Futurist artist of Polish descent, one of the important figures of the Tbilisi Avant-garde, Zygmunt (Ziga) Waliszewski was born in 1897 in St. Petersburg. In 1908, his family moved to Georgia, Tbilisi, where he spent his childhood and youth. Here he graduated from the Nikolai Sklifosovsky’s drawing and painting courses and it was in Tbilisi, where his independent creative path began.
Kirille Zdanevich recalls how Waliszewski as a child used to paint portraits of Polish kings in gouache. In 1915, an exhibition of his posters was organized in Tbilisi. At that time he was 18 years old.
Waliszewski was fascinated by the works of Goya, Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Ingres, Delacroix, Manet and Cézanne.
In the First World War, Waliszewski volunteered for the front accompanying his friend Kirill Zdanevich, who was a commander of a Company. Kirill would keep Ziga safely in a trench. Being at the front turned out to be very fruitful for the artist: he painted portraits and caricatures of all the Company soldiers and made a lot of sketches.
After being forcibly released from the front to Tiflis, in 1917, a 20-year-old Waliszewski founded a Futuristic Syndicate together with the brothers Zdanevich and Lado Gudiashvili, poets Yuri Degen, Kolau Cherniavsky and Kara-Darvish. He participated in the organization of public lectures and debates, published books, collaborated with magazines ARS and Искусство, made illustrations for the book To Sophia Grigorievna Melnikova. FantasticTavern. 1917, 1918, 1919 and the book-satire On the Trip of Sergey Gorodetskii to Batumi.
In 1920, at the invitation of the Polish ambassador to Georgia, Waliszewski went to Poland, namely to the Art Academy of Krakow to continue his studies.
He spent the years 1924-1930 in Paris participating in the exhibitions of the Autumn Salon and the Academy of Fine Arts and periodically living in Cannes, Arles and Avignon. In 1934, he exhibited five works at the XIX International Winter Biennale in Venice.
Waliszewski participated in the painting of the murals for the Fantastic Tavern, and together with Alexzander Saltsman painted composition Pegasus in the Clouds on the curtain of the Tbilisi Opera House.
Kirill Zdanevich recalls that Ziga Waliszewski did predominantly graphic works in Tbilisi. As Kirill Zdanevich writes, his graphic art was full of “nobility and spiritual purity”.
In 1918-1920, Waliszevwki, together with the left-wing artists of Tbilisi, made futuristic works.
At the same time, he drew grotesque quotes and sketches of the famous works of Velasquez and Rubens – his favorite artists.
Sergey Orlov in his article Moscow, the Shelter of the Georgian Futurists wrote about him: “On the one hand, Waliszevwski depicted a phantasmagorical collection of things, on the other hand, his language and motives are synthetic. His grotesque world is populated by characters from different eras and countries – Gnomes, marquises, acrobats, comedians, Cupids, Elves and marionettes – the artist synthesizes different artistic traditions – ancient or medieval, baroque or post-impressionist, combining Lubbock and primitive, theater poster and other languages. His painting exists almost on the edge of symbolism, fable, and theater, reality and fiction.
The Tiflis period, which lasted till 1920, was probably the most active and prolific in the artist’s life. Lado Gudiashvili recalled that he met Ziga in the 1920s in Paris on Montparnasse. This was their last encounter.
Later, Zyga Waliszewski, suffering from blood vessel problems, had both his legs amputated. In 1936, in Krakow, at the age of 39, he suddenly died of heart attack.