Lado (Vladimer) Gudiashvili was born on 18 March, 1896, in Tbilisi, Georgia
He started drawing at an early age, at the same time learning music and dancing; this will show itself in due course in his art. At the age of fourteen he went to art college, and then found a job as a teacher of art in a Tbilisi grammar school. Gudiashvili had his first one-man exhibition as early as 1915, immediately making a name for himself in Georgian intellectual and artistic circles.
Gudiashvili’s participation at this time in an archaeological expedition studying various monuments of ancient Georgian architecture had special significance for his artistic development; he made many copies of frescoes in churches, and when his copies were exhibited in Tbilisi in 1919 they delighted the public.
At the end of 1919 Lado Gudiashvili, together with two other talented artists, David Kakabadze and Shalva Kikodze, went to Paris. He lived and worked in France for six years.
His paintings, when they were first exhibited in the Salon d’Automne of 1920, attracted general attention, since the talent of the young Georgian was so unusual to Parisians.
In 1925 a book was published in Paris, written by the famous art critic Maurice Raynal and devoted to Gudiashvili’s work – a significant expression of the professional recognition which the artist had won. This is also testified to by his artistic connections and friendships with such great painters as Picasso, Modigliani, Derain, Léger and Utrillo, and with such writers as Aragon and Breton. Despite all this – his major accomplishments in Paris, the extremely successful exhibitions of his works in other French towns, Bordeaux, Marseilles and Lyons, and later in London, Rome, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York, the purchase of his works by galleries in France, Spain, Holland and Italy, and, finally, the tempting suggestions by art dealers to remain in France like Picasso – Gudiashvili returned to Georgia.
Gudiashvili was an amazingly versatile artist: he produced easel paintings, frescoes and drawings; he worked in ink, water-colours, gouache and mixed media; he illustrated books, produced satirical drawings and stage scenery; he painted historical pictures and portraits, allegorical compositions and decorative panels, and dealt with mythological and political subjects; he turned from epic to lyrical themes, from tragedy to pamphlet; he exalted beauty and love, but did not shrink from depicting ugliness, the horrors of war, the baseness of violence.
He was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR (1972), and the highest honour in the Soviet Union, the medal of a Hero of Socialist Labour (1976).
Lado Gudiashvili died on 20 July, 1980, in Tbilisi.