Georgian renowned set and film production designer Ioseb Sumbatashvili was born on October 10th 1915. After graduating from the Tbilisi Academy of Arts he was invited to the Marjanishvili Drama Theatre as the Chief Artistic Director (1942-1947). Among the plays he then designed were David the Builder by Levan Gotua, Euripide’s Medea, and Without a Dowry by Ostrovski. In 1948 through 1959 he worked as the Chief Artistic Director at the Tbilisi Opera House where he designed sets for Daisi by Paliashvili and many other performances at the same time continuing his prolific collaboration with the Marjanishvili Theare that resulted in the Shakespears plays Romeo and Juliet (1948), Anthony and Cleopatra (1951), and Richard III (1957) as well as The Khatarashvili Family by Mrevlishvili (1959), Mentor by Alexandre Kazbegi (1948) and the Schiller’s Mary Stuart (1955).
In 1952, Ioseb Sumatashvili was awarded the Stalin Prize of the second degree for the stage design of The Own Star. He also collaborated with the theaters of Gori, Chiatura, Rustavi. Along with intensive work in the theater, he successfully worked as a film production designer. He designed sceneries for the films Keto and Kote (1948, V. Tabliashvili); Tsiskara (1955, S. Chelidze); Magdana’s Blue Donckey (1955, T. Abuladze, R. Chkheidze) as well as cartoons Coddle (1950) Disobidient Goatling (1953) and others.
Starting from 1958, IosebSumbatashvili worked in various drama theaters in Moscow, The Art Theater (MKhAT) among them. In 1974 he was awarded the State Prize of the USSR for the design of the play Steelworkers (by G. Bokarev). In 1972-1988 he was the Chief Artistic Director of the Vakhtangov Theatre. He designed the sceneries for the performances: History of Irkutsk (A. Arbuzov); Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare); Mystery Buff (V. Mayakovsky), The Woman Behind the Green Door (R. Ibragimbekov) and others.
Among the performances he designed at the Kirov Academic Opera and Ballet Theater A.P. Petrov’s Peter the Great is worth noting.
During his long and fruitful creative life, Ioseb Sumbatashvili collaborated with various foreign drama and musical theaters in USA, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Korea and many others.
The artist died at the age of 97 on February 11, 2012 in Moscow and was buried at the Troekurovo Cemetery.
Ioseb Sumbatashvili left an important mark on the Georgian scenography and cinema. The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia in collaboration with the Georgian Museum of Theatre, Cinema, Music and Choreography (Palace of Arts) dedicated an exhibition to the centenary of his birth (10/12/2015). Within the framework of the event, a presentation of the catalog was held, which included works by Ioseb Sumbatashvili, stored in public and private collections in Georgia and Russia. The exhibition featured sketches and portraits created by the artist for the various performances and films.
- ციციშვილი,მაია. სუმბათაშვილი იოსებ // ქართული მხატვრობა – განვითარების ისტორია : XVIII-XX საუკუნეები / მაია ციციშვილი, ნინო ჭოღოშვილი. – თბილისი, 2013. – გვ. 305