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Virsaladze Soliko

“Patriarch of the Georgian Scenography”, “The Man Who Clad the Dance”,  “The artist, who created his own signature style in set design and costumes” – such are the words the art critics usually use to describe  Simon Virsaladze, commonly known as Soliko, the Georgian painter and eminent set designer, whose exquisite knowledge of theatrical art, choreography and music led him to create a completely new visual language, corresponding to and expressing the mood of musical  and dramatic leitmotifs. Moreover, he was an artist who played a significant part in the development of the Georgian National Ballet, founded by Iliko Sukhishvili and Nino Ramishvili in 1945.

At the age of 14, Soliko Virsaladze entered The People’s School of Art founded by the artist Mose Toidze. Then he went to the Tbilisi  Academy of Art (1927-28), studying  under Joseph Charlemagne. After Tbilisi, he continued his studies at the Moscow Higher Art and Technical Institute (VKHUTEIN, 1928-30) and then went to the Leningrad Academy of Arts (1930-31).  During the student period, he designed   several performances in the constructivist style in The Tbilisi Theater of Working Youth.   Already in 1932, at the age of 24 he became the art director at  the Tbilisi State of Opera and Ballet Theater. In 1937, he moved to Leningrad, where he continued working at the Kirov Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet. In a period of 1945-1962 he served as the art director in the same Kirov theatre.  It was there where the creative union of Soliko Virsaladze and Yuriy Grigorovich, the choreographer and  ballet master was formed: Grigorovich considered Simon Virsaladze to be his co-author. As a result of this cooperation, completely new principles of artistic design of the ballet productions were formed, known as «pictorial symphony». Among his numerous ballet productions, “Spartacus” is especially noteworthy.

Great is the contribution of Soliko Virsaladze to the development of the Georgian traditional costume. He designed the costumes for the Georgian National Ballet, in which the dresses for Queen Tamara and Adjarian dancers stand out. The artist created the gown of Queen Tamara after having studied her image on the fresco in the  Vardzia monastery. This dress is a work of art in its own right in decoration of which 3621 pearls, 154 gold-plated and 158 silver-plated buckles are used.  

Besides ballet and drama performances, Soliko Virsaladze also worked in the movie industry: he was a costume designer for the films Hamlet (1964) and King Lear (1969) of  the Lenfilm Studio.

Soliko Virsaladze was the People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR (1958) and the People’s Artist of the Soviet Union (1976). He received all the highest awards of the Soviet Union of that time: the State Prize of the USSR (1949, 1951, 1977), the Lenin Prize (1970), the Order of Lenin (1958, 1979). Besides, he was awarded a silver medal at The Brussels World Exhibition in (1958).


Simon (Soliko) Virsaladze
Date of Birth1909Date of Death1989Share