gosha's ornate, handmade books.
Handmade book by Gosha.
But the former Muscovite’s penchant for painting is not purely aesthetic, there is also an element of utility to his mindset. For example, one day last March, he noticed that the large bicycle overlooking the bridge on Rose Revolution Square was looking a bit dull.
“The paint was fading and was beginning to chip away, probably from the elements and being in the sun for all these years. So I decided it needed a fresh coat of black paint to bring it back to life,” he said.
However, Gosha was unsure of how to go about doing it without getting in trouble with the authorities. That is when he hatched a brilliant plan that would help him avoid drawing unwanted attention to himself. So, he bought a pair of bright orange trousers and a matching orange shirt, donned a pair of black painting goggles and posed as a Tbilisi municipality worker.
It worked to perfection.
“There was a policeman nearby the whole time I was painting the bicycle, but he never said a word to me,” he fondly recants.
Art by Гоша Димитрюк
Through it all, Gosha says he enjoys what he does and he enjoys and appreciates the work of other artists in the city. He cites Misha, Chertov, Tamun, Dr. Love and Gagosh as some of his favorites.
“At the end of the day, I am no different than anyone else, I like to inspire people with my art,” he says.