Ivane (Vano) Enoukidzé was a Georgian emigrant artist born in Kutaisi in 1907. In 1920, his family moved to Tbilisi, where he pursued studies at Tbilisi State University’s Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences. During this period, he actively engaged in political events, becoming a member of an unauthorized group known as the “National Student Front for the Independence of Georgia.” However, due to the escalating political situation in Georgia, he emigrated in 1929 at the age of twenty-two, eventually establishing permanent residence in France. Vano Enoukidzé initially viewed emigration as a temporary solution, but unforeseen circumstances forced him into permanent exile.
Upon arriving in Paris, Vano Enoukidzé became integrated into the community of Georgian emigrants, notably the Pagava family. His friendship with Vera Pagava introduced him to a creative circle in Paris, including artists such as Alfred Manessier, Jean Bertholle, Roger Hilton, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Nicolas Wacker, François Stahly, and others. In 1937, he furthered his artistic education by attending classes at the Ranson Academy of Arts in Paris, studying under Roger Bissiere.
Vano Enoukidzé possessed a well-rounded education and a profound interest in Georgian and European history, culture, art, jurisprudence, and various other subjects. He graduated with honors from the University of Paris’ Faculty of Law in 1946-48 and subsequently received a scholarship to study at the Institute of International Law in The Hague after completing his university education in 1948.
From 1955 onward, Vano Enoukidzé dedicated his life to painting, exhibiting a deep fascination with and commitment to abstract expressionism in his body of work from 1955 to 1959. In 1958, he made his debut in the art world by participating in a group exhibition titled Salon d’Art Sacre et Realites Spiritualles, hosted at the Musée Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Vano Enoukidzé’s commitment to painting remained unwavering since 1955, marking a significant phase in his career. The Galerie Charpentier exhibition in 1959 was a pivotal moment that underscored his prominence in the art world. From 1958 to 1979, he collaborated with numerous well-known Parisian galleries, including Craven and Charpentier, participated in the Salon des Indépendants, and hosted successful solo and group exhibitions not only in France but also in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and beyond. He gained frequent mentions in the press, becoming a well-established figure in the Parisian art scene, simply known as “VANO.”
Vera Pagava and Vano Enoukidzé maintained an active collaboration with the gallery Darial, which was established in 1972 by Tamar Tsuladze, a Georgian immigrant, with the exhibition of Vera Pagava.
In an article titled Ecole de Paris, published in Le Monde on October 16, 1959, journalist and art critic Michelle Colin Lacoste wrote: “Vano, a Georgian artist, has been residing in Paris since 1930. In 1955, he abandoned the practice of law to fully dedicate himself to painting. His compositions resemble shimmering webs with a touch of elegance, and his paintings evoke the sense of encoded writing.”
Vano Enoukidzé’s life as an immigrant is inextricably linked to his connection with the Pagava family, particularly Vera Pagava. They shared their entire life journey together, with Vera Pagava being the devoted partner who wholeheartedly supported Vano Enoukidzé until his passing, caring for an artist who was already grappling with the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and their bond remained steadfast until the end.
Vano Enoukidzé passed away at the age of seventy-two on February 21, 1979, and is buried at the Leuville Cemetery.
His work Souvenir de Luchent is featured in the collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in France.
Most of his works are kept in the collection of L’Association Culturelle Vera Pagava in Paris.