A MAN FROM MARS
A half-naked young man standing on the top of a rocky mountain is plunging a sword into a dragon’s mouth. The sky is blue and angels are watching him from the clouds. The painting is about to be finished. He has been working on it for a month.
An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.
A great artist is always before his time or behind it.
George Edward Moore
A pale man with silver hair and purple sweater sits in the narrow room, stares at his painting and sings with a very low voice. A half-naked young man standing on the top of a rocky mountain is plunging a sword into a dragon’s mouth. The sky is blue and angels are watching him from the clouds. The painting is about to be finished. He has been working on it for a month.
The room has no entrance and no doors. Actually it is not a room, but the end of a long corridor in the Caucasian House, a cultural refuge in Tbilisi. Sometimes people crossing the corridor from one room to another notice him. A huge old computer sits on one table with a fresh orange in front of it. Another table holds a box with some broken pastel chalks. It’s a sad composition bathed in sunlight from a huge window
He paints with pieces of pastels. He smashes the colors on the paper with a finger. He steps back sometimes and looks at his painting through half-closed eyes.
Marsiani -- a man from Mars -- is his name.
A little house near a forest in a small village near Tskalbuto in western Georgia, where he was born and raised by his mother, has been abandoned for many years. The Kutaisi House of Writers, where he worked for many years, is damaged and vacant. His tiny room with two tables and an old coral sofa was always messy but full of young writers, poets and philosophers smoking cigarettes, talking about literature, reading poems, drinking wine and living the bohemian lives of an artist.
But that was many years ago. 1990’s were cold and dark in Georgia, often there was no electricity, no gas, no salaries, and long queues for bread and meat. Back then Marsiani was young, optimistic and doing everything he enjoyed: reading books, writing novels and creating his surrealistic black and white paintings.
He is not optimistic now. “There is nothing to write about me,” Marsiani says. “All I can recall from my entire life are difficulties that followed me everywhere. I even had difficulties with publishing my novels. I have heard they were something special at that time, but people who could say it loudly and whose words were trusted by others preferred to keep silent.“
His hopes to be discovered or at least to survive brought him to Tbilisi. He started to work at Caucasian House as an editor. His salary was enough to cover his tiny apartment rent and food expenses. In addition to his reading, writing and painting, he started visiting the zoo, spending hours at the cages of wild animals, watching and learning their motions, shapes and grace to use it in his paintings.
But misfortune found him even in Tbilisi. The project that was paying him was canceled and he could not find any other job. So he still goes to the Caucasian House almost every day to paint and read.
“I’m useless. I don’t even know how to use a computer. I don’t know English. I don’t know Russian. All I know is some literature,” he says. “There are so many ideas in my mind that I want to write about, so many poems and stories, but whatever I write cannot be published. The reason is that I cannot provide an electronic version of my writing. I cannot even type on a computer. “
Marsiani’s face stays unemotional and still, but his hands do the talking. He is moving them to show how weak he is against the technical revolution.
“I really miss the artistic chaos I was used to living in before,” he says. “Now we are having a very strange era in literature; we have writers who do not read. Their meetings and art events are artificial to me. I do not share their taste, and so I feel myself apart. I do not like modern Georgian literature, either. Some people may say that it describes reality. So what?”
“I live reality every day of my live and I do not like it. Give me something more, something esthetic, something better, and something nice. Make me feel it. I am fed up with reality.“
His painting still needs final touches. The dragon does not look like it is going to give up. Neither does the young man. The fight will definitely last long and nobody knows who will win. Marsiani stepped back and looked at it again from a distance. He appears to be satisfied.
The writer, poet, philosopher, publicist and painter, author of five books, two novels, poems and many critical essays, puts on his jacket and goes to the balcony to smoke a cheap cigarette. Thick clouds of nicotine come out of his mouth and disappear. His pale blue eyes are looking far away.
“I have no idea why I exist or what I’m doing on earth,” he says. “Nobody needs me. Only God knows how I keep myself alive. I am a believer.”