Art world hails war paintings of Georgia's boy `genius'

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The Independent Online
He sees art in the horrors of war, colours in the darkness of pov-erty. He is 11 years old and his paintings are selling in London this week from pounds 700 to pounds 1,200.

Beso Khazaishvili comes from Georgia, Russia's southern neighbour, which was wracked by civil war in 1992. He has been brought to Britain by the art dealer Roy Miles, who spotted his paintings in a bank in the City.

Beso, now known as Master Beso, comes from a poor family of seven brothers and sisters in the Georgian town of Kutaisi. He began painting at the age of four and explores very adult themes such as human kindness, evil, grief and conflict.

His talent was spotted by the town mayor last year and from then on things have never been the same for this child prodigy. Mr Miles has given him a one-man show at his gallery, which runs from 23 May to 6 June.

"Part of the money raised from it will be used to send Beso to an art school," says Mr Miles.

Beso appears like any other child - watching TV, playing football. It is only when he sits down with his drawing pencils that his mind begins to unfold on the paper in the form of bold, confident strokes, straight lines and curves and an eye, a recurrent motif in all his works.

"When there are wars on the earth and the people are dying, the big eye becomes wicked. It protects kind people but if they become friends of evil, then it punishes them too. That big eye is the God," says Beso.

He remembers flickering images of "dead bodies of 16 or 17-year-old boys" shown on TV during the 1992 war. He also remembers the death of a child hit by a car. Beso has already completed around 3,000 paintings and sketches. Among the titles he has given to his works are The Eyes, Capability, The Blue Dream, Kindness and Eyes, Grief, Georgia, and Man Destroys Evil.

In The Eyes, three faces are surrounded by eyes peeping out of a black background. "The brown face is the real human being," explains Beso. "The other three faces are the various ways in which the eyes are seeing the human being. There is no one way in which a human being is seen by other human beings."

"I think we have a possibility that we have discovered a genius," says Mr Miles, who is excited by the response to the exhibition. Even before the formal opening, four of Beso's works have been sold at prices ranging from pounds 1,000 to pounds 1,200.

Beso has other plans. "I don't want to become a painter. I am not a painter. I just paint," he confesses, saying his dream has been to become a neuro-surgeon. "I want to know how people's minds work," he says, with a shy glint in his sparkling eyes.

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