Luka Khabelashvili (b. 1999) is a self-taught photographer from Gori, Georgia. Shooting mainly on digital cameras, he manipulates scenes to create something abstract and surreal. Green grass warps like a painting by Vincent van Gogh. Clouds, bright lights and plastic bags cover faces. Legs extend in different directions. The results are intriguing and, sometimes, unsettling. Khabelashvili explores a sense of “derealisation”, in which surroundings become blurred, detached and artificial – distorting our reality.
Khabelashvili’s approach is hard to pin down. In the artist’s own words: “I shoot everything that I find interesting and fascinating to see. I don’t have any specific style or genre.” His subjects roam open fields, deserts and deep blue seas, interacting with nature. Colour palettes incorporate bright reds, greens and burnt oranges. There are traces of the uncanny throughout; his figures are always recognisable, yet slightly off kilter. Mirror images, spliced bodies and hands proliferate. This is our world, but not quite as we know it.
The images are experimental and playful – a way of working which Khabelashvili has embraced since he was young. “I’ve been taking photos since I was a child. It all started one summer holiday when my family and I went to Turkey. My mother gave me a camera to capture moments from the holiday. It was after this trip I got obsessed.” Fast forward to 2021, and has the artist released a photobook with Setanta Books. It was the first in Open Doors Gallery‘s collaboration with the publisher, spotlighting emerging talent.
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All images courtesy Luka Khabelashvili and Setanta Books.